PARTAB RAMCHAND | 24 MAY, 2019
Could This Be England’s World Cup?
England has promised much, but often failed to deliver
That the bookies have installed England as the favourites for the World Cup is no surprise. On team personnel and as the side in ``red hot’’ form they certainly are the team to beat. They are playing at home and while this may not be an important factor considering the fact that they have done so four times in the past and never won of late it has become an almost decisive factor.
It must not be forgotten that the last two editions have been won by one of the co-hosts. Also England has a particularly superb record in their own backyard their latest 4-0 thrashing of Pakistan symbolizing this.
Even a cursory glance at the England squad will convince the most knowledgeable of cricket followers that it will take something special from other teams to stop the hosts from winning the trophy for the first time. Sure, they are not the only team that appears very strong on paper with Australia, India, New Zealand and South Africa also looking good but there is something about the Eoin Morgan led side that inspires tremendous confidence.
The most important factor in their favour is the batting. It is simply awesome with one potential match winner following another in the order. Symbolising this is the fact that in the last three years England has notched up the two highest totals in ODI history and both of these have been at home.
In Morgan, Jason Roy, Johnny Bairstow, Joss Buttler, Joe Root and Ben Stokes they have a mix of strokeplayers and big hitters who can take the game away from any opposition. All rounders Moeen Ali and Tom Curren lend a sense of balance in the middle order and besides like most of the batsmen they have a career strike rate of over 100.
The bowling by comparison may appear mediocre but a line-up of Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes and the three all rounders is not one to be sneered at and in fact gives Morgan a lot of options.
England has in the past promised much but failed to deliver. Four years ago they went down in a shock defeat to Bangladesh which prevented them from making the quarterfinals. They still remain the only team in the competition to enter at least the semifinals on five successive occasions – including three runner-up spots.
This time despite the presence of a few other strong teams represents their best chance to win the trophy for the first time.
England has failed to make the semifinals even once after 1992. Despite having many fine players - including some all time greats - in their ranks England’s inability to win the World Cup has had the experts scratching their heads in frustration but could this be the time when they pull it off?
Indeed these days it appears that England can do no wrong.Over the last two years they have enjoyed a run of unprecedented success winning at home and away and defeating strong teams like South Africa, Australia, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies, in some cases more than once.
The apotheosis would of course be the 5-0 rout of Australia at home but defeating New Zealand and Sri Lanka away have also been notable achievements. Their run ended with an inspired West Indies holding them 2-2 in a contest in the Caribbean earlier this year but their unbeaten streak continues going into the World Cup.
Even in a rather open field with a number of leading contenders among the participating teams England stands out. They have all bases covered in that they have everything that a top class ODI side needs - stroke playing batsmen, explosive hitters, genuine all rounders and bits and pieces players, accurate fast bowlers and capable spinners with almost all of them being excellent fieldsmen. The side is particularly rich on experience with players of proven skill.
To be candid if they miss this big chance England may not get another opportunity in the near future.