World Cup 2019: England’s Best Chance To Rise To Supremacy
June 19th 2018 will be long remembered in cricketing history. Australia, under a new leader were aiming to bounce back from a 2-0 deficit in the series, but little did they know that a batting-storm awaited them. Having been put into bat, the England batters came out all guns blazing and showed no respite to the fragile Aussie bowling lineup. Jason Roy (82 off 61), Jonny Bairstow (139 off 92) and Alex Hales (147 off 92) went berserk right from the beginning. Tim Paine ran out of bowling options and turned to part timers in Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell and D’Arcy Short, but all in vain as no bowler could stop the run flow.
Witnessing the carnage from the dressing room, Eoin Morgan took things in his own hands in the last ten overs. Coming into bat in the 38th over, the England captain started his own mini storm. He raced to his half century off just 21 balls (fastest by an England batsman), in the meantime also becoming the highest run-scorer for England in ODIs. The match was sealed by the English batsmen. A record total of 481/6 always seemed out of reach for the Aussies as they were eventually bundled out for 239, with only Travis Head getting to a fifty. The England bowlers did a decent job. Adil Rashid and Moen Ali bagged seven wickets between themselves to derail the Aussies.
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England has surely sent an imperious warning to all the other big teams by condemning the defending World Cup Champions to their heaviest defeat in ODI cricket. Over the years, the one trophy that has eluded the English team is the ICC World Cup. Come 2019, they have a great chance to enter the history books. With the mega event scheduled in their own backyard (England and Wales), it gives them a fair chance to go over the finish line. Under Eoin Morgan, England have turned out to become a side to beat. The team is filled with match winners and the current stability in the team is much like that of the great Australian side of the early 2000’s.
English conditions will pose a hard time to sub-continent countries and that should excite England. They have done reasonably well in the 50 over format especially in England. From 2016, they have obtained a string of series wins over Sri Lanka (3-0), Pakistan (4-1), Ireland (2-0), South Africa (2-1) and West Indies (4-0). The away series victories over Australia (4-1) and New Zealand (3-2) are a proof of their strength as well. The only exception can be the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 where they were knocked out in the semi-finals by eventually the tournament winners Pakistan.
The team has all bases covered. The top order looks solid with Hales, Bairstow, Joe Root and Morgan. The middle order is settled with Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Moen Ali. The bowling department has done its job with newbies like Jake Ball, David Willey and Mark Wood going along nicely with the slightly more experienced duo of Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes. The spin department is controlled by Adil Rashid and Moen Ali. For England, what stands out from the rest of the teams is that they have probably the two best all-rounders of the world on their side- Ben Stokes and Moen Ali. These two have been a driving force with both bat and ball.
The batting has blossomed over the last few series with Hales, Bairstow and Root getting them good starts and either one of them converting it into a big one. The middle order has been consistent with Ali and Buttler, the latter being able to finish games on his own. Buttler in particular has been in fine form with the bat which was also witnessed in the recently concluded IPL. The bowling unit has done its job with the three quicks and two spinners. Also, the bench strength looks all the more promising with Jason Roy, Sam Billings, Tom Curran, etc. all waiting to grab their chances.
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The biggest worry would be the recent form of Ben Stokes. The 27-year old has had a dull phase after coming out the infamous “street brawl” incident. England would want him to peak at the right time and the upcoming series against India should give him an opportunity to turn things around in his favour. Another area to look into is the team selection. While the likes of Wood and Ball have come good, Willey has been erratic at times. Woakes has been consistent and that should give him a slight edge over Willey. Eoin Morgan has been exceptional as a leader but would also want his individual performances to be consistent.
Having said that, one cannot forget the story of World Cups and England. It has always been a sad one. England fans and the players might not want to go into history and that is the way ahead. The current team has all the ingredients, the crowd support and the conditions in its favour. So, its fair to say that the 2019 World Cup is probably the best chance to open their account and rise to supremacy.
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