Hosts, favourites, world number one… will the Cricket World Cup trophy finally have England’s name on it?
Host nation? Check. World number one ranked team? Check. Bookmakers’ favourite? Check. What could possibly go wrong for England at the 2019 Cricket World Cup?
As part of a busy summer, which also includes their attempt to win back the Ashes, England go into the Cricket World Cup looking to lift the trophy for the first time.
And the optimism around the team is well-placed given their recent form, which has included twice breaking the record for highest ODI score.
Four of the last five 400+ scores in ODI cricket have been hit by England, with Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler forming a formidable batting line-up.
It says a lot that Alex Hales’ deselection after his ban for recreational drug use only weakens the squad depth, rather than the likely starting XI.
England thrashed Australia home and away in ODI cricket last year, while their stunning form also includes victory against India.
Different players have contributed to each of the wins – Root hitting back-to-back centuries in the comeback against India, for example, while Bairstow also enjoyed a run of 100s earlier in the year.
Morgan was their top batsman against Sri Lanka over the winter, meanwhile, and Buttler has racked up the match-winning innings in between.
Their bowling has come good too and the only question mark remaining is whether Jofra Archer will be added to their pace attack for the tournament.
But a strong team on paper is no guarantee of victory – particularly given England’s previous World Cup record…
Key player: Jos Buttler
You can take your pick from any of the England top-order and each has produced enough match-winning knocks to suggest they are the key batting figure.
But when your team-mates are calling you ‘freakish’ for your big-hitting ability, and – as captain Morgan has pointed out – those freakish knocks are becoming more and more common, you take notice. Step forward, Jos Buttler.
Buttler hit a 50-ball century as England ramped up their World Cup preparations by beating Pakistan at the Rose Bowl – the 28-year-old’s eighth ODI century.
Buttler averages 42.13 in ODI cricket, with a strike rate of 119.88, and his high score of 150 (from 77 balls) was as recent as the series in the West Indies in February.
Prior to that, Buttler showed he has more to his armoury than just ramp shots and big sixes too – his measured 110* from 122 balls in a one-wicket against Australia was arguably his finest century.
Buttler has told the story of how he watched Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid make history at Taunton as a young fan when the World Cup was last in England. Two decades on, it is his turn to take centre-stage.
Others to watch
Bang in form at the top of the order, Jonny Bairstow will be tasked with getting England’s innings off to the best start – something he has done consistently over the last 18 months.
The Yorkshireman hit three back-to-back hundreds last year, scoring 138 and 104 in consecutive innings in New Zealand before his 105 in a losing cause against Scotland.
He then hit another century in England’s record-breaking 481/6 against Australia, scoring 139 from just 92 balls, and sharing partnerships of 159 with Jason Roy and 151 with Alex Hales.
After forming a formidable opening partnership with David Warner at the IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad too – including a century against Royal Challengers Bangalore – he arrives in top form.
While Hales will be absent at the top of the order for England at the World Cup, Bairstow and Roy remain – and their partnerships will be key.
Leg-spinning Yorkshireman Adil Rashid has quietly but efficiently gone about his business during England’s stunning run of ODI form.
He and Moeen Ali shared 12 wickets apiece as England whitewashed Australia last summer, and Rashid added six more – the highest of the English bowling attack – in the win against India that followed.
Rashid took another six in Sri Lanka, including four in a man-of-the-match performance in the third ODI, and he was the tourists’ leading wicket-taker again with nine in three innings in the West Indies.
His five-wicket haul in the fourth game of that latter series was his second in ODI cricket, and he has now amassed 130 wickets in 80 innings in the format.
While the batsman have stolen the headlines, Rashid has been consistent with the ball and goes into the World Cup as England’s highest-ranked ODI bowler.
Irish-born England captain Eoin Morgan has matured into his leadership role over the last four years and remains integral with the bat too.
Now England’s all-time leading ODI run scorer, he also holds the record for the country’s fastest one-day 50 – achieved in that extraordinary 481/6 against Australia.
Morgan’s partnerships with Joe Root have been particularly key for England – while Root took the headlines against India, for example, Morgan hit back-to-back half-centuries to help turn the series around.
In the second match, Morgan hit 53 in a 103-run partnership with the test captain, while he was unbeaten alongside Root on 88 in the eight-wicket win that followed.
Such form continued into Sri Lanka, where he scored 195 runs in four innings and was only dismissed once, while his unbeaten 71 against Pakistan at the Rose Bowl was his 44th ODI half-century. He also has 12 hundreds and 6,884 runs in total.
His captaincy will be vital at this World Cup and so will his middle-order runs if he is to become the first England captain to lift the trophy.
England squad for ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
|Eoin Morgan (c)||32||Batsman|
|Moeen Ali||31||All-rounder (OS)|
|Tom Curran||24||All-rounder (RFM)|
|Liam Dawson||29||All-rounder (SLA)|
|Liam Plunkett||34||All-rounder (RFM)|
|Adil Rashid||31||All-rounder (LS)|
|Ben Stokes||27||All-rounder (RFM)|
|Jofra Archer||24||Bowler (RF|
|Chris Woakes||30||All-rounder (RFM)|
|Mark Wood||29||Bowler (RF)|
|*Alex Hales was dropped from the original squad, with his replacement being James Vince (28) (batsman).|
June 8 – England vs Pakistan (Trent Bridge, Nottingham)
With England hoping for some early momentum, the fixture at Trent Bridge – their second of the tournament – comes at an ideal time.
Nottingham has been a very happy hunting ground for England in recent years, including their then-record 444/3 in a 169-run win against Pakistan in 2016.
Last summer, meanwhile, it was at Trent Bridge again when England smashed their own record as they posted 481/6 and beat Australia by 242 runs.
They have become familiar with a big ODI win against Pakistan considering the past month, and a win against the team that knocked them out of the Champions Trophy could set the tone for the rest of the tournament.
England Cricket World Cup 2019 fixtures
|May 30||South Africa||The Oval, London|
|June 3||Pakistan||Trent Bridge, Nottingham|
|June 8||Bangladesh||Sophia Gardens, Cardiff|
|June 14||West Indies||Rose Bowl, Southampton|
|June 18||Afghanistan||Old Trafford, Manchester|
|June 21||Sri Lanka||Headingley, Leeds|
|June 25||Australia||Lord’s, London|
|June 30||India||Edgbaston, Birmingham|
|July 3||New Zealand||Riverside, Chester-le-Street|
Happy to avoid
Let’s be honest, any one of the lower-ranked European nations could have gone here. Ireland beat England at the 2011 World Cup, while Scotland earned a shock win against them last summer – their one blip in an otherwise brilliant year of ODI cricket.
But it is the Netherlands who have inflicted two of England’s most embarrassing recent defeats on them – albeit at the World T20, rather than in ODI cricket.
When England hosted the tournament in 2009, the Dutch chased 163 to beat them by four wickets off the final ball. Five years later, in Bangladesh, the Netherlands bowled England out for 88 in a 45-run win.
With the Dutch not at the World Cup, it is one less potential banana skin for the English – and no chance of a repeat of that aforementioned Lord’s loss ten years ago.
England, at home especially, go into the tournament in superb ODI form – form which has propelled them to the top of the world rankings.
Since hosting the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017, England have won every bilateral series they have played – their one blip coming in a one-off game against Scotland.
They won nine out of ten matches to beat Australia home and away, including last summer’s whitewash, and then beat India with Joe Root in top form.
A 3-1 win in Sri Lanka followed, though their winning streak was ended by a 2-2 draw with West Indies after a batting collapse in the final game of the series.
Nevertheless, England bounced back by beating Ireland in a one-off game and started their pre-World Cup series with Pakistan with a high-scoring win too.
England are rightly favourites for this tournament, with home advantage and a batting order packed with quality.
Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow are in top form opening the batting, while Joe Root and Eoin Morgan have shared some big partnerships recently too. After them comes Jos Buttler – whose own recent form has been superb as well.
If there is any identifiable weakness, it is the bowling attack – though Jofra Archer’s addition could be key in that department.
Regardless, if England can overcome their propensity to slip-up on the big one-day occasion, they can finally end their long wait for a World Cup win.