India won 55% of their matches in the two years before lifting the 2011 World Cup Trophy. Australia had a win percentage of 59% in the two previous years leading to their win in the 2015 World Cup. Well, England have won 70% of their matches in the last two years. Their record at home is even better. They have secured victory in 12 out of the last 13 matches they played in good ol’ England which is where the World Cup is being held. Their clean sweep against Pakistan only highlighted the fact that they are firm favourites to win the coveted trophy.
Nobody can look at this squad and not agree that this group is not only the mightiest team out of all the teams in this tournament but it is also the best side England has ever fielded in a World Cup. In this article, I am going to be looking at their strength, their weakness, a possible threat to them, opportunity for any of their players, their X-Factor, and their realistic chances.
This England squad have quality in surplus. They have great players for almost every aspect of the game. But their batting prowess emerges as the clear biggest strength. It would not be wrong to say that this batting lineup can score 400 at least 2 or 3 times out of 10. Their recent series against Pakistan where they scored 300+ in every game was a clear and timely reminder that this batting lineup is not made up of your average Joes. They got Jason Roy right at the top, for whom ‘in form’ would be a serious understatement. He will be opening with Mitchell from ‘Modern Family’ lookalike Jonny Bairstow. Joe Root, a part of the Fab 4 of world cricket comes in at 3. The captain Eoin Morgan has the ability to hit big and make a huge impact by not letting the run rate slow down in the middle overs. Then Ben Stokes starts to provide the finishing touches. He knows that even if he gets out, it does not matter because he has the cushion of Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali coming in at 6 and 7. Imagine. Buttler, who is the definition of a talent being underused, is batting at No.6. That’s the sort of batting lineup they have. After Jos the boss and Moeen walk in two hard hitting fast bowling allrounders. Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer both have the capability to hit big shots and also to stick around with an upper order batsman makes for an annoying tail. Finally Tom Curran, who can bat as well, finishes off this high-class batting order.
It is quite hard to find a weakness in this squad but the bowling might be a bit of a worry. Let’s not forget that if the English batsmen made 300+ runs in every contest, their bowlers conceded 300 runs in every contest but one. That is not a very stirring record. If the likes of Plunkett, Rashid, Moeen and Curran are having problems against the unimpressive Pakistani batting order, then I hate to think what they will have to face against much stronger teams like India and Australia. In spite of this, the form of Chris Woakes and the addition of Jofra Archer are big positives. And the England batting will take every team apart anyway, so why worry?
The only threat I see for this bunch of Englishmen is injuries, especially to spinners. They have only two spinners who can bowl the whole 10 overs within their ranks. Their form is not that good either. Ali and Rashid could take only 4 wickets between the two of them combined in the 4 matches that they played. But I wouldn’t worry much about that since there are just so many flat tracks in England and they won’t get the ball to spin anyway. Also their backup batsmen aren’t that experienced or reliable. Hopefully they won’t need to ply their trade at all.
Their are two sides to every coin. If one of the relatively inexperienced backup batsmen gets a chance to play, he could make a good name for himself. Liam Dawson, surprise last minute inclusion, could be a possible candidate to rise to fame in this World Cup. The stage is also set for Jofra Archer, who if selected in the playing XI against South Africa on 30th, would be playing only his 4th One Day International.
This one is tough. In a side filled with in-form quality players, it is tough to go with an out-of-favour player. But I know that Ben Stokes has the quality to bounce back in style. He must have gotten some confidence from that 71 not out against Pakistan where he rescued England from what was a somewhat difficult situation. He has been regarded as one of the world’s best all-rounders, if not the best, and he will be desperate to prove that correct. He is a big-match player and he will definitely be useful for England in pressure situations.
I am looking at this England side as potential World Cup winners. Even if they play 50% of what they are capable of, a top 4 finish is guaranteed. They will most likely be table toppers or runners up. Either way, I believe they have it in them to go to the final. Whatever happens on that day just happens.