Written by Vinay Siwach | | New Delhi | November 29, 2015 3:41 pm
England, the nation which introduced the game to the world, are yet to bag the most coveted cricket trophy. A look at the Eoin Morgan-led unit for the 2015 edition.
When it’s about choking at World Cups, it’s always about South Africa. But England’s record at this mega event tells a different story. Three time finalists (1979, 1987, 1992) and add to it the two semi-final exits in 1975 and 1983. They may not have choked but never went on to perform exceptionally well at the mega event.
The nation which introduced the game to the world has failed to win the most coveted championship even once.
Cut to present. England go Down Under with a young and inexperienced team. They have left out Alastair Cook after giving him an extended run to prove his worth in ODIs. But he failed, scoring only 523 runs in 20 matches at an average of 27.52. He did not score a single century in 2014, his highest score being 56.
As an opener, Cook had scored his runs at a strike rate of 71.3 in 2014. On the other hand, Moeen Ali has scored at close to 110 per 100 balls in the few innings he has played at the top. England needed that urgency going into the World Cup which will see two new balls from both ends.
Other exclusion is that of Kevin Pietersen. Enough said.
England, even without major big names, have a team that can reach the semi-final. Beyond that they need to play the cricket of their life to make it to the summit clash.
Bowling: James Anderson, Stuart Broad and an in-form Steven Finn. England boast of a pace attack that only few teams could have. Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan and Ravi Bopara may not be express pace but their seam bowling will reap good results for England in those conditions. Jordan is their highest wicket taker in 2014 with 29 wickets at an average of 31.34. Their main spinner, James Tredwell has also had a good 2014 where he picked up 23 wickets from 20 matches. And, we all know what Ali can do with his gentle offies.
Anderson & Co. have been exceptional with the new ball. Since 2013, only six 50-plus partnerships have been put up against England which is the lowest against any team. In the first 10 overs, the bowlers average 26.94, again the best among any other team. Eoin Morgan will hope they continue their form.
Young blood: The change at the helm came as a welcome move. England needed that after having nine wins, 16 losses in 2014.. While Anderson, having made his World Cup debut in the 2003 edition, is their most experienced player, England will be all about young talent. The likes of Joe Root, James Taylor, James Buttler and others will play the aggressive brand of cricket.
In Morgan, they have a leader who likes taking risks. One exhibition of his captaincy skills was at display in the tri-series match against India where he rotated his bowlers in a brilliant manner and never allowed Indian batsmen to settle on an uneven WACA pitch. But he has one problem to deal with. Since May, England have been bowled out 11 times in 17 ODIs they have played. He needs to rebuild a team that has been criticised to still play the game of the 1980s.
Mindset: Australia made 362 as their highest total in 2014. New Zealand made 373. Sri Lanka crossed the 300-run mark four times. England were never able to do so. 316 was their highest score last year. Critics have said that England are behind their opponents when it comes to mindset in ODIs.
England have suffered from that. They still are playing the old game where 270-280 was a good target and there was no slam-bang cricket in the last 10 overs. The aggression was lacking to go out and play the slog-cricket. Their opening was about saving wickets but they never utilised the powerplay, and ended up scoring way less than other teams. India’s highest total in 2014 was 404! We won’t see big scores as these in Australia but England should bring aggression in their batting.
England have a tough start to their campaign with back-to-back matches against hosts Australia and New Zealand. If they can overcome these two nations, it will be much more easy for them for the rest of the tournament. Down Under, England need to bring their ‘A’ to make a mark.