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When Jos Buttler hit Chris Morris in the 47th over of the second ODI against South Africa, England crossed the 300-run mark. It was the seventh time in 10 ODIs that Eoin Morgan’s men did so and it seems to signal an end to a cycle. Gone are the days when the opposition would bank on England’s tendency to shy away from big totals in limited overs cricket. The 444 that they scored against Pakistan in 2016 is only testimony to this fact.
England had started remaking their approach to the game long before the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. The results could be seen in the tournament. Only two teams could stop the hosts. One were Sri Lanka, against whom England lost in the group stage and the other were a rampant India, who defeated them in the final to lift the trophy. England went through a bit of a slump after that, losing series after ODI series at home. They then exited the 2015 World Cup in Australia/New Zealand in the group stage itself.
Looking at the results for England since then, the ignominy of having to sit out in the knock out stages of the world’s premier ODI cricket tournament could be described as a watershed moment. Slowly, they phased out regulars like Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad and James Anderson from their squad and included the likes of Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett. Jason Roy, Sam Billings and the mercurial Ben Stokes. Along with these players, Alex Hales and Jos Buttler have also stepped up their game while Joe Root has grown in stature to be recognised as one of the best batsmen in the world.
Stokes in particular seems to be at the forefront of England’s turnaround since that doomed 2015 World Cup campaign. In the aforementioned ODI match against South Africa, a half-fit Stokes smashed 101 off 79 balls. In the process, he lifted a faltering England innings. He then went on to bowl only three of his supplement of overs in the South African innings, in which he took the wicket of Hashim Amla.
Since that tournament in 2015, they have played 10 ODI series of which they have lost only three. Their dominance of South Africa in the ongoing ODI series is only testimony to the fact that beating England in their own stomping yard remains one of the most coveted achievements in limited overs cricket. It hence makes it only imperative that one includes Eoin Morgan and co. in their list of favourites for the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 title.