Can Favourites England End Their World Cup Drought?
England enter the 2019 World Cup as favourites for the competition on home soil, enjoying a complete turnaround since their humiliating exit four years ago.
The Three Lions were a mess in the 50-over format in 2015, playing a brand of cricket that belonged in the 1990s. Trevor Bayliss was hired in the aftermath of their exit in the group stage and revitalised the team with Eoin Morgan, turning them into the best team in the world.
It has been a refreshing change for England, dominating the 50-over game. At one point the Three Lions had won nine bilateral series on the bounce before their run came to an end earlier in the year with their draw against the West Indies. However, they remain the leading outfit in the world due to their power with the bat, which has seen them smash the world record twice in four years.
The pressure of the favourite tag appeared to weigh on England in the Champions Trophy. They made it through to the semi-finals, but put forward a horrendous display to lose to Pakistan. The Three Lions are the best team in the world by right, although the one-off nature of the games will put their composure to the test.
Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
England could not be a more different side now than they were entering the last World Cup. Four years ago Alastair Cook had just been removed as skipper, throwing Morgan into the fray to lead a team that was imbalanced and disjointed to say the least. England’s style of cricket was putrid and dated compared to their rivals, who attacked from the off.
The Three Lions were dispatched with ease and left pondering their future. The response from the new hierarchy was emphatic and has slowly built England into the best team in the world. In 2015 they were beaten handily by Australia, but last year they hammered the Baggy Greens 5-0 on home soil. England have beaten almost every team home and away since the last World Cup, highlighting their talent across the board.
Only India have managed to defeat them, which came in their home series at the start of 2017. England do have the odd blip now and then in their batting ranks due to their style of play. However, it’s the same system that has seen them smash the world record twice and move within striking distance of becoming the first team to score 500 runs. Their bowling attack could be the fatal flaw, although the addition of Jofra Archer may have come at the perfect time. Morgan and his team are under pressure to deliver, but are an outstanding outfit.
Jonny Bairstow – England have a line-up stacked with talent and anyone of the batsman are more than capable of topping the run charts. However, Bairstow could be the most important due to his style of play, opening up alongside Jason Roy. The 29-year-old forced his way into the England team two years ago and has been a key cog ever since. He has notched seven centuries in his 63 matches along with nine fifties.
Bairstow has an outstanding conversion rate as he ensures when he gets in he makes teams pay. His strike rate is the best in the world for openers with over 1,000 runs to their name. Bairstow has all the shots in his armoury, although he prefers the leg side. He enters the tournament in impressive form, having enjoyed a successful spell with Sunrisers Hyderabad where he scored 445 runs, including a knock of 114. Bairstow carried those performances into the series against Pakistan, notching a century and a fifty in his side’s victories at Bristol and Southampton respectively.
He and Roy will set the tone for England in the tournament. Jos Buttler, Joe Root and Morgan are all equally adept, but fast starts have been the difference for the Three Lions since the last World Cup. Back Bairstow to lead the way for his team with Bet365 at 11/4 and the tournament itself in runs at 11/1 with 888Sport.
Jofra Archer – Archer is England’s wildcard for the World Cup. The Three Lions were forced to wait until the series against Ireland to blood the paceman after he qualified as an England player. Archer was born in the West Indies, but has built up his time in England to earn a berth ahead of the tournament.
He has the raw pace and ability to tear through opposing line-ups that the Three Lions have been seeking over the last four years. Chris Woakes has been a solid opening bowler, while Liam Plunkett has been a wicket-taking option in the middle overs. However, Mark Wood has not been able to develop into the strike bowler that England would have hoped for, struggling with injuries and form.
Archer has proven his quality for Sussex in the English county game as well as the IPL for the past two seasons. The 24-year-old does not have a great List A record, but he should relish the occasion. His pace was too much for Afghanistan to handle in England’s victory in their final warm-up game. He could be the difference between success and failure for the Three Lions. Back him to lead the wicket column for England at odds of 10/3 with Bet365 and the tournament itself at odds of 16/1 .
England carry the burden of being the favourites for the crown, while also being tasked with ending the country’s drought at the World Cup. The Three Lions are one of the few leading nations in the world that have not won the tournament and they will not have many better opportunities. Morgan’s men have been the best team in the world for the past four years, they now just need the trophy to prove it.
England have the best batting line-up in the competition, with their depth going all the way down the order. The bowling could be their downfall as there is not a strike bowler that has proven himself outside of Adil Rashid. The leg-spinner carries the weight of expectation to strike with regularity in the middle overs. He will be aided by the fact that England’s batsmen will be putting totals of over 300 runs on the board.
That margin for error has worked in their favour over the last four years and should be the driving force to get them into the final at odds of 17/20 with 888Sport. India are their serious rivals for the crown. There has been little to separate them in their two series since the last World Cup.
India’s experience and quality in their bowling ranks may just give them the edge over England in a pressure-cooker match. Therefore Morgan’s men may have to settle for being runners-up at odds of 11/4 with Bet365. Only the weight of expectations will stop their quest to be champions.
- cricket world cup
- Jofra Archer
- Jonny Bairstow