Why England Entering the WC 2019 Final Makes Perfect Sense
England’s successful run is no flash in the pan but a well-planned process nearing its expected conclusion.
Hosts England were number one favourites coming into the tournament and to lift the trophy on 14 July at Lord’s. Since they are the hosts, hold the number one status in ODIs and their recent run of form, expectations from them have been very high from English fans.
But England’s past record and the fact that they had never won the competition in its 44-year history, last playing in the semis 22 years previously, meant it was easier said than done.
The Eoin Morgan-led side didn’t disappoint. And the convincing semi-final victory against defending champions Australia with 8 wickets and 107 balls to spare served to reiterate just how good the current lot of English cricketers are.
With England being one-step away from maiden World Cup glory, we need to realise that despite minor hiccups in their World Cup campaign, England’s successful run is no flash in the pan but a well-planned process which is nearing its expected conclusion.
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Great Run Coming into the World Cup
The last time England lost an ODI series before the World Cup was way back in early 2017 while they were touring India. In-between, they did lose a match against Scotland but that was a one-off occurrence.
Since January 2017, England have won 11 out of 13 ODI series, recording convincing wins against West Indies (4-0), Australia (5-0), India (2-1) and Pakistan (4-0), at home. Their away successes included a 4-1 triumph in Australia, 3-2 win in New Zealand and a 3-1 victory in Sri Lanka.
During this period, England won 39 games and lost only 12 to reach the pinnacle of ODI ranking.
Immediately before the World Cup, England registered a comprehensive 4-0 win against Pakistan, at home. Barring the first match which was abandoned, England not only won all matches, but scored 300-plus in the ties, including two successful 300- plus chases.
It was this series which reaffirmed England’s top seeding coming into the World Cup.
A Complete Overhaul & the Four-Year Process
After England booked a place in the final on Thursday, skipper Eoin Morgan credited the previous four years of planning for their success.
Talking about the transformation phase, Morgan said, “It has been a process for the last four years… there was quite a drastic change in the way we played and the way we looked at playing our 50-over cricket. That has worked out extremely well for us and given the support that we've had throughout.”
The 2015 edition of the World Cup saw England crash out in the group stage. The loss against Bangladesh, which led to their early exit, sounded warning bells in the English cricket set-up.
This resulted in an immediate reorganisation of English Cricket. Former captain Andrew Strauss was brought into the set-up and was appointed as the director of England cricket. The first thing that Strauss did was to purge English cricket of incumbent coach Peter Moores and the controversial Kevin Peterson.
It was under Strauss that Trevor Bayliss was appointed the new coach. Players like Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes became part of the regular set-up as greater focus was shifted to limited-over cricket.
By the time Strauss vacated his post in October 2018, the transformation was complete and the result was evident. From failing to go beyond the league stage in the World Cup in March 2015, England went on to become the number one ODI side in May 2018.
Formidable Batting and Bowling Unit
England are the only side in the ongoing World Cup whose top five batsman have scored at least one century and more than 250 runs in the competition.
Armed with the most destructive ODI batting line-up, five out of the top six English batsmen have average above 45 and have been striking at above 90 throughout the tournament.
Thus far, five English batsmen have scored centuries in the World Cup with Joe Root leading the pack with two.
With so many batting talents at their disposal, England hardly saw a batting collapse during the tournament. At least one batsman was always there to save the day for England.
Not only batsmen, English bowlers have also performed excellently in the competition. Their four frontline pacers: Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Jofra Archer and Liam Plunkett have taken 56 wickets among them in tournament. Their lone spinner Adil Rashid has also accounted for 11 wickets, along with all-rounder Ben Stokes who also has seven scalps.
While English pacers have been successful in giving early breakthroughs regularly, Adil Rashid and Ben Stokes have chipped in with wickets in the middle overs.
England’s World Cup campaign can easily be divided into three parts: the first saw England winning four out of their first five matches. Then came the slump, followed by their resurrection.
After a great start to their World Cup campaign with a win against South Africa, England faltered against a mercurial Pakistan. But the loss didn’t undermine England’s favourites tag. England went on to register three back-to back wins against Bangladesh, West Indies and Afghanistan, and put one foot in the semis.
But a shocking loss against an inexperienced Sri Lanka stirred panic in the English camp. To make matters worse, arch-rival Australia also delivered a sucker punch.
Suddenly, England found themselves in a must-win situation. With Pakistan and Bangladesh breathing down their neck at the points table, England had to beat India, who were yet to lose a match in the competition and second-placed New Zealand in their last two league encounters.
With their back against the wall, England showed character to come on top against India and break their unbeaten run. A 119-run win against New Zealand not only put England in the semis put completed a perfect comeback for the hosts who not only revived the campaign but also once again laid serious claim to title.
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