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England’s Moment

• Posted in Cricket • By JoeBaker

The wait for an international one-day trophy has been a long one for England. It almost ended four years ago at the last Champions Trophy, where India eventually scraped a rain delayed final, with England running out of time when just five runs short.

Yet, add on four years, with a thoroughly disappointing and eye-opening World Cup performance in-between, and England have arguably never been in a better position to get their eager hands on a trophy. Just look to the two recent stunning and hard-fought victories that secured a series win over the world’s current number 1 ranked ODI side, South Africa.

Under the stewardship of Trevor Bayliss, and a Captain in Eoin Morgan who now has more of a say on the make-up of the side than during that disastrous World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, this is a well-balanced England group full of attacking intent and talent. They are one of the favourites to win of the 8 sides taking part, irrespective of the fact that they currently sit back at 5th in those ODI rankings.  

Look at this is squad and you’ll instantly start lauding England’s batting options. However, it’s the bowling attack that could be their most lethal weapon over the two weeks of exciting international cricket this June. It is clear that Chris Woakes has developed into a terrific international bowler and will swing the ball away all innings, whilst in Chris Plunkett England have a bowler who can hit the deck hard, bowling back of a length but still with the ability to deliver clever slower deliveries. Throw in the new ball work of Chris Wood and expert death bowling by the world-class Ben Stoakes and England have an extremely potent pace attack. They have spinning options too – with Moeen Ali, Adil Rashin and the severely underrated off-breaks of Joe Root to turn to.

To understand the depth of the batting options, just consider the fact that Jonny Bairstow, arguably England’s finest batsman over the last year or so, is unlikely to get a place in the starting 11. There can be no denying of the quality in their ranks. They have four players who on their day are truly world-class, with the ability to inspire England to the trophy – Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler and Ben Stoakes could arguably walk into any team with their ability to take a game by the scruff of its neck. The opening partnership of Jason Roy and Alex Hales can be hit and miss but they can get England the quick early runs and momentum needed in an innings. The middle-order is full of invention and class, with players who can keep the runs ticking and kick-on further if needed. As well as the fantastic four mentioned earlier, Moeen Ali ais lso exceptional with bat in hand, whilst we’ve seen the damage that Rashid and Plunkett can dish out. Every opponent will know that they will need to bowl exceptionally well, or that England have a complete collapse, to bowl them out.

The home advantage must surely play a part; with all matches being played at three grounds that England have plenty of experience of – The Oval, Edgbaston and Cardiff.  They will know the conditions better than anyone else, as well as having the local support firmly behind them. Being in familiar surroundings, and having an understanding of pacier and skidder wickets, will help with variations in bowling and judgements over shot selection. Be it during death bowling or when chasing down a total, England will certainly have a psychological advantage – especially in a tournament when there really are no easy games.

It takes five consecutive wins to lift this trophy. It all starts for England against Bangladesh, where they should prevail comfortably, notwithstanding the fact that Bangladesh beat them at the last World Cup. It may look a disadvantage having both Australia and New Zealand in their group but if England can do the business and get through to the knock-out stages then one major threat will be out of the way; beat both and a big statement will be sent. The match against a now Brendon McCullum-less New Zealand comes first – win this and they can play with freedom against Australia knowing that their place in the semi-finals has already been secured.

It’s been said so many times before but momentum is also very important going into tournaments and England certainly have it in the short forms of the game, stemming from their run to the World T20 Final last year. In the last year they’ve defeated Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, West Indies and now South Africa in ODI series. Even the series defeat against India showed how far they were progressing, winning one of the three matches and pushing an excellent Indian side close on their home turf. Then you have to factor in the number of players they now have performing in leagues such as the IPL, thriving with bat and ball. This is now very much a one-day orientated team.

If you love your cricket, the Champions Trophy really is the ideal way to kick-off the sporting summer. It will be tense, exciting and rich with quality. And, come June 18th we might, finally, be seeing England lifting that long-awaited ODI trophy. 

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