The biggest show in Cricket is set to begin in just 10 days in England and the hosts start as overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy for the first time ever in history.
Since the debacle of 2015, when England failed to make it past the group stages and managed to beat only Scotland and Afghanistan, English ODI side has completely changed their approach and have built a tremendously successful side with an attacking approach. Most of the success has been built around their batting, which boasts of arguably the most aggressive batting line-up in ODI cricket history. On flat pitches and smaller grounds, they become absolutely unstoppable as they take apart one bowling attack after another.
In Bairstow and Roy, they have an outstanding opening pair. The pair has opened together in 26 games and they already have 7 century stands and 7 half-century stands with an overall average of 64. These runs are coming at a very brisk rate with both batsmen having a career strike rate well over a 100. The momentum of the innings is set right at the top with these 2 putting the bowling line-up on the backfoot, enabling the middle order to cash in later.
Once you get past the openers, they have 2 excellent ODI batsmen in Root and Morgan who can keep things ticking over by manipulating the field for 1s and 2s, and both are very capable of hitting the boundaries when required, especially Morgan. They invariably ensure that the run rate doesn’t drop once the openers depart and it sets up nicely for the big hitters to come later.
Speaking of big hitters, they have the best of the current lot in Jos Buttler. With a batting average of 41.6 and strike rate of 120, Buttler is in a class of his own. Maxwell and Russell are the only ones with better strike rate than him in ODIs, but they are nowhere close to the consistency of the Englishman who now has 5 out of the 10 fastest centuries by an English batsman.
The thing with this English batting line up is that the batsmen just don’t stop coming, you have the all-rounders Stokes and Moeen coming in at 6 and 7 who can shore up the innings after a collapse or provide late blows to add some crucial runs, as per the situation. Then you get Curran, Woakes, Rashid who are all very capable with the bat. If somehow you get them 9 down and get a chance to bowl to Willey or Plunkett, you can still expect to leak boundaries as both are very capable of smashing a few boundaries, there is just no respite for the bowling team.
While the batting line up appears formidable and looks likely to cross 350 in every game, their bowling line-up looks like conceding the same every time they bowl on the flat pitches expected during the World Cup. They have conceded 300+ on 25 occasions since the last World Cup.
Lack of death overs specialists and wicket taking options in the middle overs means they often end up conceding huge totals. Adil Rashid is the only wicket taking option they have through the middle overs allowing the opposition to build their innings for a late flourish relatively risk-free.
West Indies collared their bowling in the Caribbean earlier this year when even a total of 418 looked insufficient at one point before Rashid picked 4 wickets in an over, while Pakistan has scored over 340 in 3 out of 4 matches in the ongoing series against them.
They may bring in Jofra Archer due to his death bowling abilities in addition to some big hitting lower down the order but the question is, who misses out from the bunch that has been together over the past 2 years, Willey or Plunkett? They are the 2 players who must be fearing for their spot and have already voiced concerns over the inclusion of Archer just ahead of the World Cup.
While that bowling attack remains somewhat of a concern, as long as that batting order keeps firing, everything is fine for England as they chase down one 350 score after another with remarkable ease.
England squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow (wicket-keeper), Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper), Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, and Mark Wood.