Hosts and favourites England got here into this yr’s occasion having seemingly lined all bases of their bid to seize their first 50-over crown.
They formulated a method that they’d been nurturing during the last 4 years – bat the opposition out of the sport. They did this by going arduous at their opponents from ball one and had been relentless till the tip of their innings.
Ranging from the highest, their batting order was stacked with gamers who may execute on this technique. Males reminiscent of Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali had been handpicked on their means to trigger most injury to the white orb over the course of their innings.
They had been capable of constantly put up enormous totals whereas batting first, which frequently proved insurmountable for the opposition but in addition proved equally adept at chasing down any goal that they had been confronted with.
This tactic was so efficient that it resulted in collection wins towards former, and present WC winners in India, Pakistan and Australia and a tied one towards one other former World Cup champion, the West Indies.
So profitable had been they in batting groups out of the competition that India’s skipper Virat Kohli jokingly remarked on the captains’ photo-shoot that some groups had been in a rush to achieve Mt.500 (500 runs in an innings) sooner than anybody else.
Nevertheless, Eoin Morgan and his males realised that batting was just one piece of the puzzle. Bowling was the opposite main element they wanted to shortly inventory as much as counter opposition batsmen who had the identical thought.
All of their biggest threats – India, Australia, South Africa, had potent bowling assaults to fight the house group’s arduous hitters. Even a resurgent West Indies had been coming in sizzling, with some thrilling new expertise of their quick bowling armoury.
Their medium pacers Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes, with spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid would be capable of subdue smaller groups however towards the larger ones, they wanted some actual firepower.
Chris Wooden was the one quick bowler of their ranks with actual tempo however that wasn’t going to be sufficient. They wanted a minimum of one other fearsome bowler.
Motion was required and the group administration wasted no time in procuring the companies of Jofra Archer and ensured that he could be a part of their strike power at The World Cup.
It turned out to be a masterstroke as their assault, showing so far missing in tooth, instantly had a ‘chew’ that was as damaging as its batting one. Archer, together with his electrifying tempo has been the discover of the event and has irrefutably been the distinction to England’s bowling on the showpiece occasion.
Lastly, fielding, the place England had been identified to drop dollies and assist opposition batsmen out with confidence and runs, was a continuing reason behind concern.
All that modified as we noticed a pointy English unit take the sector, diving to cease runs and taking sensible catches, none extra so than Ben Stokes’ beautiful acrobatic effort within the event opener towards South Africa, the flying Englishman pulling off the catch of the event so far.
Every thing appeared to be going like clockwork because the England juggernaut started to string collectively spectacular wins. Even a loss to Pakistan of their second match was thought of a blip on the radar because the hosts had been quickly again to their devastating finest.
The England ‘bat’tering ram mowed down opponents with relative ease, leaving a path of destruction in its wake.
In truth, so highly effective and environment friendly was the English batting that even the suspension and subsequent withdrawal from the event of 1 its most damaging bats – Alex Hales, to be used of leisure medication – couldn’t dampen their spirits.
Even the a number of downpours in the course of the event appeared like a mere sprinkle in comparison with the tempest that was The English cricket group. So complete was their domination that it prompted former Three Lions participant turned commentator Kevin Pietersen to quip, after one more spectacular English exhibiting – “give them the cup”.
However simply when every little thing appeared to be going based on plan, the hosts had been jolted but once more, this time by an underwhelming and strange Sri Lankan aspect. A solitary loss early within the event to the ever unpredictable however gifted Pakistanis is one factor however a second loss to a mediocre group, with more durable contests across the nook begged the query.
Are England actually adequate to win the World Cup?
The reply isn’t just a easy sure or no. We have to take a deep dive into England’s historical past at cricket’s premier occasion to decode their downside.
England have been in three World Cup finals beforehand however have come up quick every time. Whereas they had been blown away by an invincible West Indies in 1979, a ‘mind fade’ by Mike Gatting within the ’87 remaining when England had been cruising, resulted in them snatching defeat when victory was theirs for the taking.
In ’92, the genius of Wasim Akram broke the again of their batting and the remaining merely caved in. Within the latter two finals, they had been the agency favourites, but they faltered within the summit conflict.
So what ails the English on the subject of the World Cup? The plain reply is “stress”.
England’s incapacity to deal with stress is what has precipitated them a lot heartbreak at ICC occasions.
The stress is undoubtedly the best when chasing a difficult whole in a knock-out match and that had been the situation in each World Cup remaining that they’d contested.
It appears to be their downside on this event as nicely (though they aren’t KO matches).
Each time the hosts have batted first, they’ve amassed enormous totals and all however batted groups out of the competition. However when chasing, the stress has acquired to them.
Whereas they put up a valiant effort in pursuit of the Pakistanis’ enormous whole of 348 albeit in useless, their defeat to the Lankans’ in a meagre chase of 232 clearly highlighted England’s woes once they’re up towards.
It may undoubtedly be mentioned that a few losses are sure to occur in a protracted event and England are greater than prone to get it proper within the the rest of their matches. However it’s not a lot because the losses that increase purple flags as a lot because it’s the way through which they’ve misplaced them.
Initially, each had been comparatively weaker opponents in comparison with this England aspect. Secondly, when Pakistan attacked their bowlers from the onset, the favourites acquired rattled, their fielding acquired shoddy as they dropped sitters (regardless of Woakes’ 4 catches) and there have been misfields galore.
This was in sharp distinction to their electrical fielding show within the earlier match. Towards the Lankans as nicely, batsmen after batsmen adopted one another again to the pavilion, on the again of some actually gentle dismissals, when the necessity of the hour was just a few widespread sense batting.
It was additionally the case of their loss to Bangladesh within the 2015 World Cup that knocked them out of the event.
Nevertheless, they’ve proven themselves equally prone to stress once they’re up towards an opposition who refuse to be intimidated.
Whereas Eire’s Kevin O’Brien’s innings within the 2011 version was out of this world, the loss to Bangladesh on the identical occasion introduced this inadequacy to the fore as soon as once more.
The gamers go right into a “mind freeze” once they’re below the hammer, as was evident when India’s Yuvraj Singh went after Stuart Broad in that memorable 2007 T20 World Cup conflict between their sides.
Six deliveries had been bowled within the slot for the damaging left-hander to deposit every one in every of them into the stands. No variations by way of slower balls or slower ball bouncers had been even tried.
It was once more in proof within the 2016 T20 World Cup remaining. With 19 runs wanted, Stokes who had till then been immaculate together with his yorkers within the event, unexpectedly discovered himself on the receiving finish of Carlos Brathwaite’s large blade.
Ball after ball of tried yorkers went crusing into the night time sky. Because the West Indian used his lengthy attain to get below balls that solely missed their mark by a fraction, and ship them hovering over the boundary, Stokes ‘froze’ and continued to dish out extra of the identical with none try to combine it up.
England ended up shedding the match and trophy, a trophy which ought to have been theirs. The one notable exceptions in World Cups when The Three Lions bucked this pattern was once they defeated arch rivals Australia to win their solely world title up to now and be topped 2010 T20 World Champions, after which once more within the 2011 World Cup once they managed to pip the South Africans on the put up, successful by 6 runs.
However sadly they’ve ended up on the incorrect aspect of the consequence as a rule.
As Al Pacino so famously acknowledged to Keanu Reeves, a hotshot lawyer who couldn’t lose a case, within the film The Satan’s Advocate – “Strain, it adjustments every little thing. Some individuals, you squeeze them, they focus. Others fold. Are you able to summon your expertise at will? Are you able to ship on a deadline? Are you able to sleep at night time?”
England is not going to win the World Cup until they cowl this base as nicely – take care of the dreaded ‘P’ issue and conquer it.
They must cope with two sorts of stress on the occasion. First – the exterior – from their opponents who shall be gunning for them in addition to the expectations of a nation to convey the cup dwelling for the very first time.
The second – the interior – the expectations the gamers have from themselves, figuring out that this may very well be their finest likelihood to seal their legacies in immortality as World cup winners, whereas being absolutely conscious that this chance could by no means come once more of their enjoying careers.
For them to triumph, they might want to embrace stress, take a look at it as a privilege quite than a burden and deal with it as an ally as an alternative of an enemy. There’s a lesson to be learnt right here for the hosts from the previous enemy Australia.
The Aussies have mastered the artwork of dealing with stress, which is clearly evident from their 5 World titles. All earlier winners too have exemplified this trait on their technique to the title.
It appears Kohli was proper, when on the photo-shoot he continued to say, that even, scores of 250 odd shall be difficult in the direction of the later levels of the event when the ‘stress’ shall be dialled up and the group with the power to deal with that stress the most effective, will put themselves within the prime place to win the trophy.
Therein lies the reply and resolution to England’s issues. Expertise and ability is a given at this degree however can they deal with the stress when the warmth is admittedly on?
When squeezed, can they ‘focus’ or will they once more ‘fold’? Can they summon their expertise at will and once they want it probably the most? Can they ship on the largest stage of all?
Can they keep calm and sleep at night time? In the long run it’s their means to reply these questions within the affirmative that may finally decide whether or not the favourites lastly cowl themselves in glory or finish one more World Cup marketing campaign in bitter disappointment.