England favourites as cricket World Cup comes home - GulfToday

England favourites as cricket World Cup comes home

England

England boast a plethora of big-hitting white-ball specialists in the World Cup with the likes of Jonny Bairstow (right) and Jos Buttler. File / Reuters

London: The World Cup returns to its birthplace when the 12th edition of the one-day international showpiece starts in England later this month, with many predicting a batting bonanza.

The inaugural 1975 tournament saw West Indies beat Australia in a memorable Lord’s final and it is 20 years since England last staged the event, when Australia overwhelmed Pakistan in a lopsided final. Top-ranked England will undoubtedly start the tournament as favourites.

They were, however, strongly fancied to win the 2017 50-over Champions Trophy, which they hosted, only to lose to eventual winners Pakistan in the semi-finals.

That match saw England fail to adjust to a slow Cardiff pitch that was not ideally suited to attacking strokeplay.

But England one-day captain Eoin Morgan said his side had learned their lesson.

“We are very realistic about the pitches we might play on,” he said. “They might deteriorate as the World Cup goes on and we are planning for that.”

England have never won a men’s World Cup, with the last of their three losing appearances in the final coming in 1992.

A limp first-round departure at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand was the catalyst for a transformation in England’s white-ball game based on aggressive batting, as exemplified by the likes of Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler. England are now even threatening to smash the 500-run barrier for the first time in an ODI innings, having set a new record total of 481 for six against Australia in Nottingham last year.

And their attack now has an extra threat in recently qualified Barbados-born fast bowler Jofra Archer, who is likely to be named in England’s squad of 15.

“England have the strongest side they have ever had, and the inclusion of the exciting Jofra Archer is only going to strengthen that,” former England skipper Mike Gatting told the cricketer magazine.

Agence France-Presse