The 50 over Cricket World Cup starts on Saturday with England taking on Australia in Melbourne.
Starting at 3:30am British time, England will face the toughest opponents in their group on day one of the tournament. With the top four from each group going through to the knockout stages, this game isn’t an essential win for England, but Peter Moore’s side will certainly want to get off to a good start to give themselves a chance to win their first ODI World Cup.
There has been a downbeat attitude to England’s hopes in this tournament. Over the past year the England side has encountered much criticism regarding the sacking of Kevin Pieterson and the ongoing debate as to whether Alistair Cook should retain his place and captaincy. However, going into the World Cup, England look to have a settled side. Eoin Morgan has taken over the captaincy and looks to have thrived in his new role. England will be confident that they can reach the quarter finals and beyond.
The form guide shows mixed results. In the recent tri-series against India and Australia, England beat India comprehensively on both occasions, however, every time they came up against the Aussies, the English failed to threaten. Australia though, are clear favourites for the tournament with many saying that it will be a domination.
New Zealand and South Africa have also been marked as potential winners. Meanwhile the Asian sides have been given little chance. India having been obliterated in the tri-series, Pakistan with their numerous injury troubles and Sri-lanka who have doubts over Malinga’s fitness, will do well to make the final or even the semis. The so called associate teams will, as usual, struggle to string wins together, especially against the test playing nations. Ireland might have a chance, but after losing heavily to Scotland in the warm up matches, their form is questionable. Zimbabwe and the UAE will struggle to get a win, with their only chance in the game with each other. The same can be said for Afghanistan and Scotland in group A.
England then have an outside chance. Beating the likes of Australia and New Zealand will be a big ask, but there is the talent in the side to pull it off. Here’s England’s 15 man squad.
Eoin Morgan – Captain and left hand middle order batsmen. Very good player of spin, watch out for his reverse sweeps. He does struggle outside his off stump, allowing accurate bowlers to cause him some difficulty.
Moeen Ali – Left hand opening batsmen and right arm off spin bowler. A much improved player of late, he’ll go on the offensive early with fluid drives through the off side. He can be a little ambitious sometimes but adds a extra dimension to the England batting line up.
Ian Bell – Right hand opening batsmen. A perfect technique is always on display with Bell. He has every shot in the book, but with the talent he has at his disposal he should have a better record than he does. England will be hoping he turns up at this World Cup.
Alex Hales – Right hand opening batsmen. He is currently struggling to get a place in the side. If he does get a chance there’s no guarantee that he’ll be opening the batting. A very strong off side player, he has the power to get the team off to a flying start.
James Taylor – Right hand top order batsmen. Don’t be fooled by his size. He can maneuver the ball brilliantly and runs like a hare between the wickets. Be prepared for his charges down the pitch as he looks to create momentum to find the boundaries. He does lack experience on the big stage and could be exposed if one of the openers falls early.
Joe Root – Right hand middle order batsmen, pictured right. Yorkshire born and bread. Very good on the back foot and very intelligent. He’ll aim to keep the runs ticking in the middle overs. If he needs to up the run rate he has the ability, but he’s not going to set the world alight.
Gary Ballance – Left handed middle order batsmen. He’s struggled to nail down a place in the ODI side. He has the ability to play conservatively or take the attack to the bowlers. He’s very strong on the back foot but maybe lacks the edge to break into the side.
Jos Buttler – Vice captain, wicket keeper and right hand batsmen. England’s most exciting talent. He is a nightmare for the opposing captain. He has perfected his signature shot, the Butler ramp, over the years but he can also smack the ball back over the bowlers head. His wicket keeping is his secondary skill so expect some blunders behind the stumps.
Ravi Bopara – Right hand batsmen and medium pace bowler. An underrated bowler in my opinion, he has subtle variations and his pace can be difficult to get away on a tricky pitch. He has been dropped down the order to give it a whack. Expect to see him stand in front of his stumps and launch the ball to cow corner. He always struggles to carry the team over the line though, getting out before the job is done on many past occasions.
Chris Woakes – Right hand fast bowler and lower order batsmen. A steady opening bowler. He has the ability to swing the ball but he can also bowl at the end of an innings, using slower balls and yorkers. He likes to be a little unorthodox in the field as shown in this video as he takes a catch off Chris Jordan’s bowling.
Chris Jordan – Right arm bowler and destructive lower order batsmen. Immensely strong and talented, Jordan can score quick runs at the back end of an innings. His bowling is aggressive and reasonably fast despite his labored run up. He has a tendency to bowl wides from time to time though.
Stuart Broad – Right hand fast bowler, left handed lower order batsmen. His height gives him extra bounce and he has the ability to take wickets in succession. When it’s his day, there’s no stopping him. He can also score some handy runs but his technique is appalling, especially against the faster bowlers.
Steven Finn – Right hand fast bowler, tries to bat right handed. Not as quick as he used to be, but he still looks a handful to face. His batting is not his strong point.
James Anderson – Right hand opening bowler, bats left handed. The king of swing. By far England’s best bowler. With bat in hand he just can’t resist a reverse sweep.
James Tredwell – Right arm off spin and right handed lower order batsmen. Mr reliable, Tredders never gives a bad performance. He is the master of flight and deception. He can also pick up some handy runs with the bat. He is strugling to get in the side, with Ali being the chosen spinner.
The ODI format has been through many playing regulation changes in the last few years. The decision review system (DRS) will be in place during the tournament allowing teams to challenge the umpires decision. Bowlers will have the luxury of bowling with two new balls, one from each end. Fielding restrictions apply. The first ten overs only allow a maximum of two fielders in the outfield. After this the batting team chooses when to take a five over power play meaning only three fielders are allowed in the outfield. During the remainder of the innings there can only be a maximum of four fielders outside the inner ring.
Unfortunately the matches will take place during the early hours of the morning, meaning only the most committed of cricket fans will watch the games live. I’ll be following England as closely as I can and doing regular updates on this blog. Click for the full list of fixtures.
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