by Monideep Ghosh
Traditionally, English cricket has predominantly been dominated by success in the longer format in the form of test cricket; producing greats such as Graham Gooch, Alastair Cook and Alec Stewart. However, ODI cricket has always presented constant failure with no World Cup ever won despite hosted four of them and only a sole twenty twenty victory which was primarily due to an Australian side plagued with injuries hence resulting in a lacklustre performance. Despite this abysmal history, in the last twelve months after the disastrous World Cup campaign in Australia/New Zealand, England have proved themselves as the team to beat in this format after scripting phenomenal performances consistently against top nations in a variety of tough conditions thus suggesting to many that this possibly the greatest one day team England have fielding their history. The sudden change is due to a variety of reasons from the development of attacking mindsets to the introduction of individual superstars.
Joe Root. In the main, England's spectacular upturn has been built on a batting line-up that is as destructive, dynamic and boundary-hungry as any other on the planet. But, the rock coming in at the crucial number 3 is Root who has amassed 796 runs in 2016 alone at a very impressive average of 61.23 coupled with an equally sensational strike rate of 91. Due to the aggressive style of the openers Root has often had to come in early on in the innings and rarely disappoints by preserving his wicket while rotating the strike effectively and hitting the big boundaries towards the latter stages of the innings. The twenty five year old also chases magnificently as well as consolidating innings to allow the big hitters later on in the innings to express themselves and hence propelling England to an above par score. That being said, Root does also have a very vast attacking game with many different innovation which was purely demonstrated in his match winning innings of 83 of 44 balls which included 6 fours and 4 sixes and aided England to a world record chase of South Africa’s 229 in the recently concluded ICC Wt20 in India. An England side without Joe Root would struggle against world class bowling lineups and batting on difficult pitches- his value to this England ODI team is incomprehensible.
Jos Buttler has been in scintillating form in the last calendar year which has resulted in him brutally finishing off innings with a flurry of boundaries enabling England to score unreachable totals as well as chasing scores that would've been out of reach years ago. England have in the past lacked a middle order batsman that could really go through the gears and finish an innings off on a regular basis and with Buttler they have found a genuine ODI finisher as well as an excellent wicket keeper which only builds on his outstanding contribution to the team. In terms of statistics, in the last year the twenty six year old has bludgeoned 605 runs at 67.22 at a swashbuckling strike rate of 139.40. In the MS Dhoni mould, the Somerset born wicketkeeper has transformed how English cricket is viewed by his repertoire of shots as he can play 360 degrees round the wicket which is completely unheard of when associating shot selection with England.
Leadership. In captain Eoin Morgan, England have found a man who allows his team mates to go out and express themselves and play their natural game which in this case has created an aggressive brand of cricket being performed primarily due to the average age of the team being only 26. This however is mixed with solidity and thus results in more wins than losses. Since Morgan has taken over the captaincy England have won 17 games and lost only 9 which proves the impact he has as skipper of the side. Moreover, after the dismal World Cup campaign England boast the highest average runs per over of 6.5 (0.5 higher than New Zealand who come second). This further reinforces this hypothesis that Eoin Morgan is making a difference towards the approach made by this England team that was completely obliterated by other nations during the 2015 World Cup under the leadership of Alastair Cook.
The foundation seems extremely strong for England and hosting the 2019 World Cup should be an opportunity to stamp authority on ODI cricket on a global basis. However, tough overseas tours in the subcontinent including Bangladesh and India may test England and therefore the pressure is on after some incredible, promising and decimating performances.