Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Root and Wood Could Cover Up England Weaknesses

England have been on an imperious march to the World Cup since their failure in the competition four years ago in Australia and New Zealand.

The Three Lions were humiliated, failing to reach the knockout stage of the tournament. Eoin Morgan’s men played a brand of tepid cricket that put them well behind their rivals at the top of the sport. Their failure proved to be a watershed moment for England in one-day cricket and inspired a revolution in their style, which has made them the front runners for the World Cup.

Over the last three years, Morgan’s men won nine bilateral series in a row before their surge was ended against the West Indies in a draw in the Caribbean. In their run, they defeated Australia home and away, New Zealand and Sri Lanka on the road, along with a narrow 2-1 victory over India last summer. The Three Lions are a machine in the 50-over format, boasting the best batting unit in the world, while Adil Rashid has developed into one of the leading spin bowlers in the world.

England have few weaknesses, although the most glaring of them were exposed in their series against the West Indies. Their batsmen have been on song for 90 percent of the time since the last World Cup, but they have still displayed a propensity to stage dramatic collapses. Their defeat to Pakistan in the semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy was a case and point, while further meltdowns against Sri Lanka last year and the West Indies in the final match of the series.

England’s ability to mount huge totals has been their biggest strength since the last World Cup. It results from their aggressive style of play that has seen them break the world record for the highest ODI total twice, coming within 19 runs of being the first team to post 500 last year against Australia. However, the same attitude can also result in rare failures. It only takes one of those days to halt their charge at the World Cup.

Although Joe Root does not boast the same striking ability as the rest of his team-mates in the line-up, he could be the Three Lions’ most important player in the tournament. He plays the anchor role to perfection, allowing the rest of the unit to tee off around him.  Root displayed that ability with back-to-back centuries against India in 2018, and it’s the reason why backing him to lead the way at the tournament with the most runs would be one of the best betting tips available, especially in familiar conditions in England.

The Three Lions have also been exposed at times in their bowling ranks. Without James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the 50-over game, England lack a world-class seam option. Chris Woakes has had his moments, although, on other occasions, he has been cannon fodder. In the Caribbean, Chris Gayle took him to task with ease and there are other openers that are also capable.

Mark Wood proved his worth in the ODI series against the Windies. He could be England’s ace card in the World Cup, highlighted by his match-winning spell of 4-60 to stop Gayle and company chasing down 418 in the fourth ODI. Wood has the raw pace to trouble the leading batsmen in world cricket. Paired with Rashid, it provides Morgan with a dangerous one-two punch to turn a match on its head. It will still take a complete effort from England to clinch their first World Cup crown, but they have star men that can put blemishes on their few weaknesses heading into the tournament.

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