“Well, if a team can register a winning margin 7-3, despite not play its ‘A’ game, then one can imagine the quality of the side. So it is evident that going into the 2019 World Cup, which will be hosted by England, Morgan’s team certainly seems like the red-hot favourites”.
Series triumph in nine out of their last 10 bilateral assignments with last six coming back to back — the Eion Morgan-led England One-Day International (ODI) outfit has certainly become a team to beat. They have depth in quality in all three departments, solid bench strength and most importantly, a big match temperament. The seven-wicket victory on Saturday (March 10) in the series decider at Christchurch is the greatest testament to that.
So, here lies an important question — is this England team best in the business in the 50-over format?
Well, arguably yes and it is because of their ruthless attitude. Their only competitor in this regard is certainly India, a team which is also going through a purple patch. However, at times one can argue that there are a few weak spots in the batting department of Kohli’s team, whereas the England line-up seems to have all bases covered. The recent series victories against Australia and New Zealand have proved that.
Let’s take a closer look.
Before the one-day series in Australia, their skipper Morgan had spoken about how he thought these two series would expose some of his team’s weaknesses. However, the way his team has performed through the course of these 10 games, there is hardly any fragility can be found in them. A 7-3 result in favour of them is an indication of that. And remember, in Australia, England did not have the services of their star all-rounder Ben Stokes.
According to the author, the biggest positive to come out for England from these two series – is their bowling, especially the spin department. In fact, after wrapping up the series against New Zealand, Morgan also spoke about it his post-match presser at Christchurch.
“I think the bowling has come on hugely, probably our biggest improvement this winter,” Morgan said. “Defending a score without Liam Plunkett in Sydney or the Wellington match here. Never believing we are out of the game.”
In a couple of matches of this series against New Zealand, bowling has laid the foundation of their victories. In Wellington, they defended 234. The two spinners — Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali bowled brilliantly over there and took 5 for 70.
In fact, throughout this Trans-Tasmanian tour, the spin-duo did an exceptional job for England. In Australia Rashid was their best bowler with 10 scalps, whereas Ali got five but maintain an economy rate of 4.95. Against the Blackcaps, they got 11 (Rashid 6 and Ali 5) wickets.
Both of them complemented each brilliantly and most of these 10 games, had a wood over the opposition in the middle overs on wickets, which did not offer much spin.
England’s pace department also seems to have quite a few useful resources. ‘Player of the series’, in New Zealand, Chris Woakes has been a nothing sort of a sensation, both with the new ball as well as in the death overs. In these five games in New Zealand, he maintained an economy rate of 4.61 and took 10 wickets. He good support from Tom Curren and Stokes.
Now, if we shift our focus towards their batting, Jonny Bairstow’s performance has been to the most hearting one for the team management.
Till a few series back, when Alex Hales and Jason Roy were going all guns blazing, Bairstow was not in the scene in England’s ODI set-up. It was Hales’ poor form allowed him to come into the scheme of things and the Yorkshire batsman has grabbed this opportunity with both hands.
Bairstow played all the 10 matches, batted at the top and got 157 runs in Australia and 302 in New Zealand and became the second-highest scorer after Ross Taylor’s 304. Apart from him, Roy in Australia and Joe Root in New Zealand have done a decent job with the bat in hand. Though here one can say, Morgan’s boys were not exactly at their best with bat both the series.
“We haven’t necessarily played our perfect game this winter but we’ve shown a lot of fight and character. We’ve won some games where, perhaps, we didn’t deserve to win them and that’s a really good sign for the team,” the skipper has quite aptly pointed this out.
Well, if a team can register a winning margin 7-3, despite not play its ‘A’ game, then one can imagine the quality of the side. So it is evident that going into the 2019 World Cup, which will be hosted by England, Morgan’s team certainly seems like the red-hot favourites.