Cricket’s answer to the football World Cup is just around the corner, and the excitement is creeping ever higher with the promise of big hits, cartwheeling stumps and outrageous catches on the near horizon.
The usual suspects of Australia, South Africa and India are the clear favourites for the tournament, but this year England are not too far behind the best teams, with their batting in particular rivalling any of the afore mentioned sides.
With so many talented players to choose from for the England selectors, it is a very enviable position to be in. Big hitters will unfortunately have to tune in from their settees at home and bowlers will have to remain contented with net sessions instead as the selection process looks to fine tune an England side that is already really quite settled.
This is so true that even the batting talent of Jonny Bairstow, a man that led from the front in England’s 2-0 series win over Ireland, seems very unlikely to be involved in the upcoming showpiece event.
Of those settled players which are most likely to stand out then? Of course, this will omit the likes of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler; two men that will have to be at their best if England are to win the tournament.
The opener has been a superb find since his initiation into the ODI side back in 2015. Roy is a player of real power and strength and is often the man to really start the fireworks for his team. In his career he has hit 1431 runs at an average of just under 39; hugely impressive considering ODIs are not a format that always allows a player to get themselves in with the bat.
Bar Roy’s power he is most important for the stability he can give the team. In the shorter formats it is vital that the openers can provide their side with a solid start that their lower order players can build on. Roy’s partner Alex Hales is a very talented player but he is all too often out early.
His propensity to blow hot and cold will worry the fans. It is important that Roy can match his partner when he is at his explosive best then, but it is vital he can represent a figure that will not give his wicket away easily which is why Roy is likely to prove to be one of the most important batsmen in the team.
What a player Chris Woakes is becoming. The Englishman has not just improved upon his bowling, but also on his batting too and he is now very much an important all-rounder for the Three Lions. Statistically, in his ODI career he has picked up 85 scalps at an average of 32.60, while with the bat he has 794 runs at an average of 24.81.
While he may not be as blockbuster as Stokes in his batting and bowling, Woakes is becoming a very reliable player for Morgan’s team. Whether he is tasked with opening the bowling or firing in an over in the pressure 50th, he is a man that is rarely found wanting. With the bat too he can be explosive with huge shots over the boundary, but he can appreciate the tactical side of the game too, rotating the strike to keep his partner in the firing line if that benefits his side more.
England have a relatively young bowling attack if they keep faith with the bowlers they have recently used which makes the experience and ability of Woakes vital. His influence will be at it’s most important when England come under serious amounts of pressure which will happen if they make it to the latter stages of the tournament.
The captain and possibly the most important man of them all. Eoin Morgan has been a bit of an enigma in recent years, coming good with huge scores and inspiring performances, only to take ten steps backwards the next game as ducks are followed by more ducks.
He is undeniably talented though, hitting 5404 runs at an average of 37.79. A fluent left-hander, the Irish born player is comfortable digging in when needed and also going big in the final overs. Where he struggles sometimes is pacing his innings. If he comes in with England in trouble he is good at doing the hard work and staying in. If he comes in with England already on a big score from his teammates he is adept at swelling the target superbly and giving his side energy and power in the middle. He really struggles when his team are in a limbo state, with the score at around 100 after 15 overs and a couple of wickets down, he seems like he has a problem deciding whether to attack or slow the momentum of the other team, often ending in a poor shot choice and the surrender of his wicket.
Morgan’s influence will not just be with the bat though, as intelligent field placements and bowling changes will dictate how large a score they chase or how close the opposition gets to England’s total. On top of this Morgan excels in the field. His speed, accurate throwing and intelligent placement make him a nightmare to deal with in the field and his hand-eye coordination is so good that he very rarely puts a catch down.
In truth, every single player for England will play a massively important role in the upcoming tournament as a team that depends on one or two players will invariably fail. For England it is a real chance to see how far they have come and how close they are to conquering the cricketing world.