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A look at England's chances in the 2015 World Cup

IANS
FEATURED WRITER
Feature
1.34K   //    11 Feb 2015, 17:53 IST
England have had a poor record in recent World Cups

Melbourne, Feb 11 - The England team, courtesy of their World Cup performances over the years, has had the unfortunate tag of 'always a bridesmaid and never the bride' associated with them. The inventors of the game have never lifted the World Cup trophy but will look to break the jinx when the quadrennial competition kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday.

Following the initial few editions, where the English were always in the fray, their fortunes have changed dramatically. In the first five editions, England finished runners-up thrice and were two-time semifinalists.

However, after their surprise defeat to Pakistan in the 1992 final, England have failed to get beyond the quarterfinal stage, getting knocked out in the group stages twice.

A tumultuous last year has seen one of England's most successful batsmen Kevin Pietersen exit the team in controversial circumstances and the man who captained the side in 69 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) - Alastair Cook - unceremoniously dumped from the World Cup squad.

Cook was given unequivocal support both by the England coach Peter Moores and Paul Downton, the managing director of England cricket, during the entire Pietersen saga.

Even though Cook's character came out shining, the left-hander could barely buy a run.

However, in what many English fans will see as the light at the end of the tunnel, England have looked a solid outfit under new skipper Eoin Morgan.

Morgan led England to the final of the tri-series that involved Australia and India. And besides a few stutters at crucial junctures that cost them dearly, England were out there competing till the end.

England beat defending World Cup champions India convincingly in both their matches and, but for a Steven Smith special, had Australia on the mats in one of the group games. But they lacked the final bite to really cause any damage in the summit clash.

A nine-wicket thrashing of the West Indies in their first warm-up game would have instilled massive belief in the team, which will only do them good.

Their next warm-up against the unpredictable Pakistan will go a long way in determining their true credentials.

Things, however, could get out of England's hand very quickly. The Englishmen face the co-hosts, Australia and New Zealand, in the first two matches of the 14-nation tournament. Defeat in those matches could prove to be fatal.

They take on Australia on the opening day here and then face New Zealand in their next encounter on February 20.

Their fourth match against Sri Lanka, which is on March 1, could very well be the deciding game for the English.

With a Scotland fixture (February 23) in the middle and the final two games against Bangladesh (March 9) and Afghanistan (March 13), England will have to be on their toes throughout.

They would do well to remember and learn from their humiliating loss to neighbours and minnows Ireland in the last edition in the Indian subcontinent.

However, a strong pace attack led by James Anderson could hold the key for England, especially in conditions conducive for fast bowling.

Anderson's partners Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes have also been in good form while the batsmen will be led by in-form opener Ian Bell.

Bell has been in sparkling form and only recently overtook Paul Collingwood as his country's most successful ODI batsman with 5,154 runs.

The middle-order, though, is a cause for concern. Morgan is the only batsman who England can rely on in the middle overs. Joe Root and Ravi Bopara are yet to prove themselves in times of adversity.

Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali are the only England batsmen among the top 30 players with healthy strike rates. Buttler's strike rate is 108.89 while Ali's is 102.27.

Squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Joe Root, James Taylor, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes

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