Things have changed significantly for the England cricket team after their early exit from the 2015 World Cup. The change in their approach towards limited over cricket has shown positive results and now they find themselves on the top of the ICC ODI rankings.
Their aggressive approach towards limited overs cricket has paid off as they managed to reach the knockout round in both the ICC tournaments conducted after the 2015 World Cup. Only team India has managed to do so.
England is still in search of their maiden ODI World Cup. England is the only team besides New Zealand who has competed in every ODI World Cup since its inauguration in 1975 but has failed to win it even once.
The English summer of 2019 seems to be the best ever opportunity for the English team to end their World Cup drought. The World Cup 2019 is set to be hosted in England for the fifth time in the World Cup history. Last time in 1999, when England hosted the World Cup, they were crashed out of the first round itself.
But, England is altogether a different team now. They play in a way none other English team played and in 2019, they have a realistic chance of doing what none other English team did i.e, lifting the World Cup for the first time that too in their home soil.
However, there are few hindrances that might come England's way of achieving their dreams and England too would be eager to correct it before the mega event.
Let's have a look at these,
#3. The Middle Order muddle
The England team are heavily dependent upon their top order to do the bulk of the scoring. And this has happened more often than not. England is the only team to have scored 300+ most times post-2015 World Cup. In this process, they notched up two highest ever ODI score, most recently being 481-6 in 50 overs against the Aussies in June 2018. On almost all the occasions whenever they have gone past 300, any 1 batsman from the top 3 have gone on to score a big score.
Whenever the top 3 have failed, England has failed miserably. 2-3 quick wickets and England seems to surrender themselves to the opposition. England lack players in the middle order who can play the situation.
Although such occasions have rarely occurred in the last few years for the England team, the World Cup is such a stage where this is most liable to occur.
Most recently when it happened in an ODI, it was against Australia. To complete a historic 5-0 whitewash, England needed to chase down 206 runs in 50 overs. It was to be a cakewalk for the ultra-aggressive batting line up. But Agar and Stanlake ripped off the top order and England were reduced to 23 for 3 after 6 overs.
The vulnerability of middle order once again came to the fore as the next 3 could add only 63 runs. It was a special inning from Buttler and an 81-run ninth wicket stand between him and Adil Rashid that saw them through as they won the thriller by one wicket. This way they completed a historic 5-0 ODI whitewash of the Aussies.
The inconsistency in the middle order might hinder England's progress in the World Cup. They have to step up when required if they have to go the distance.