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The rise of British hegemony

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
270   //    25 Jun 2018, 14:32 IST

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The word on the street is that England are worth watching again. England are not the most gifted team but there are attributes that go into winning cricket matches and one of them is the mindset. Perhaps it was the sheer humiliation of the World Cup performance. Or it is the new brass at the ECB. More likely, the captains have decided that players must spread their wings and fly, or what is the point of it all. The right road has clearly been taken but why has it taken so long?

Decades of being taught to play the conservative and legitimate way - manuals prepared by Boycott, Gooch, Gower and likewise - have done the team no favours in modern era. When the players started in county cricket, the standards were clear. Move your feet, bat time, and never give your wicket away; bowl straight and full; walk in when fielding. 

Only on the day-off, a day of rest for most, could you emerge from submission and express yourself. Here, sweeps, slogs and slower balls held the same space as straight lines. County system was conceived with good intentions. Much of it is admirable and sought after by cricketers from abroad who see the county game as a finishing school.

But it is a system designed to represent the country through the region, and because there are a lot of them, that means a lot of cricket. It is not a system best appointed to develop international players or prepare them for international games.

Let’s go back to the debacle at the previous edition of the World Cup. Put simply, the system allowed it; a system that has sidelined the 50-overs format and turned it into a confused liability. Even the most conservative corners accepted that a change of attitude was not only necessary but inevitable.

England's batsmen were rooted to the spot; England's bowlers lack speed, swing and spin. The players' body language betrayed their fear of failure. The tournament was an explosion of the senses; an unveiling of the modern one-day game. The change came almost immediately - with the appointment of new personnel at the helm which made strong decisions and gave clarity where confusion had reigned.

It endorsed "no fear" approach which characterised the world's best players. Winning the 2019 World Cup in England was made a key part of the mission statement and best players were encouraged to go and mix it in the domestic twenty-over leagues elsewhere.

It encouraged a sense of endeavour and demanded a dynamic and audacious approach. Suddenly the players let their minds run free, and from this, their spirit came alive. Fear of failure was outlawed and the nasty little man chomping away somewhere at the back of the mind was overlooked.

The top order loves to swagger, middle order loves to browbeat and the bowlers run-in in tandem. Lady Luck offers her favour elsewhere. They have been to hell but are back with a smile and now promise something brighter and rewarding.

These are happy times for England. The future is bright and the future is limitless. Bring on, World Cup 2019!

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