Under the tutelage of Andy Flower, England seems to overcome a tumultuous period in their history between 2006/2007 and the start of 2009 and look to have forged a great alliance. The absence of the real big stars except Kevin Pietersen has definitely helped the side in gelling well and the performances have begun to show up. They did well in the Champions Trophy of 2009 before beating South Africa, Australia, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the ODI series played this year.
England has often epitomised the ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ syndrome when it comes to World Cup. Finally, they managed to capture a World Cup – in the T20 version – in 2010, but the big question-mark is over their lack of temperament to survive in a tournament of this nature. As their previous record below suggests, the inability to win big tournaments could just be their biggest weakness.
The English team’s best opportunity in the tournament stems from the fact that in the list of favourites their name is probably fifth or sixth in the pecking order. And this, despite the fact that they possess a good line-up this time around with a lot of confidence going for them. If they can get through to the quarter-final of the tournament unnoticed, from there on, it will just be a matter of having three good days for a team that has shown the potential to do so.
It is the small matter of Ashes in their way. And in a funny way, what could work against England is if they go on to win the same. One has seen in the 2009 edition of the Ashes that England had won against many odds and gone on to lose the ODI series than followed 6-1. If they do manage to put it across Australia in the Ashes for the first time since 1987, the release of pressure could work against them, leading up to the World Cup.
England have never won a World Cup before despite being the finalists on three occasions. The last of these three finals came in 1992 – and since then, they haven’t even got to the semi-finals of the event. In 1996, they were blasted off by the eventual champions Sri Lanka, in 1999, they failed to move out of the first round of their home World Cup. 2003 was no better than 1999 while in 2007 they entered the Super Eight stage. Some of their better performances came in the 1979, 1987 and 1992, when they entered the finals but lost on each occasion – to West Indies, Australia and Pakistan respectively.
Andrew Strauss has done enough to merit his place as the captain of the side and should continue leading the side.
It is almost a shock as it is sign of the change in things in English cricket that the player to watch out for will be an off-spinner Graeme Swann. Swann is easily the best spinner in the world currently and will look to exploit the favourable sub-continental conditions to his advantage.