England



Chances of Success Rating 7.2/10 (3rd)


England have won the World Cup on three occasions - 1973, 1993 and most recently in Australia in 2009. Three players survive from that 2009 final - Katherine Brunt, Laura Marsh and Sarah Taylor - plus Jenny Gunn, who would have played in Sydney but for a last-minute injury. The reality however is that this feels like a 100% different side from the one which also won the World T20 that year; but which subsequently failed to live up to the hopes at the time, that they were set to dominate women's cricket for the next 10 years.

That the highs of 2009 ultimately proved to be short-lived partly explains why, six years later, Mark Robinson was appointed coach with a brief to shake things up - which he did by sacking Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway in the wake of the team's semi-final elimination in the 2016 World T20, making way for a new generation of talent to come to the fore.

Power batting from the likes of Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Winfield and Nat Sciver drove England to series whitewashes versus Pakistan last summer and away in Sri Lanka over the winter, but in-between in the West Indies last autumn it looked a lot more squeaky, as England suffered two horrendous batting collapses chasing not-huge totals, admittedly on slightly "interesting" pitches, out in Jamaica. Though England came away from the West Indies with a 3-2 series win, the main message they sent to the other top teams in the world was that their batting is fragile, especially when chasing - something that is unlikely to have been lost on anyone that wins a toss against them over the next month!

If England are to progress in this World Cup, then it is with their bowlers that their hopes really rest - in particular the new-ball partnership of Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole. Both have had chronic injury issues in the past though, and the backup pace options England have just aren't in the same league, so one of the most important people in the England camp will be the physio charged with keeping the two of them fit for the duration of the tournament - expect them to be rotated for the "easier" games against Pakistan and Sri Lanka!

In the spin department Mark Robinson likes variety, so with no leggies "on the books" he looks likely to go with the left/ right combo of Alex Hartley and one of Laura Marsh or Dani Hazell, with of course Heather Knight also offering an additional option.

Sophie Devine recently told CRICKETher that home advantage meant England were among the favourites; and it is true that familiarity with local conditions can be important, though that could apply equally to New Zealand, several of whose key players have spent much of the last two summers here. But with home advantage comes home pressure, and this will sit heavily on England. Every time Heather Knight opens her mouth to say England "can" win it, the press seem to hear the word "will" instead, and the weight of expectations will be immense for a side who have a bit of a reputation for wilting when the heat is on. Would it be a "shock" if they won it? No - but at this stage in this team's development they are more of an each-way bet, not quite the favourites.

Comments

  1. England. Where to start? A team that has seen a lot of change in the past 18 months or so. We have a lot of good players, both batsmen and bowlers, but aren't quite sure whether they can do it at the highest level (except maybe Sarah Taylor). They should be able to finish in the top four but after that, who knows? I think their chances (taking into account familiarity with the conditions) gives them about an equal chance with NZ, just behind favourites Australia.

    Their chances may depend a lot on how each opposition side goes about their tactics. England have traditionally done quite well in low scoring games, and have not been involved in too many encounters where both sides have got 250+. One such match springs to mind, in South Africa (2015) which England eventually lost. Aggression seems to be the best path against England- hit their best bowlers out of the attack then take advantage of the second string replacements. Sides who've tried a more timid approach have not met with much success. I'm not so convinced that batting first would be the right thing against England. It depends on the team and the conditions. Who fancies facing Brunt and Shrubsole on an overcast morning with the ball moving round a bit? I would also prefer England to avoid Australia altogether following the group tie, although of course that may not be possible.

    I find the "chasing collapse" meme constantly trotted out against England to be rather tiresome, and not applicable to England more than any other sides. Some of these chases were always going to be difficult and all sides fail sometimes in pursuit of runs. Take the example you've used - most recent series in West Indies. OK, I'll admit they should have got closer to the 148 in the second game, but it was half-centurion Stafanie Taylor's moment, the only player to score over 27 runs. The 220 England scored in the 3rd ODI was a great score, WI got nowhere near it - so WI's own total of 223 in the following match was never going to be chaseable. Chasing was just hard for everyone in that series, full stop.

    It was only 2 years previously that a New Zealand side featuring Bates, McGlashan, Sattherthwaite and Devine were whitewashed in a 4-0 series defeat in St.Kitts, including the somewhat ignominious feat of being bowled out for 69 in the 3rd ODI. England didn't (quite!) plumb those depths. Yet you ignore that and seem to fancy them a lot more than England for this World Cup. If Australia had had to play WI away, even they might have gone down a game or two as well I think. It was just the luck of the draw that they got them at home, which was always going to be much more straightforward.

    I just hope that England's performances are good enough to avoid a media mauling like that seen after the last World T20. Maybe playing down their chances is the best idea after all!

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