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Cricket World Cup Report - England favoured to win

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Feb 18, 2019, 10:07

The following from News24:-

"With 100 days until the 2019 Cricket World Cup gets underway, might it be the year that England lift the global game's premier limited-overs trophy at long last?

England - the pioneers of one-day cricket as a professional sport - have taken part in every World Cup since staging the inaugural men's event in 1975.

But all they have to show for their efforts are runners-up medals from the 1979, 1987 and 1992 finals.

Test cricket has long been the priority for everyone in English cricket, be they players, fans or administrators.

That changed, however, after another World Cup group-stage exit at the 2015 edition in Australia and New Zealand was sealed with a woeful loss to Bangladesh.

Then England and Wales Cricket Board supremo Andrew Strauss decreed that white-ball cricket would no longer be the "poor relation", with the former England captain sacking head coach Peter Moores and bringing in Australian Trevor Bayliss specifically to turn round the team's limited-overs form.

The transformation has been remarkable with a newly-liberated England twice setting new records for the highest ODI totals - their 444 for three against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in 2016 a prelude to last year's colossal 481 for six at the same ground.

England, captained in 50-over cricket by former Ireland batsman Eoin Morgan, with the side featuring Test skipper Joe Root and the hard-hitting talents of Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Jos Buttler, now sit atop the ODI world rankings heading into their upcoming five-match series away to the West Indies.

"We can say we were the best ODI side to play for England... but without a trophy, it will be difficult to say that," said all-rounder Moeen Ali, looking to help England's men win just their second major global event following the 2010 World T20 in the Caribbean.

"We have come close and we feel now is the time."

"We don't feel we have to win it, it's more 'this is the time to win it'. We are an amazing side but we know this year is massive for us," added Moeen, with England, as was the case in 1975, playing host to a World Cup and an Ashes series in the same season.

But unlike that first eight-team edition 43 years ago, which featured two then non-Test sides in East Africa and the long since elevated Sri Lanka, this year's event will be a 10-team affair contested solely by Test nations.

Ever since India and Pakistan were both knocked out in the group stage of the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, thereby putting a huge dent in broadcast audiences, attendance figures and commercial revenues for the rest of the tournament, International Cricket Council (ICC) chiefs have been determined no such 'nightmare scenario' will ever befall both Asian giants again.

The result has been a decrease in the number of non-Test nations involved to the point none will take part this year.

That has seen the ICC criticised for making the World Cup too narrow at a time when other sports are expanding rather than cutting the number of teams involve in their global showpiece events.

But ICC officials point to the creation of a qualifying tournament - from which two-time champions West Indies only narrowly emerged - as proof the non-Test world still has a shot at the World Cup.

Rather than have pool stages this year, the ICC have opted for an all-play-all group format - a move that many believe has more to do with ensuring India, cricket's financial powerhouse, are guaranteed a minimum of nine matches than sporting fairness for all the teams taking part.

Such a lengthy group phase ahead of the semi-finals does reduce the chances of any team going through to the July 14 final at Lord's unbeaten.

Reigning champions Australia, set to be boosted by the return of star batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner following their lengthy ball-tampering bans, will be bidding for a sixth title.

India, with Virat Kohli at the helm, are a major force in all formats while Pakistan defied expectations to win the 2017 Champions Trophy in England.

New Zealand will be keen to go one better after losing in the 2015 final, while South Africa will arrive hoping to end years of World Cup heartbreak.

West Indies, the 1975 and 1979 champions, will have an extra incentive this year after Sunday's announcement that star batsman Chris Gayle will retire from ODIs following this year's World Cup."

There is no betting yet on the WC so one has to assume that the above is based on an analysis of what is expected from the England team - which at present is the highest ranked ODI team in World Cricket.

Mention is made as to India and SA as the second and third ranked ODI teams in World Cricket, but the SA set-up is not healthy at all.   The top 5 batsmen has been showing serious problems - which relates to actual batting performance in all formats of the game of cricket,   Looking at the previous World Cups in 2011 and 2015  


The 2011 quarterfinal was a mess and in the game the following players were disastrously poor - looking at the players still in contention:-

*    Amla          -       7  runs from 5 balls

*    Du Plessis -     36 runs from 43 balls

*    Duminy      -       3 runs from 12 balls

New Zealand made 221 runs for 8.   South Africa was all out for 172 runs in 43,2 overs.


The 2015 semi-fnal  was a mess and in the game the following players were disastrously poor - looking at the players still in contention:-

*    Amla           -    10 runs from 14 balls

*    De Kock      -    14 runs from 17 balls

*    Du Plessis   -     82 runs from 107 balls

*    Miller            -     49 runs from 18 balls

The ODI was lost because of bowling problems when Philander was rushed in after injury,   De Kock after an absence of more than 3 months out because of injury did not bat well.

The real problem was Amla - in the two critical ODI's Amla made a total of 17 runs from 19 balls.   He factually collapsed in both crucial games and that while he was in top form in the series before the WC series referred to.  He apparently cannot take the stress associated with crucial games.  Besides his batting problems he is a poor fielder as well as was proven in the recent tests and OFI's he played in. 

Amla is still in contention for the next WC.    However, his batting is now questionable in all forms of cricket he plays in.  In his last 11 ODI's he managed to make good scores in 3 and in all three those ODI's  SA lost the games,   This was largely due to an ineffective strike rate in crucial part of the games by Amla (ie a strike rate in overs 40 to 46 when he was batting at a rate of 4,8 rpo - way below par in that phase of ODI's.

So what should be done insofar as SA competitiveness in the upcoming WC is concerned:-

*   The batting should be strengthened  by replacing Amla with Van der Dussen.   

*   The inclusion in the team of Duminy would be a gamble - he has not played competitive cricket since August 2018 and will not play in the IPL either,     

*    Philander was brought back from injury in 2015 and included in the semi despite serious question marks about injury concerns and was a serious flop - they could not sue him for ten overs - he was extremely expensive and ineffective.   He has now returned to play test cricket, but there are serious question marks about his effectiveness.   His pace is about 10 kms slower than he used to be and even though he still takes a few wickets he is expensive - which in the WC would be a disaster.

South Africa could be a threat in the WC - but they will have to look beyond Amla, Duminy and Philander if they want to be competitive.   It is not as if they are  irreplaceable - they are and there are alternative options available.  I mentioned Van der Dussen - but Ngidi is an obvious choice ahead of Philander and either Hamza and even Muller would be an improvement on Duminy.           

Time to move away from the chokers and find new players.




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