England have never won a 50-over World Cup – this statement has been haunting the English cricketing community for decades. They made it to one final, in 1992, but lost out to Pakistan from an arguably winning position in the chase. The last edition in 2015 wasn’t a memorable one either; they couldn’t go beyond the group stage. Fast forward to 2019, England are a totally different and evolved ODI unit.
Right from the top to the lower order, England have all the necessary ammunition with the bat. They have threatening bowlers – pacers and spinners alike too. Overall, they look like a perfectly balanced side, perhaps the most balanced side in the tournament, and have thus been touted as the favourites to win it. If they do win, it will be a hat-trick of hosts winning the World Cup, after India (2011) and Australia (2015).
Three Rajasthan Royals boys are part of the English squad. Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes were selected in the preliminary squad, while Jofra Archer slid in during the final squad announcement on 21st May. While Buttler and Stokes have ample experience in international cricket, Archer has just 3 ODIs under his belt. We take a closer look at how dangerous the three Royals can be during the tournament.
Jos Buttler – Runs: 3531, 50s: 18, 100s: 8, SR: 120 | Catches: 159, Stumpings: 29
The 2015 edition was Jos Buttler’s first World Cup appearance. Buttler managed to cross 50 just once, against Bangladesh. While he scored just 141 runs, he led the charts for the highest Strike Rate against English batsmen. He smashed the ball at 135, and was only one of two English batsmen to strike at over 100 in the tournament.
Back then, Buttler would come considerably lower down the order. However, his role has changed across the world since then. In T20 leagues around the world, including his time with Rajasthan Royals, Buttler has opened in T20 cricket, while he has risen in England’s ODI batting order as well. Jos has gone on to secure the top 2 fastest hundreds for England as well.
Buttler, also England’s vice-captain is a force that can change the momentum of a game in one over. Once he is on song, he can decimate any bowling attack in the World Cup. Buttler is in fine form heading into his second ICC World Cup. He scored three half-centuries with Rajasthan Royals in the Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL), and scored a belligerent century off just 50 balls against Pakistan at home. The 360 degree batsman scored a quick-fire 52 against Australia in England’s first World Cup warm-up fixture. He took Nathan Coulter-Nile for 24 runs in an over during the chase, and Buttler has the tendency to tee off in this fashion; remember the Alzari Joseph over when he scored 89 against Mumbai Indians in April?
Whatever he has done with the bat are just signs of what carnage he could cause during the World Cup. Buttler could be the key to England finishing off their innings on the right note. He will also be vital behind the wickets, as a keeper plays a huge role in keeping the team’s morale high on the field during high pressure situations.
Ben Stokes - Runs: 2217, 50s: 15, 100s: 3, SR: 94.17 | Wickets: 63, Eco Rate: 6.15
Eyebrows were raised when Ben Stokes wasn’t picked in England’s 2015 World Cup squad. He was one of their leading all-rounders at that time, and continues to be so to this day. This will be Stokesy’s maiden World Cup and he will be keen to make a difference to the side.
Stokes brings all three aspects of cricket into play when he takes the field. Give him a bat and he can dissect any bowling attack with both grace and power. Give him the ball, and he can send them down at over 140 clicks. Put him anywhere on the field, and he will fling himself to the widest of balls in attempts to pull out incredible catches. Stokesy is q three-dimensional player that any team would love to have in their World Cup XI.
Post the Vivo IPL, Stokesy has put in some consistent performances with both bat and ball. More notably, he scored a match-winning, unbeaten 71 against Pakistan. England were in danger of collapsing when Stokes got in, but he guided the ship and took them home during the chase.
Stokes’ key role during the World Cup will be his batting. With England going in with many options in the pace department, Stokes may not need to bowl as many overs as was once expected of him. Having said that, he could be used as a partnership breaker, and if the conditions offer swing, he could even finish his quota of overs. Stokes will be looked at as one of England’s frontline all-rounders at the World Cup.
Jofra Archer – Wickets: 24, Eco Rate: 5.23, Balls/Wicket: 35.9 (List A)
He is young, he is dynamic, and he wants to become the best in the world. Jofra Archer waited in the sidelines to do his time in England to become eligible for a call-up to the national squad. The wait ended in May, when he played a T20I against Pakistan and eventually went on to feature in the ODI series as well. In short bursts and with whatever opportunities he could grab, Archer did enough to prove to the English selectors that he deserved a ticket to the 15-member England squad for the World Cup.
In the 3 ODIs he played against Pakistan, Archer troubled the Pakistani batsmen with pace and some swing. For a bowler with his pace, you don’t need prodigious swing; all you need is for the ball to move a touch and fox batsmen.
Jofra couldn’t bowl during England’s first warm-up game against Australia due to a mild injury he picked up after a dive on the field. However, he returned fit against Afghanistan and got the batsmen hopping immediately. Archer claimed 3 wickets and staked a better claim to make it into the XI in the World Cup opener against South Africa.
We all know what Archer can do in T20 cricket, as he proved in 2018 and 2019 for Rajasthan Royals, along with the other T20 franchises he plays for. His List A numbers are pretty good too. In 17 games, the speedster has claimed 24 wickets which includes a 5-fer as well. The economy rate is quite good, at 5.23, considering that he bowls in the Powerplay as well as the death overs. Many former cricketers wanted him in the English squad, and he’s part of it now. It shouldn’t be long before we see a World Cup match-winning performance.
All the three Royals in the English side are match-winners, and more importantly, are in good form heading into the tournament. The rest of the English players are equally dangerous. It is no surprise that England are the number 1 ranked side in ODI cricket. There is one thing they will need to contend throughout the World Cup – the pressure of being the hosts and having to perform in front of their home crowd. The pressure will mount heavily if they lose a couple of games early. So, Eoin Morgan and his men will look to get some early wins under their belt and keep the momentum going right till the end. This England team are set out to achieve what no other English side has managed to in the 44 years of the ICC Cricket World Cup’s existence.