England developing into real contenders for 2019 World Cup glory
Eleven Cricket World Cups have whistled by without the inventors of the game lifting the trophy, but patient punters might just be rewarded for taking a risk on the latest crop of England ODI players breaking that painful cycle.
Of course, the countdown to the next edition of cricket’s white ball pinnacle has only really just begun. England still have to wait just a smidgen under three years before the Oval plays host to the opening fixture of the 2019 World Cup.
Therefore, the 5/1 about the Three Lions winning the trophy, having crashed out so ingloriously at the group stages in Australia and New Zealand last year, might be considered a tad speculative to say the least.
A notion backed up by Australia’s dominance – they’ve now won four of the past five tournaments after securing their 2015 crown – makes the Gold Caps rightful 3/1 favourites, ahead of two-time champs India at 4s, alongside South Africa.
Ah, but not if you’ve been keeping tabs on the hasty transformation from the seemingly clueless mob that returned home from the Antipodes last spring, into the power-hitting record breakers of 2016 under Aussie head coach Trevor Bayliss.
The head coach’s appointment in the aftermath of that disaster Down Under now seems as inspired as Eddie Jones’ capture when England’s rugby team plummeted to similar depths.
Firstly the Proteas were given a run for their money in a 3-2 away series loss at the start of the year, which England somehow tossed away after taking a 2-0 lead, before Sri Lanka and now Pakistan have been defeated in successive series on home soil this summer.
While defeating supposedly weaker-than-usual subcontinent sides in green conditions will rightly have many observers exercising caution over their appraisals of England’s perennial underachievers in the 50-over format, there is reason for huge optimism moving forward.
A rare 5-0 whitewash of a Pakistan is in the pipeline, not forgetting they also overturned them 3-1 in the Emirates last November for an even rarer away ODI series win in scorched surroundings.
The world record-breaking total of 444-3 at Trent Bridge to clinch the current series against Azhar Ali’s tourists shows exactly what this group are capable of, especially in conditions they relish.
That opener Alex Hales also broke Robin Smith’s long-held highest score with his swashbuckling knock of 171, showed how loose the shackles have become under Bayliss, while wicket keeper Jos Buttler hardened his rep as one of the most vicious hitters about, by smashing 90 off only 51 balls.
A fifth ODI fifty in a row for Joe Root showed just why the Yorkshireman is among the elite batsman in all three formats too.
In essence, the ability to clear the rope exists virtually all the way through the order. Jason Roy, Hales, Root, Morgan, Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and beyond them to Mooen Ali or even Liam Plunkett are all capable of turning it on T20 style.
This is arguably the best ODI batting line-up England have ever had at their disposal.
Many harder tests will follow, especially on foreign soil, not least the forthcoming five-match series in India beginning in January.
Then there are unresolved question marks over the quality of Ali and Adil Rashid’s spin against the classier sides.
The beauty of this long-sighted bet though, is that nearly all of these guys are still around the 25 mark and continuing to improve, while the fact England play hosts in 2019 is the clincher.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.