The England squad picked to play in the World Cup next month gathered at Heathrow on Tuesday to fly Down Under for the start of their preparations for the tournament. But this was more than a long-haul flight, this was a voyage of discovery.
With a freshly installed captain, a coach that has admitted to not knowing his best XI and a history of World Cup woe to overcome, things look as frantic as ever before for the English cricket team. Yet there is a nagging sense of optimism surrounding the side’s 8/1 bid to be crowned champions.
The experience of new leader Eoin Morgan and core players Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson, Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara swirls with the vibrancy of youth provided by Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales and Chris Jordan to feed such a feeling, it just needs to all click at once.
Within the camp, as you would expect, there is a real belief that something special is around the corner and Broad was the latest to champion the sentiment that England can “play exciting cricket and capture the public’s imagination again.”
A string of poor results in all forms since last winter’s Ashes whitewash suggest an upturn in fortunes is long overdue and the removal of Alastair Cook as ODI skipper seems to have swatted away the pessimism in an instant.
“Immediately, it turned from that negative, ‘Oh we’re never going to win the World Cup’, to ‘We’ve got an exciting team that could do something’,” Broad said of the decision to replace Cook.
But has it come too late? There are just six ODIs for England to play before opening their World Cup campaign against Australia on Valentines Day, seven if they reach the final of the upcoming tri-series with the old foes and India.
Peter Moores and Morgan have yet to discuss team selection, at the coach’s admission, and the skipper didn’t even travel with the squad to Oz because he’s already there playing in the T20 Big Bash League.
Whether this is a last-minute decision that hinders the side or the move that finally releases an exciting brand of one-day cricket, England’s World Cup campaign will certainly be one to watch.
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