In this week’s edition of Truthful Tuesday, we have a new take on English cricket, the one the fans have been hurling abuses on the internet for being flat-track bullies. However, those are the delusional fans, Eoin Morgan’s England are a perfect example of doing it all to win the World Cup.
Amidst all those decisions was the one they took after the 2017 Champions Trophy embarrassment that all pitches prepared in the country would be on the flatter side, aiding batsmen. In those two years leading up to the 2019 World Cup, England prepared roads masqueraded as ‘pitches,’ in varying cricketing grounds around the country but it was all done for a bigger reason.
Why do all the sides in the world play ODI cricket? Not to become No.1 everywhere but to get that coveted trophy. Don’t you think that’s the reason for playing all these ODI games before the tournament? Well, the Indian team did it before they took on all the sides in the 2011 World Cup, where they prepared a proper sub-continental pitch, which did not support any of the visiting teams, including South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia.
So that was really the point of building a flat-track dummy since they suffered the wrath in the 2017 edition of the tournament. Out of the 34 games at home post the disaster, England have won 25 of the games, which accounts for 73% of their games. On top of that, they win 4.166 games for every loss, with 44.74 runs per every wicket with 324 runs for every 50 overs in the country. All of this resulted in a win for them in the World Cup, so what’s wrong with that? They changed their approach and shaped it in such a way that they could win the 2019 edition at home.
Now that they have done it, England are not flat-track bullies, they are more than that - they are the only side in the world which has shaped themselves in such a way that they could win in limited-overs. They are tactical genius and you all judged them on the back of their loss against Australia in the first ODI of a three-match ODI series. First of all, let’s get it straight, they prepared conditions that were on the slower and lower side because the 2023 World Cup is in India, even before other countries could start preparing for the tournament.
This is not an England team from the pre-2010 era which struggles to identify how to adapt themselves to the situation, this is Eoin Morgan’s team, which knows how to win and if there is anything to support it, look at their win in the second ODI. Even before the change in conditions, a look at the squad will paint a better picture of how the Three Lions finally have a plan-B in place, unlike the other sides. Call them one-dimensional now and you will be terribly wrong, all of you who are typing on Twitter.
Imagine, they even back-tracked on whatever that has been said before about the IPL, with Eoin Morgan leading the defence for the tournament. In 2016, even before Morgan had really stepped up and left a mark on World cricket, he suggested that the ECB should allow more English players to participate in the IPL, with just three players being part of the tournament in the previous year. Once that equation changed, everything drastically started falling in place for the Three Lions. For some, it may all be a fluke but in reality, it was well-thought-out and Morgan really had sketched it all out for the management.
In the subsequent years of the tournament, more and more English players started becoming part of the IPL and currently, they had 13 players be part of the tournament. Be it Chris Woakes and Jason Roy, who are England’s regular players or be it Harry Gurney or Sam Curran, who are all aiming to be part of the squad, Morgan and ECB have them all part of the IPL auction, which will significantly boost their performance in the subcontinent. Interestingly, IPL is the place where the Three Lions figured out that Sam Billings is quite an option, remember the kid who turned up for Chennai Super Kings? Yes, it’s all been a different part of the same puzzle that the management has been trying to solve over the long years.
The inclusion of Sam Billings and the trust and faith on the likes of Sam Curran and Tom Curran paints a beautiful picture of all the good things that are to transcend into the English cricketing culture. Historically, it is true that they have been naive in their selection, tactics and more so in terms of having classical players into the team. They have never been as aggressive as the Australians, the West Indians and never have been equally innovative like the Indians, which has caused them severe damage in terms of titles. But now, it’s past them, they have an excellent captain in Eoin Morgan, who’s not as static as Joe Root when it comes to decision nor is as dynamic as the others in world cricket. He’s rather a mixture of all the things England have done historically right and all the things that they are aiming to get right.
If you think that the three players were just picked for the sake of it, you are wrong! Think of what they offer to the team and in what conditions they would be defending their trophy. Billings, an excellent option against spinners is preferred ahead of the others for the right reason. Both Sam and Tom Curran can not only line up during the early overs with the new ball, but they can also be an excellent option towards the back end, as Australia experienced it.
Every step they take, it looks more like Magnus Carlsen is leading them in the strategy department. Alongside that, they have trust on the players to perform just the way a Pep Guardiola had offered to Lionel Messi during his Barcelona managerial days, we all know how it all panned out!