With supporting England usually comes hope, excitement and finally, disappointment. It’s been a fairly pointless experience observing England compete on the national stage in our most popular sports.
On Wednesday, England swept New Zealand aside in the semi-finals of the World T20 in India. Cricket, though not as popular as say Football, has not been exempt from the familiar trend of group stage exits. Just last year, England were embarrassed at the ODI World Cup going out in the group stages. Since, they have learnt to change and are now becoming one of the most formidable and exciting one-day sides to watch.
Central to their form is the implementation of a new coach, new players and new attitude. The enigma of Trevor Bayliss is all part of the process, slowly progressing in the shadow of the flamboyance on pitch. By flamboyance, I mean Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Chris Jordan. They are temperamental but effective, inexperienced but quick learners. That with the cool heads of Joe Root and Moeen Ali, who are apparently said to be the experienced members of this team. Gone are the days of Ian Bell, Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson in the short formats.
England have exemplified their willingness to change and adapt to keep up with the modern era of the game, while remaining as competent in the traditional formats.
So, how have they reached a World Cup final? Well, for those exact reasons. It may seem surprising to most that England have reached the final, but if you have tracked the side since the New Zealand ODI series, it is no real surprise. It is slightly unfair to highlight individual players for this tournament, as the whole run up has been a team effort. But the following players are why they will be playing in Kolkata on Sunday.
Jason Roy– After a difficult tour in South Africa, many were calling for Roy to be dropped. But credit to the selectors and coaching staff for sticking with him. He’s been cool, calm and destructive. He plays attacking from ball one and helped set the platform for the group stage win over South Africa. A man of the match performance vs New Zealand in the semi final paid back his supporters and silenced his critics, if there were any left.
Joe Root– Root has found himself at the heart of all England teams. They rely on his experience to get them out of dangerous situations. While not as powerful as some of his teammates, he’s as destructive. His innings vs South Africa to chase 229 was the pick of the tournament so far. Having one of the top three batsmen in the world is England’s luxury.
Jos Buttler– He gets most of the headlines with his huge sixes and 200 strike rate. Since being dropped from the test side, he has really honed in on his short day format cricket. He strides out to bat with a certain nonchalance that settles the rest of the team. Every sporting side needs a Jos Buttler.
Ben Stokes- The most terrifying cricketer in the side. The Stuart Pearce of cricket. Always fuming, Stokes goes about his business very loudly. You know if he’s at the crease, you know when he’s bowling and you had better not try to nick a 2 when finding him in the field. Despite it all, he’s one of the best players. His bowling has outdone his batting this tournament, with some crucial death bowling preventing both Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
Chris Jordan– He has become absolutely essential to England’s bowling attack. Currently, he’d be up there with the best death bowlers in the world. It hasn’t all been great by Jordan up until now, but turning it on when it matters is a testament to his skills.
5 players in a team of 11 are not the only reason of course. Morgan is a brilliant captain, Moeen Ali got them out of a hole against Afghanistan, Hales hasn’t found his feet this tournament, Willey has been an invaluable bowling option, Rashid proved himself to be more than worthy of his place in the Australian Big Bash.
It’s worth remembering that this revolution came as a result of an embarrassment in a previous World Cup. They learnt, moved on and adapted. They have looked to younger options who play with no fear. If that’s the framework for success, then football has a lot to learn. Rugby seem to be going that way and they’ve just obtained a Grand Slam and Six Nations trophy for their troubles.