England, for the first time, will go into a World Cup as the leading contender to win the coveted trophy. After crashing out in the group stage level in the 2015 edition, England seemed to have rejuvenated in a manner no other team could manage in four years. The extent of England's dominance in the limited-overs format can be judged by the fact they have not lost a bilateral series in the last two years.
Beaming with confidence after their recent thrashing of Pakistan in the five-match ODI series, the Eoin Morgan-led side will begin their 2019 campaign in the tournament opener against South Africa on May 30.
However, a 12-run loss to Australia and a few injuries here and there in the first warm-up game have affected their momentum. But, the hosts can get it back in the second and final warm-up fixture against Afghanistan on May 27 and then go on a high to the first game of the showpieche event.
Here is a SWOT analysis of the England World Cup squad:
The biggest strength for England by far is that they have the strongest batting line-up among all teams participating in the World Cup.
The opening pair of Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy has been destructive at the top of the order and have been in sublime touch. While Roy blasted two centuries in the recently concluded ODI series against Pakistan, Bairstow also scored a ton, which was succeeded by his 445 runs in his debut IPL edition.
However, their weapon-in-chief has been Jos Buttler, who has performed for them in almost all the three formats of the game. Buttler has won many matches for England in the last two-three years. In the second ODI against Pakistan, his 110 off 55 deliveries at a strike rate of 200, adorned by six fours and nine towering sixes was one of the best displays of ODI batting that one can ever watch.
And in the middle order, they have the likes of Morgan and Joe Root who can prove to be equally destructive.
The England bowling department boasts of having the likes of Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and Jofra Archer. Woakes and Wood, although depend on swing and if, it is not available on a particular day, they can go for plenty.
Another cause of concern is the inconsistent form of all-rounder Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali. Stokes and Ali both had an ordinary IPL and didn't impress much either against Pakistan in the ODI series which England won 4-0.
The biggest opportunity would be perhaps for Jofra Archer who got included in the final 15 after impressing everyone in the IPL and the following ODIs against Pakistan. His ability to bowl consistently at the 140 kmph is something which all teams would have to be wary off.
Also, playing at home and being familiar with the conditions also provide England with the best possible chance they could have ever asked for in the World Cup.
Former skipper Michael Vaughan also believes that this is the best opportunity for England to win the World Cup. "This England squad is the best I've seen. They have earned the right to be favourites," Vaughan said. "It's the best opportunity in my time for England - I remember 1992 as a youngster, watching that final at college," he added.
One of the threats that England will have to beware of is the pressure of expectations. They have never gone into the World Cup as favourites and the additional pressure of being the hosts would mean Morgan will have to lead his troops in a manner they don't get carried away and play fearless and attacking mode of cricket they have been playing in the last four years.
Squad: Eoin Morgan (C), Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow (WK), Joe Root, James Vince, Jos Buttler (WK), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood
(With inputs from IANS)