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England aim to make World Cup history in a bid to retain title

England players celebrate winning the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2022 Final between Pakistan and England at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Melbourne on November 13, 2022 AFP/File

England are gearing up for the upcoming World Cup in India with the ambitious goal of becoming just the third team ever to retain their title, solidifying their reputation as the dominant force in white-ball cricket. 

The memory of their early exit from the 2015 World Cup still stings, but since then, England have risen to become the reigning world champions in both men’s one-day international and Twenty20 cricket.

For years, Test cricket, particularly the Ashes series against Australia, held a special place in the hearts of England players. However, a shocking 15-run loss to Bangladesh in Adelaide during the 2015 World Cup served as a wake-up call. 

Andrew Strauss, who assumed the role of managing director of England cricket following this debacle, initiated a clear separation between the Test and limited-overs teams.

Under Strauss’s guidance, Peter Moores was replaced by Trevor Bayliss as the coach, primarily for his expertise in white-ball cricket. Eoin Morgan retained his role as the limited-overs captain, ensuring continuity and stability in leadership. The team’s focus shifted towards the long-term, prioritizing players who fit the desired style of play and who could contribute to World Cup success.

England also expanded their ODI schedule during this period, with leg-spinner Adil Rashid playing a pivotal role in Morgan’s lineup, featuring in 83 50-over matches between the 2015 and 2019 World Cups. 

Drawing inspiration from the Indian Premier League and New Zealand’s aggressive approach, Morgan instilled a more attacking batting mindset in the team.

The results were astounding. England achieved their first 400-plus total during a series against New Zealand and set world records for ODI totals, including 444 in 2016, 481 in 2018, and 498 against the Netherlands in the previous year. This powerful batting lineup allowed England’s bowlers to focus on attacking rather than restraining the run-rate.

Morgan’s leadership was marked by decisiveness, exemplified by his decision to replace David Willey with the talented Jofra Archer just before the 2019 World Cup, a move that paid off handsomely. Despite their meticulous planning and the brilliance of players like Joe Root and Ben Stokes, England needed a Super Over to secure their first World Cup triumph in a thrilling final at Lord’s.

Now, as they prepare to defend their title in India, England aims to join the elite company of the West Indies and Australia as consecutive World Cup winners. 

Although they’ve played fewer ODIs in the four years since the 2019 edition, England’s squad boasts IPL experience, providing them with familiarity ahead of their World Cup campaign, which kicks off against New Zealand on October 5. 

While the squad may have an age gap, captain Jos Buttler believes that as long as players perform, age is irrelevant.

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