posted on 2019-05-13 14:04:57
posted by Karthik Raj
England's batting can boast to be probably the World's best. They showed it against Pakistan in the 2nd ODI at Southampton. In fact, England's outrageous batting displays have been on view quite a few times ever since the last World Cup in 2015. But one month before the World Cup, there seems to be a lot of issues for the English bowling attack sans Jofra Archer. And given the fact that World Cups and other big tournaments are generally won by the best bowling attack, there may be some concerns for England while going into a World Cup which has been dubbed by many experts as the home team's best chance to win the ultimate prize in this format.
It has to be said that there has been a sea change in the way England approach limited overs cricket these days as compared to the period prior to the 2015 World Cup. During that period, England stuck onto an outdated version of limited overs cricket whereby their test cricketers were also the key men for their ODI team. They didn't seem to realise the importance of specific cricketers for different formats. This came to haunt them badly when Bangladesh defeated England in the 2015 World Cup which also meant that they were embarrassingly knocked out from the group stages itself. Fast forward to 2019 and the majority of cricket fans and experts believe that England are the best ODI side and have tagged the team as huge favorites for the upcoming World Cup. This is mainly due to the influx of dynamic players like Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and consistency of others like Jos Buttler and captain Eoin Morgan. England's batting order is so good that even their No 11 can hold the willow pretty well. In fact, a few English experts termed England's approach with regards to ODI cricket as "Total Cricket".
While it might have a weird undertone attached to it, the term still signifies the importance given to batting depth. But this has come to effect partly because of the resources available to England. The likes of Willey, Woakes, Plunkett, Rashid became attractive options because of their batting ability. But one has to look at the reason as to why England have been required to notch up big totals. It is primarily because this English attack lacks the X-factor. There is no real pace or variety which can torment an opposition's batting line up. With World Cup 2019 likely to serve up flat tracks which offer nothing for the bowlers, the end result might depend upon the bowlers who possess an X-factor - Either pace or wrist spin which can turn matches on its head single-handedly. This is where Jofra Archer comes into the picture to give England an almighty boost with regards to the team's bowling unit. Jofra Archer has shown his star quality in the T20 leagues around the world for the past 2-3 years. This prompted England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to change the qualification rules so that Jofra Archer could be available for the World Cup. While he was initially required to comply by 7-year qualification criteria, ECB reduced it to 4 years last year. This implies how important Jofra Archer is to England's hopes at the World Cup.
The speciality with Jofra Archer is that he can make things happen when nothing is going right for the others. Archer bowls consistently at speeds above 140 KPH. In fact, Jofra Archer's 4 over spell against Pakistan in the 1st ODI was so quick that he managed to clock up an average speed of 143.94 KPH. That average speed is the quickest by any English pacer in this decade. Also, he bowls at such a pace by just ambling through his run-up. While his athleticism is there for everyone to see, it won't be a surprise if batsmen fail to judge the pace at which he bowls. Jofra Archer can also bowl at any stage in an inning. He is equally adept with the new ball, through the middle overs and at the death too. Archer's consistency at bowling hard lengths makes it difficult for batsmen to have a go at him. In short, he is a complete package with sharp bouncers, toe-crushing yorkers and movement off the pitch when there is some help.
If this wasn't enough, Jofra Archer also fulfils England's all-round requirements by being a very useful contributor with the bat. His athletic fielding makes him an addition that any team would crave for. While Jofra Archer's addition will excite many a cricket fan around the world, some members of the England World Cup squad will also be fretting a bit considering that they could lose their place to the amazingly talented Barbados-born pacer. England's move to rest Archer from the second ODI against Pakistan only strengthens the claim that Jofra Archer might have already sealed his World Cup place through his stunning 4-over spell in the 1st ODI. As a result, the likes of Woakes, Willey, Plunkett have to be at their very best to ensure that their World Cup spot is safe. This will only further enhance their performance due to sheer pressure and that could be an added bonus from Archer's late selection.
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