London: With less than 100 days until the 2019 World Cup gets underway, might it be the year that England lift the global game’s premier limited-overs trophy at long last?
England — the pioneers of one-day cricket as a professional sport — have taken part in every World Cup since staging the inaugural men’s event in 1975.
But all they have to show for their efforts are runners-up medals from the 1979, 1987 and 1992 finals.
Test cricket has long been the priority for everyone in English cricket, be they players, fans or administrators. That changed, however, after another World Cup group-stage exit at the 2015 edition in Australia and New Zealand was sealed with a woeful loss to Bangladesh.
Then England and Wales Cricket Board supremo Andrew Strauss decreed that white-ball cricket would no longer be the “poor relation”, with the former England captain sacking head coach Peter Moores and bringing in Australian Trevor Bayliss specifically to turn round the team’s limited-overs form.
The transformation has been remarkable with a newly-liberated England twice setting new records for the highest ODI totals — their 444 for three against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in 2016 a prelude to last year’s colossal 481 for six at the same ground.
England, captained in 50-over cricket by former Ireland batsman Eoin Morgan, with the side featuring Test skipper Joe Root and the hard-hitting talents of Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Jos Buttler, now sit atop the ODI world rankings heading into their upcoming five-match series away to the West Indies.