With the ICC Cricket World Cup having got underway at the end of May, England is once again on the quest for glory in the competition.
Despite reaching the World Cup final on three occasions between 1979 and 1992, England has never been crowned world champion.
In 1979 – only the second-ever tournament – West Indies beat England in the final to retain the crown they had won four years previously.
The 1987 final in India saw Australia defeat the English and five years later in Melbourne, Pakistan was the team to crush England’s hopes.
This year’s WC is being hosted throughout England and Wales with 10 nations competing for glory. It’s a star-studded lineup as well with no fewer than seven of the teams ever-presents at all WC finals since its inception in 1975. Those seven countries are England, India, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Zealand, West Indies.
Of those seven nations, only England and New Zealand have never lifted the ICC Cricket WC trophy. Australia is the most successful with five wins. India and West Indies have both won the competition twice while Sri Lanka and Pakistan were champions one time each.
After 11 tournaments and three appearances in the final, without success, the 2019 WC is huge for English cricket. Team captain Eoin Morgan will be relishing the opportunity of being the first man to lift the trophy for England. This is the second WC that Morgan, an Irishman, has been captain of the English cricket team.
Since the last tournament in 2015, England has managed to beat every competing team in the 2019 tournament besides Afghanistan.
At the time of writing, England has played its first two group fixtures, beating South Africa on the opening day before then losing narrowly to Pakistan in what some have called a classic encounter. Morgan and co still have seven teams to play so there is plenty of time left for heroics in the group stages.
All 10 teams will play each other in this group stage with the top four in the group table qualifying for the WC semi-finals. This England team will hope to still be in the mix for the semis in July.
What a victory it would be if England could finally get the monkey off its back with WC success this summer.
Trevor Bayliss’ side is currently ranked number one in the world and will be delighted to have started their tournament off with an impressive win over South Africa, ranked third.
However, the Pakistan defeat (ranked sixth) shows that, as with any sport, anything can happen on any given day.
England is currently priced as 2/1 favourites to lift the trophy in July, followed by India at 10/3 and Australia at 7/2. Yet, that weight of expectation has a tendency to play on the minds of many teams in all sports, especially on the world stage. Only two games in, it’s too early to call how England will cope with being favourites. But knowing that you can become a legend of the game, an immortal being in sporting terms, is sure to be all the motivation Bayliss’ team needs.
England need only look to its footballing counterparts. The 1966 World Cup-winning side is regarded as the best the country has ever produced, with almost every player on that winning team still a household name throughout the nation.
The tournament is being broadcast on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The coverage and exposure for the game will be of levels that cricket may never have experienced before. Over 60 countries throughout the world will be airing the competition live from England and Wales. Such worldwide coverage is sure to help the growth of the game around the globe.
Defeat to the Pakistanis may well have planted a seed of doubt in the minds of some English cricket fans but Trevor Bayliss and his men will still believe that they are good enough to belong in the final come July.
Second favourites, Australia, may well be the team they have to overcome and the five-time winners and current world champions will certainly provide a tough a test as any for England.
If England can win, the side will create a cricketing legacy that will enhance the love of the game through generations, inevitably growing the value of the sport, specifically in its one day format.