2019 Cricket World Cup, Game 38, England v India
England could beat India. They absolutely could. They did it twice last year, thanks to a pair of Joe Root hundreds.
But we’re finding it hard to get past that short bout of addition in the headline. At some point in the match, England batsmen fighting to stay in The Most Important World Cup Ever will find themselves trying to score runs against not one, but two wrist spinners. It’s hard to imagine this working out well for them. (Particularly if Jasprit Bumrah has already made what we feel duty-bound to refer to as ‘early inroads’.)
England’s greatest attribute as a one-day side is ambition. On pitches where the only real impediment to run-scoring is yourself, they set loftier goals than their opponents and generally win. When others would make 330, they make 350 and when others would make 350, they make 370.
That’s where they most obviously have an edge; at that end of the spectrum. That’s how the team’s put together. On average pitches, they don’t win a great deal more than they lose, while according to CricViz data, they’re actually fairly poor on slow pitches.
The big score matches are so eye-catching, it’s created an illusion that they’re the norm. But they’re not. They just create more media noise.
Last year, when England’s run-rate peaked with 481-6 against Australia, the series also featured winning totals of 218-7 and 208-9. The three matches against India that followed saw just one score over 300.
Ambition has been an almost irrelevant quality so far in this World Cup. This has brought England back to the pack and so fourth, fifth or sixth in the table is probably about right.
A quality that’s of growing importance as the tournament wears on is the ability to make the best of things when you’re under a bit of pressure. We’re quite excited to find out whether our reflexive England Batsmen v Wrist Spin fears are justified.
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