If ever there was an award for the most entertaining team of the World Cup, England would have won it hands down. Six thrilling games out of six is more than that one could ask for and England have come out of the league stage scarred and bruised. But most importantly they survived! Unfortunately there is no such award and England need to win three more games if they are to live their dream of winning the World Cup.
England’s problem have neither been their batting (they scored 329 against Ireland and chased 337 against India) nor their bowling (they successfully defended 170 against South Africa and 243 against West Indies). Their problem has been the inconsistency – the failure of the batting and bowling to click in the same match. The injuries to key players continued to haunt them during the tournament. After they lost Eoin Morgan, their best player for the last couple of years, Kevin Pietersen was ruled out after two games due to a recurring hernia injury. Stuart Broad, who was the most influential in their victory over South Africa, was then ruled out. Pietersen was replaced by Morgan himself but that left a hole at the top of the order. Prior, who has been asked to open the innings in the absence of Pietersen, has managed only 36 runs in his two innings and has looked out of sorts.
The positives for England have been that every player has chipped in their bit in contributing to the victories. Ravi Bopara struck a match winning 60 against the Proteas and his gentle medium pace played a crucial role in restricting the West Indies. Strauss has been magnificent throughout the tournament while Trott, the most consistent. Bell has wasted good starts quite consistently and England will need their No. 4 to score more than 30 odd if they are to progress further in the tournament. Broad’s replacement Chris Tremlett was taken to the cleaners by Chris Gayle but he contributed in his own way – by pulling off a wonderful catch to dismiss the No.10 Roach! James Tredwell picked up the Man of the Match in his only game against the West Indies.
England have chopped and changed their No. 7, or allrounder as you would like to call it, more often than the UDRS changes the umpire’s decision. After Michael Yardy had a good game with the ball against India, he struggled to keep his form going against South Africa. They picked up Luke Wright for his first game against the West Indies and he contributed with an useful 44.
The form of Collingwood, who will retire at the end of the tournament, is another cause for concern for the Poms. After two disastrous outings with the bat, Collingwood was dropped for the match against South Africa and then batted at No.7 against Bangladesh where he could contribute only 14. Swann and Bresnan have been England’s best bowlers while Anderson has had a nightmare of a tournament. Shehzad almost helped an England comeback against Bangladesh but a hamstring strain ruled him out for the rest of the tournament.
England have paid no respect to the rankings by beating the higher ranked teams and losing to the lower ranked ones. But they have been the life of the tournament by winning matches that they should have lost and vice versa and even if England were to get knocked out by Sri Lanka in the quarterfinal, you can be assured that they would have fought tooth and nail for every run and for every wicket till the last ball is bowled.