Cricket-England batting power gives them fighting chance

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Third One Day International - England v New Zealand - The Oval, London, Britain - September 13, 2023 England's Ben Stokes in action Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - England head into the defence of their World Cup title short of ODI practice but unconcerned as they will approach the 50-overs format in the same way they have tests and T20s - with total commitment to attack and confidence in success.

While there might be tactical tweaks, and the presence of a "rock" in the shape of Dawid Malan gives a semblance of stability, "Bazball" will still be in the air and captain Jos Buttler and coach Matthew Mott will give the team absolute licence to attack.

Mott also brings World Cup-winning experience from his time in Australia and overseeing England's World T20 triumph last year.

Nothing is ever likely to match the drama of England's 2019 final victory over New Zealand but in Ben Stokes, who came out of ODI retirement in August, they retain arguably the biggest draw in the sport.

Stokes warmed up with an England record 182 off 124 balls in a thrashing of New Zealand last month and has the ability to take command of a game from any situation.

Similarly impressive in that series was Malan, who has spent much of his career being told he does not score quickly enough.

The 36-year-old was named Player of the Series after knocks of 54, 96 and 127 and looks set to open with Jonny Bairstow.

"It’s satisfying from my point of view to be able to silence some people who always have some negative things to say, but my job is to score runs," Malan said.

Part of that noise was the pressure to include young star Harry Brook, who was initially overlooked, but in the end it was Jason Roy who had to make way.


Brook has limited ODI experience and hardly sparkled in the recent New Zealand series but the selectors decided he was a talent just too good to leave behind.

Jos Buttler has replaced Eoin Morgan as captain and is likely to spend plenty of time in the middle alongside Joe Root, who also struggled against New Zealand but remains a calming influence and averages almost 49 from his 151 innings.

The stop-start nature of international cricket and the shunting aside of the 50-over format means the England team are far from a settled unit in the format.

Bairstow, however, said they were not overly concerned about a lack of cohesion.

"I don’t think that’s too much of a worry when the group has played together for, what, seven or eight years?" he said. "It’s one of those where you just slot back into your roles."

Although there is no questioning the depth of England's batting, their white-ball bowling has looked patchy, particularly among the seamers.

Despite the class and control of leg-spinner Adil Rashid and the experience of Moeen Ali, much could depend on the reliability of spin bowling all-rounder Liam Livingstone as England could struggle to contain teams on Indian wickets.

England like to chase a target and they might have big ones to hunt down if they are to join West Indies and Australia as the only teams to retain the title.

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ed Osmond)

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