England has the experience and bowling to defend its crown

A few of England’s big performers from the 2019 title-winning campaign — Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood and Adil Rashid — feature in this edition, and will look to recreate the magic.

September 25, 2023 12:30 am | Updated September 29, 2023 11:52 am IST

The return of the talismanic Ben Stokes augurs well for champion England at the ICC World Cup set to begin in India next in October.

The return of the talismanic Ben Stokes augurs well for champion England at the ICC World Cup set to begin in India next in October. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

England crossed the final hurdle at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 against New Zealand in one of the most exciting cricket matches in history.

A few of England’s big performers from that title-winning campaign — Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood and Adil Rashid — feature in this edition, and will look to recreate the magic. Fast bowler Jofra Archer, the side’s highest-wicket taker in 2019, misses out due to injury.

The omission of Jason Roy has taken up headlines in the build up to the World Cup. Roy, initially slotted to open the batting with Jonny Bairstow, was axed from the final squad to accommodate the form pair of Dawid Malan and Harry Brook. Roy’s case was weakened when a back spasm ruled him out of the ODIs against New Zealand earlier this month.

Bold call on Brook

Malan is likely to take on the new ball with Bairstow, while the malleable Brook will come into the middle-order. With only six ODIs under his belt, Brook may not have experience on his side, but his huge returns in Test cricket and in the Hundred prompted this bold call from the selectors.

All-rounder Ben Stokes, the ‘player-of-the-match’ in the 2019 final, came out of a hiatus to play in this mega event. Stokes had retired from ODIs in July 2022 to stay fit for Tests, but the decision was reversed when he was named in the squad to take on New Zealand. Stokes’ tremendous value was underlined when he smashed a 124-ball 182 in the third ODI.

There are concerns surrounding Root’s poor form. The batter was included in the eleven in the first ODI against Ireland last week, but his wish to get into last-minute rhythm was denied when the outing was washed out. He will now step out to bat at the World Cup hoping that class overrides form.

On paper, England boasts of a strong bowling line-up, led by pacers Mark Wood and Chris Woakes, and leg-spinner Adil Rashid. Rashid’s recent fitness issues, and Wood’s long layoff, however, has called into question their readiness to perform on the biggest stage.

In Sam Curran, Reece Topley and David Willey — all left-arm seamers — reliable back-up is at hand.

The squad: Jos Buttler (Capt.), Moeen Ali, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, David Willey, Mark Wood, and Chris Woakes.

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