CWC 2023: England SWOT – Buttler’s men have Stokes’ fire but tackling spin remains a challenge

PTI, Sep 30, 2023, 4:03 PM IST

Source: @englandcricket / X

With Ben Stokes coming out of retirement and the 2019 title-winning core group largely intact, England will fancy a successful campaign in challenging conditions in India during the 50-over World Cup starting on October 5.

England’s squad has depth and variety but adapting to conditions would be crucial for them, and the Three Lions players will also lean on their IPL experience to tread through eight venues for their nine group stage matches.

Jos Buttler’s team will face New Zealand in Ahmedabad in the World Cup opener on October 5, but before that, they would hope to make the most of the two warm-up matches against India and Bangladesh, especially in their preparations against spin.

Here’s then a SWOT analysis of England.

Strengths: The presence of Stokes is a massive shot in the arm for them, and they also have a number of players who know how to win a global tournament, something only Australia can boast of among the competitors.

They have a long batting line-up but more than the length the fearsome ability to subjugate rivals with an aggressive approach make England stand out from the rest, a key component of their domination in white ball formats.

The addition of in-form Harry Brook in place of out-of-form Jason Roy has only added to their firepower, but they also have class in Joe Root.

Fast bowler Jofra Archer will be a reserve player but England have searing pace in Mark Wood, while leg-spinner Adil Rashid will be crucial for them on Indian pitches.

Weakness: Unlike their Indian and Australian counterparts, England have had no specific build-up to the World Cup.

A four-match ODI series against the Kiwis at home, which England won 3-1, was their most recent experience of one-day cricket while their frontline players were rested for the Ireland series.

This lack of game-time for key players could be a major deterrent for England’s ambitions, and they have also arrived only a day before their first warm-up match.

While England’s aggressive batting approach has largely won approvals, it remains to be seen how they would execute it on the surfaces that slow down as the tournament progresses.

Opportunity: The finest generation of England’s white-ball players — most of whom could be in their last 50-over WC — would not get any better opportunity than this to ‘create memories’, which is essentially the core of their ‘Bazball’ approach in Tests.

Stokes showed his intent to bring a bit of the ‘Bazball’ into one-dayers when he went ballistic with a 124-ball 182 against New Zealand.

At the same time, lesser-known young quick Gus Atkinson, Brook and Sam Curran would know it is their time to cement positions as England gradually heads towards transition.

Threat: England have played only 10 ODIs in the World Cup year, and ‘Buttler’s Buccaneer’s even with all their exceptional skills will have to counter a set of spinners, especially from Asian nations, who know how to exploit the conditions.

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