England’s World Cup cricket hero Ben Stokes has been nominated along with Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson for New Zealander of the Year.
Watching England play 50 over cricket for much of the last 20 years has been like watching your nan trying to work out how to use an iPad. For decades the English have been stuck in the past, failing to adapt to the innovations of the modern game.
At the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the English ODI team reached a new low. Humbled by New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Australia and finally Bangladesh the English crashed out of the tournament at the group stages.
Since then things have been very different as England have put together one of the most destructive sides in the world.
The host nation kicked of their ICC Champions trophy with a comfortable 8-wicket victory over Bangladesh at the Oval in south London.
Bangladesh came into the game having won 4 of their previous 7 ODIs against England and would have felt good about their chances towards the end of their innings.
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A 166-run partnership between opener Tamim Iqbal and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim had the Tigers well placed to post a total well in excess of 300. However Iqbal was caught for a sparkling 128 and Mushfiqur followed off the very next ball for 78.
Bangladesh’s eventual total of 305-6 always seemed below par but despite their new found aggression England have only chased down 300+ four times in their entire history. With the sight of 300 on the board turning legs to custard and brains into crumble.
England’s pursuit didn’t get off to a great start with Jason Roy – short of runs recently – holing out to short fine leg for just 1. However, from then on in it was plain sailing for the hosts as partnerships of 159 between Alex Hales and Joe Root and then 143 between Root and captain Eoin Morgan saw the hosts home comfortably.
Root in particular was outstanding as he combined measured accumulation with brutal aggression in a match winning 133 not out. Hales too was impressive with a typically belligerent 95 and Morgan continued his fine form with a rapid 75 off just 61 balls.
On a flat surface that was excellent for batting the Bangladesh attack looked utterly toothless in the face of England’s superb batting. In a tournament that looks set to be dominated by the bat the teams which can take wickets at crucial times will have a huge advantage. Unfortunately for the Bangladeshi’s they never looked like doing so today.
For England this was exactly the start they needed to a tournament in which they are heavily favoured. With tougher tests to come against the Aussies and New Zealand a win today was absolutely crucial.
The only negative for England was an injury to all-rounder Chris Woakes. Woakes only bowled two overs before leaving the field with a side strain. The Warwickshire all-rounder has been a key cog in the England machine and his wicket taking ability will be missed if he sits out a significant period of time.
The ICC Champions trophy continues tomorrow with Australia against New Zealand at Edgbaston.