As the crucial Day 2 of the third Test unrolled, England’s batting woes were once again exposed by a potent Australian attack.
Hosts England made as many as three changes to their provisional list of 15 players to reveal their final team this week.
The hosts indeed look good. After my SWOT analysis of the Indian and Australian teams identifying their internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats, here is my SWOT analysis of the hosts.
Let’s take a look at the English team.
The batsmen are Eoin Morgan (captain), Joe Root, Jason Roy and James Vince, who came in for Alex Hales after he failed two tests for recreational drugs.
The batsmen-wicketkeepers are Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow, while England have two batting all-rounders in Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes.
They have four bowling all-rounders in Chris Woakes, Liam Dawson, Jofra Archer and Tom Curran. Joe Denly made way for Dawson, while Archer came in for David Willey, who will certainly feel unlucky.
The specialist bowlers are Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood as the front-line quicks while Adil Rashid will handle the spin, along with batsman-spinner Moeen.
Lets run the SWOT analysis.
Nothing succeeds like success and England – the No.1 ODI side in the world who have won 11 bilateral series in a row – are certainly pre-tournament favorites.
Their batting firepower is astonishing. They have the ability to chase 350 comfortably, and if they bat first, they are confident of out-batting the opposition.
They have several bowlers who can bowl at 90 miles per hour, and they have two handy spinners in Moeen and Rashid, as they proved by taking a dozen wickets each in the 5-0 demolition of Australia.
There’s no perceptible weakness, as such, with a batting line-up that goes right down to Curran, who may come in at ten.
The only thing is that England have never won the World Cup so far, and in crucial knock-out games like the semi-final or final, they possibly may falter. At least that’s what opponents will be hoping for.
Mark Wood, their spearhead, is a bit injury-prone, which could be a worry.
Once again, no perceptible external opportunities for opponents to exploit.
They will only hope that stroke-makers will self-destruct, or T20 marvel Jofra Archer – with only three ODI appearances to his name – will be inexperienced for the World Cup.
Maybe the bowling attack can be exploited, as was done recently in West Indies, especially by “Universe Boss” Chris Gayle.
The only possible threat could be the burden of over-expectations.
England are certainly favorites, but in a multi-lateral tournament with knock-out games in the semi-final and final, funny things have been known to happen.
Other teams will be also ready to move in for the kill, and at that stage, any of the four semi-finalists can be eventual champions. And in all likelihood, the team that holds their nerves better will come up trumps.
All said and done, however, I feel England will be the third host team in a row to lift the World Cup.