The English cricket team is on fire right now. Their batting unit, in particular, has been striking a lot of fear in the hearts of the bowlers all around the globe. They have devastating power and depth in their batting line-up and are capable of putting up huge scores on the board. Combined with flat nature of wickets which have become a trend in world cricket these days, England have been rightfully instilled as the heavy favourites heading into the 2019 World Cup back in their own yard.
As much as their batting department has garnered universal acclaim, the bowling unit still remains a big concern for the English team management. There is a worry about the lack of variation and penetration which they possess, with many of their pacers bowling at a similar speed, as well as hitting the same areas of the pitch. This has been heavily exposed in their past two series’ when they toured away to the West Indies and as they are hosting Pakistan at home.
The last two ODIs against Pakistan has exposed the chinks in the armour of the bowling unit, with the English bowlers being taken to the cleaners. Pakistan are by no means, the strongest batting side in the world and there has been heavy criticism of the lack of power hitters in their side. Yet, they have managed to post scores of over 350 in two of the three matches.
In Southampton, during the second ODI of the series, Pakistan almost pulled off the biggest run-chase in their history, scoring 361 runs in their chase of 374. Again in Bristol, batting first, the Men in Green posted a big score of 358/9 on the board. On both occasions, it was the brilliance of England’s batting which bailed them out.
A similar trend was observed in England’s tour of West Indies, where Gayle and co took the English bowling unit to the cleaners in a couple of games. In the first ODI of the series, West Indies managed to put up a score of 360/8 on the board. English bowlers were again hit out of the park in the fourth match of the series, as even a target of over 400 did not appear safe for large parts of the game. Chasing a target of 419, West Indies managed to put up a score of 389.
In the last 8 ODIs which England have played, their bowling unit has managed to concede a score of more than 350 four times. Heading into the World Cup, this will be a big concern for captain Eoin Morgan, coach Trevor Bayliss and the rest of the team management.
The current crop
Chris Woakes, David Willey, Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood have generally been the pacers who have played the bulk of England’s matches. They have been backed up by Tom Curran, who is also a part of the 15-man England squad. Their spin department has been led by Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali. They have been supported by all-rounder Ben Stokes and Joe Root has also rolled his arms around on a few occasions to make up the overs.
The case for Jofra Archer
The current crop of bowlers have failed to inspire much confidence in their ability to deliver consistent breakthroughs and have been expensive in many matches. This has only led to a growing clamour to include Jofra Archer in the squad. The pacer is now eligible to play for England and made his home debut for England in the first match of the series against Pakistan at the Oval. He looked exceptional, with his pace, bounce and accuracy troubling the Pakistani batters. Many believe that England lacks an X-factor in their bowling unit and the inclusion of Archer would give them a genuine strike bowler. On quality alone, Archer would walk into the current playing XI of the team.
Good enough to win the World Cup?
Teams facing England at the World Cup will not show any mercy to the bowlers when the tournament comes rolling around. The likes of India and Australia have genuine quality in both their batting and bowling departments to give the current English side a run for their money. South Africa and West Indies also possess a few dangerous players in their ranks who could trouble this side. If the bowling department does not pick up their performances soon, the batters won’t always bail them out. The batting unit is also bound to fail sometime soon and it remains to be seen whether the English bowlers have the ability to pick up the slack.