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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

ICC Champions Trophy 2017: England aim to end major tournament hoodoo

Eoin Morgan-led England cricket team can justify their tag as favourites by claiming a first major 50-over title in ICC Champions Trophy 2017

icc-champions-trophy-2017 Updated: May 31, 2017 18:45 IST
The England cricket team for ICC Champions Trophy 2017 poses for a picture at The Oval on Wednesday.
The England cricket team for ICC Champions Trophy 2017 poses for a picture at The Oval on Wednesday.(REUTERS)

England have endured plenty of limited-over anguish in major tournaments over the years, but they have a golden opportunity to claim a first ICC Champions Trophy title on home soil.

Just over two years ago England suffered the embarrassment of crashing out of the World Cup without getting out of their group after losing to Bangladesh at the Adelaide Oval.

Peter Moores was sacked as head coach soon after and the appointment of Trevor Bayliss has transformed England’s fortunes in white-ball cricket, so much so that they will start the Champions Trophy among the favourites.

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Bayliss has given an exciting crop of players a licence to express themselves, honing their undoubted natural talents to make England a force to be reckoned with.

Eoin Morgan’s Twenty20 side looked set to be crowned World Twenty20 champions in India last year before Carlos Brathwaite’s dramatic blitz in the final over from Ben Stokes gave West Indies a sensational victory in Kolkata.

The vast majority of the side which suffered the agony of that loss at Eden Gardens will get the chance to banish those painful memories by inspiring the hosts to Champions Trophy glory.

And they are more than capable of achieving that goal given the ability they have at their disposal, combined with a hunger fuelled by coming so close to a triumph on the big stage in the shortest form in India.

In Morgan, they have a leader who now has plenty of experience under his belt and the skipper’s positivity is clearly rubbing off on his team-mates.

“I firmly believe this is the most talented group of players I’ve ever played with. I’ve been fortunate to play with some fantastic cricketers over the years,” Morgan said ahead of the ongoing one-day international series against South Africa.

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Morgan can lead by example, having blasted a brutal 107 from only 92 balls in a resounding 72-run victory in the first game of the series with the Proteas at Headingley on Wednesday.

Stokes helped clinch victory by smashing just his second ODI hundred in Southampton, but England will head into the Champions Trophy on the back of a seven-wicket thumping after a woeful performance on Monday saw them at 20-6 before being skittled for 153.

England used to be short of firepower at the top of the order, but, despite a poor showing in the third match against South Africa at Lord’s, destructive openers Alex Hales and Jason Roy are able to set the tone.

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Classy Test captain Joe Root has the skill to adapt his game to all formats, while Stokes and Jos Buttler are two of the most exciting players to watch in full flow.

The same can be said of Moeen Ali, who can also be a match-winner with bat and ball and Chris Woakes is another all-rounder who has come to the fore in both red and white-ball cricket.

Mark Wood’s return is another tonic for England and spinner Adil Rashid can have a big say over whether they can win the Champions Trophy.

The fact that the prolific Jonny Bairstow is not a first choice in the ODI side would indicate that the time is now for England to claim an elusive maiden major 50-over title.

First Published: May 31, 2017 16:58 IST