This year has the potential to be big for English cricket. I think we’ve got the best opportunity of lifting the sport’s greatest one-day prize for 23 years. And then there’s the Ashes.
Despite my optimism, however, I do have a few slight reservations. I have been wrestling with a few questions. Will we be brave enough to go out with aggression? What style of cricket are we going to play, are we going to express ourselves?
Will we be bold enough to change gears with the batting order when required? I know that’s one way England can definitely improve.
[pullquote]This year’s crop has a chance because I see similarities with 92. We have a perfect blend of youth and experience, we have all-rounders, we have flair.[/pullquote]Are we going to be flexible with our batting and bowling if the situation dictates? Flexibility is vital for success – you need to be able to adapt to the game.
Are we going to be versatile with the death bowlers? Will Morgan have the gumption to deliver a surprise package, the ability to lead with gut instinct, go against conventions, go against any coaching direction?
I have played in three Cricket World Cups. In the 92 Cricket World final where I was part of a perfectly-balanced team packed with all-rounders, including myself, Botham, Lewis, Pringle and Illingworth, Hicky, Stewart alongside Gooch and Lamby and Neil Fairbrother.
We just fell short of glory that year against a strong Pakistani team – including names such as Wasim Akram, Imran Khan and Inzamam-ul-Haq – and we haven’t been able to fulfil our promise in international, 50-over cricket ever since.
Maybe that’s because we’ve focused too much on Test cricket especially on the back of the 2005 Ashes triumph, or maybe because we just haven’t had the right collection of players.
One factor behind the team I had privilege to play in is that we were settled, the majority of us had played together for years. We had played a lot of one-day cricket together.
What does worry me is the fact that up until month ago on the Sri Lanka tour, we were still tinkering with the starting line up.
But despite this and the reservations I have already mentioned, this year’s crop has a chance because I see similarities with 92. We have a perfect blend of youth and experience, we have all-rounders, we have flair.
I’m excited by Jos Butler, I think this is his time, while rookies like Woakes, Finn and Taylor all have the talent to excel.
Add to this the experience of Ian Bell, who should, and can, bat for 50 overs, and that of Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara, and I believe we have a team with the opportunity to go one better than we did in 1992.