How England transformed their one-day game in four years

As captain Eoin Morgan pointed out in the wake of Thursday's demolition of Australia, the prospect of England making a World Cup final would have been truly laughable four years ago.
Back then, England were the punchline of all jokes, a bunch of no-hopers who'd been comprehensively eclipsed by just about every other cricketing nation on the planet.
At the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand
, they failed to even make it out of the group stage. They lost brutally to Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, travelling home early.
Against New Zealand, they were skittled for a paltry 123, a target that was knocked off in a mere 12.2 overs. They allowed Sri Lanka to chase down an apparently daunting target of 310 for the loss of just one wicket.
In a tournament that was pretty much designed for all the top nations to make the quarter-finals, woeful England could only manage to beat Scotland and Afghanistan.
It was an all-time nadir in English one-day cricket and a chance to press the reset button. Luckily, they did and now the whole nation is enjoying the achievements of a team transformed.
As England prepare to face New Zealand in Sunday's World Cup final at Lord's, we take a look at a timeline of their journey from laughing stock to potential champions.
 
December 2014 - Morgan is appointed captain
England were asking for trouble when they made the decision to remove Alastair Cook as their one-day captain and replace him with Morgan just two months before the World Cup.
Results, however, had been poor for some time. England had lost home series against Sri Lanka and India in the summer of 2014, then lost five times to the Sri Lankans that winter.
Cook was axed on December 19, leaving Morgan barely any time to prepare for the intensity of a World Cup tournament. It's little wonder they crumbled.
But in the long-term, appointing this steely Dubliner to lead England's one-day revolution was an inspired choice. Likewise the call to stick with him after the World Cup failure.
It is Morgan who has led by example as England devised a blueprint of ultra-aggressive cricket to ensure they were never humiliated in such a manner again.
 
May 2015 - Trevor Bayliss comes in as coach
The first act of Andrew Strauss when appointed England's director of cricket in May 2015 was to sack coach Peter Moores and bring in Australian Bayliss.
With a view to a home World Cup tournament in 2019, Strauss decided there would be more emphasis on the one-day format and redress the traditional imbalance towards Test cricket.
It was a belated acknowledgement that the sport was changing and that England had been left behind.
With the advent of Twenty20 and the runaway success of the Indian Premier League, batsmen were going bigger and bigger. England's belief that 250-280 was a winning score in one-day games was outmoded.
Led by Bayliss and Morgan, they encouraged batsmen to not retreat into their shells when under pressure and play more shots to express themselves.
Morgan told the BBC: 'In the 2015 World Cup, there was a drastic change in the move towards higher scores. Scores moved from 300 to 330 on average and that meant you had to change everyone's default mode.'
It also helped that Strauss allowed England's players to go off and play in the IPL and Australia's Big Bash so they felt more comfortable with the kind of game plan England were now using.
 
2015 - Immediate signs of progress against New Zealand
This had a liberating effect on England's players and there were signs of improvement straight away as England won their first post-World Cup series at home to New Zealand.
In the first ODI at Edgbaston, Jos Buttler smashed a personal high of 129 and Joe Root scored 104 as England posted 408 for nine - it was the first time an England side had surpassed the 400 mark.
They also posted scores of 365, 302 and 350 in wining the series and the green shoots of recovery were apparent. They had also taken New Zealand on at their own game - and beaten them.
As well as instigating a shift in mentality, Bayliss ruthlessly made changes to the personnel. The likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad were superb in Test cricket, but less well-suited to the ODI format.
Likewise more conservative batsmen such as Gary Ballance and Ian Bell, who'd been part of the World Cup squad.
In came the more explosive Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow, as well as bowlers such as Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid.
After beating New Zealand, England lost a late summer series to Australia. It remains the last time England lost a bilateral one-day series on home soil.
 
2016 - New world record
Look at the England side for the home series with Pakistan in 2016 and it really starts to appear familiar.
A top order of Roy, Hales, Root, Buttler, Morgan and Ben Stokes with a bowling unit of Plunkett, Rashid, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood.
With the team settled, England thrashed Pakistan 4-1 in the series and were starting to pick up some valuable momentum.
The highlight came at Trent Bridge when Hales demolished the Pakistan bowlers, scoring 171 off 122 balls as England established a new world record score of 444 in 50 overs of absolute carnage.
The masterplan was right on track.
 
2017 - Champions Trophy setback
A useful yardstick of England's one-day revolution would come with a home Champions Trophy in the summer of 2017.
Morgan's side were in excellent form and romped through the group phase with wins over Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia.
But they came unstuck in the semi-final against Pakistan in Cardiff, failing to adapt to a slow pitch and perhaps believing their own hype a little too much.
An eight-wicket defeat, having been bowled out for just 211, sent them crashing back down to earth.
However, as this World Cup has shown, it would prove a useful lesson in how to handle the crushing pressure of tournament cricket.
 
September 2017 - The Stokes and Hales incident
Hours before England were due to play West Indies in an ODI at Bristol, news broke that two of their key players, Stokes and Hales, had been involved in an altercation outside a nightclub in the early hours of the morning.
Stokes missed England's Ashes tour of Australia that winter as a result, while Hales was banned for six matches but still went on the tour Down Under.
Both players would ultimately return to the side but it was an unwanted distraction at a time when major progress was being made.
For Stokes, it proved a watershed moment in his career. His maturity both on and off the field since then has made him England's talisman.  
 
2018 - Smashing the Aussies (twice)
England were smashed 4-0 in the Ashes but it was a very different story when they met afterwards in the one-day series.
Any series against Australia is generally the litmus test for the abilities of an England team and this 4-1 triumph confirmed Morgan's side had what it takes to compete - and win - in the most hostile of environments.
The quality of Australia's bowling and the conditions prevented a repeat of the enormous scores previously seen but England successfully found ways to win in often tight games.
England had also become adept at chasing down targets, something that would become a real strength. In the first ODI at the MCG, they successfully chased down Australia's 304 with seven balls to spare.
Things were even better when Australia came to England for a five-match series in the summer of 2018.
England passed 300 three times in a 5-0 series whitewash with Roy, Hales and Buttler, in particular, excelling. But once again it was Trent Bridge that witnessed something truly extraordinary.
In three hours of carnage that saw England's batsmen hit 21 sixes and 41 fours, they posted a new world record of 481 as Hales (147), Bairstow (139) and others flayed Australia's bowlers to all corners of the ground.
It would prove to have an enormous psychological impact on England's oldest rivals.
 
April 2019 - Handling Hales
Two days after England named their World Cup squad, news broke that Hales had failed a drugs test and banned by his county Nottinghamshire.
Despite the World Cup being just weeks away, England were ruthless and removed Hales from their squad for the tournament.
The indiscretion left them with little alternative despite Hales being one of their gun batsmen.
A new opening partnership of Roy and Bairstow was formed and they have proven to be one of England's greatest successes during the World Cup run.
 
April 2019 - Welcome Jofra
It had been clear for some time that England had a line-up that deserved to be considered World Cup favourites.
But their bowling attack was about to become even stronger with the introduction of a player who looks set to become a legend of English cricket for many years to come.
Born in Barbados but eligible for England through his father, the ECB changed their own residency rules in order to get him playing before the World Cup.
95mph bowlers in an England shirt are a rare and precious commodity and it soon became apparent that Archer would provide the X-factor needed to go all the way in the tournament.
He certainly hasn't disappointed. He has taken 17 wickets at this World Cup, with the most important being Australia's dangerous opener Aaron Finch first ball at Edgbaston on Thursday.
Comment

No comments found