Ahead of the World Cup, and with England having only a maximum of 2 ODI’s to play before their opener against Australia on February 14th, I thought now was the ideal time to take a statistical look at their chances.
There are many ways to approach this task; you can look into England’s historical record in World Cups, players individual world cup performances etc.
But I have chosen to look at the 15 men who will be representing England and see if we can glean any nuggets of what we can expect from this side over the next couple of months. More specifically I have decided to take a look at their records in the conditions in which the World Cup will be played – in Australia and New Zealand.
So with many thanks to Cricinfo’s comprehensive statistics database, I welcome you to take a look at my findings.
The first thing that struck me when looking at ODI stats for the England World Cup squad, filtering it down to those games only played in New Zealand and Australia, was the relative experience of the team. While England only have the 8th most experienced squad at the tournament when considering all venues, they have the experience of 156 combined ODI’s on antipodean soil to fall back on. At first, this seemed like a surprisingly high number, but then I though back to the numerous tri-series that England are often involved in, or even the more recent 7-match series. These long series coupled alongside the regularity with which England make the trip down under, helps to explain the level of experience. In this case, this England squad is not as inexperienced at is may appear. Indeed, Ian Bell and James Anderson have played 60 ODI’s in Aus and NZ combined between them.
Turning our attention towards the batsman, it is easy to see where England’s primary batting experience will stem from. Bell is a veteran of 33 ODI’s down under and has an average in the mid-30’s, while this is not hugely impressive, his game is ideally suited to countering Australian conditions. Bell’s record down under is remarkably similar to his overall record, but as his recent hundred shows, he is in prime form, and his combination of form and experience should lead to him standing tall at the World Cup.
Of the current squad, Joe Root boasts the best batting average, scoring 4 fifties in his 8 knocks in Aus and NZ. While he is relatively inexperienced in these conditions, he has now played 46 ODI’s across the world, and can be expected to be a mainstay of England’s WC batting line-up.
If England were looking for a batsman who can provide impetus to their batting line-up, the statistics say that they can find it in their wicketkeeper batsmen –Jos Buttler. The Lancashire batsman has scored 240 runs at WC grounds, ticking along at a strike rate of over 108.
When we look at the bowling, England are again surprisingly blessed with experience in the conditions, having selected 4 of their most successful six bowlers in Aus and NZ during the last 15 years. As expected, James Anderson stands head and shoulders above the rest, with 43 scalps at an average of 28. It is worth noting however, that he also leaks over 5.2 an over and has not always had fond memories of bowling in Australia.
I would say that the biggest surprise amongst the bowling options, is that England’s second highest wicket-taker in Aus and NZ in this squad, is Chris Woakes. The Warwickshire man has been around the team for a while now, but it is not until the last six months when has finally nailed down his spot in the final XI. His record of 19 wickets in just 9 matches should stand him in good stead for the World Cup.
Conversely, Stuart Broad has a pretty appalling record for a bowler of his quality. His 17 wickets are spread across 14 games and come at an average of nearly 40. It is perhaps his place, which is most under threat if England renegade on their plan of 4 quick bowlers.
Which brings me to my final point, the role that a spinner could play for England. James Tredwell is the only frontline spinner in the 15-man squad, but his record is poor to say the least. The Kent tweaker has sent down 29 overs across 4 games but is yet to take a wicket. It is perhaps Tredwell’s poor record in Aus and NZ, not necessarily conditions, that is keeping him out of the final XI. Moeen Ali has filled in admirably so far, taking 4 wickets at 31.5 in his three games in this winter’s tri-series. But, the spinner’s role has always been a difficult role in ODI’s in Aus and NZ. Graeme Swann, possibly the finest spinner of his generation, could only muster 4 wickets in his 6 matches in Australia and New Zealand.
For England to have a successful World Cup they are going to need to draw on their wealth of experience in the conditions, as well as looking towards their senior players for big performances. The statistics also suggest they will have a strong reliance on their pace quartet of Anderson, Woakes, Finn and Broad. If these four can fire then England have every chance of progressing a decent way. What statistics can’t tell us of course, is how these players will cope with the pressure situations that a World Cup throws up so frequently.