It was two years ago today (July 14, 2019) when England finally had their hands on the 50-overs World Cup in a thrilling finale at the home of cricket at the Lord’s. After the match was tied, it went to the Super Over, which too was tied but England won on their boundary count which was better than the Kiwis.
The ICC World Cup had eluded England from its inception in 1975 and England had lost three times in the final - in 1979 to West Indies, in 1987 to Australia and then in 1992 when they were favorites to win it but Imran Khan’s Pakistan beat them in the final at Melbourne.
In a candid chat with me, Eoin Morgan, the skipper of England, said his team had a disastrous 2015 World Cup where they had crashed out in the league stage and how it was a challenge for him and his team to turn it around over the next four years.
Morgan first talked about how they changed the brand of cricket after the 2015 World Cup - which was more dominated by the bat when they started playing a fearless and aggressive brand of cricket. It was not reckless but controlled, where they could bridge the gap between the other teams and he credited Andrew Strauss, who was the boss of England cricket and gave him and his support staff all the freedom to express themselves on the field.
It all started with the New Zealand series at home where they first time adopted this approach and it gave them success - they got the belief and confidence to play this style of cricket and England were the only team to score 300-plus runs 24 times in that span and also recorded scores of 400 four times - which was an achievement in itself.
When the World Cup arrived in 2019 in England, they were favorites to win the title but England had their glitches and would have missed out in qualifying for the semis as they lost three games in the league stage to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia - and had to win the last two league games to qualify for the last four.
Morgan shared an important anecdote of the team meeting before the crucial game against India in which he quoted Joe root saying: “England are just four games away in winning the World Cup”.
When England reached the final, there was the word going around: “It’s Coming Home” and when I asked Morgan if that put extra pressure on his team, he admitted that it did as no England team in the last 44 years of its history, had won the finals but his team were ready to create history to win the World Cup.
He said what a grand finale it was which still gives him goosebumps. It sounded unreal that England had won it as the game had ebbed and flowed and no team looked in front and it was a final which will be remembered by fans around the world.
Well, the Euro Cup never came home this year as it went to Rome, but the ICC World Cup had finally come home for England’s fans in 2019.
- Cricket enthusiast and businessman Anis Sajan is the Vice Chairman of Danube Group