LONDON, (Reuters) – England have never won a global 50-over tournament but they will not get a better chance to end their long wait than in this year’s Champions Trophy on home soil.
Eoin Morgan’s team have been transformed since their dismal World Cup performance two years ago, playing a vibrant and aggressive brand of cricket that should make them formidable in their own conditions.
Eight successive one-day victories preceded the seven-wicket loss to top-ranked South Africa on Monday in a dead game with the series in the bag but coach Trevor Bayliss remained confident about his team’s chances.
“This result ensures we go into the Champions Trophy without big heads,” Bayliss said.
“We should have done better than we did but a 2-1 series win over South Africa, we’ll take that every day.”
England’s only global one-day title came at the World Twenty20 in 2010 and they lost the 2013 Champions Trophy final to India at Edgbaston in a game reduced to 20 overs per side.
With a powerful batting lineup, including pugnacious openers Jason Roy and Alex Hales, test captain Joe Root, Morgan, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, England usually score their runs rapidly.
Captain Morgan’s team racked up totals of 339 and 330 to win the first two matches of the series against South Africa before slumping to 20 for six in tough conditions on the way to defeat at Lord’s.
“We have put in a lot this series but this was a hiccup,” Morgan said.
“It’s a lesson with the bat and ball – our bowlers to be disciplined and to our batsman that, sometimes, you have to sit in,” Morgan said.
“They made us play a hell of a lot and managed to get the ball moving around. Certainly, it’s not down to a lack of trying.”
England face Bangladesh in the opening Champions Trophy group game on Thursday before meeting New Zealand and Australia.
India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa are in the other section, with the top two sides from each group progressing to the semi-finals.
Holders India and Australia, twice Champions Trophy winners, are among the favourites, along with South Africa who won the inaugural tournament in 1998.
“The four really strong squads are England, defending champions India and perennial competitors Australia and South Africa,” former Australia captain Ian Chappell told Cricinfo.
“Ever since hitting rock bottom with an early exit from the 2015 World Cup, England’s 50-over cricket has been on an upward trend. They appear to be peaking perfectly for this tournament.”