Not too long ago, teams around the world would wait for an ODI series against England as it would be their best chance to win an ODI series, England, unfortunately, were doing not-so-well in the shorter version of the game and chips were down when they lost 0-5 to India in the winter of 2008. Ever since the inception of World Cup Cricket tournaments in 1975, for 35 years England failed to grab even one of them, in-spite of making to the finals of quite a few. 2004 Champions trophy was the closest they ever got of sensing a victory in the finals of a world cup, only to see 9th West-Indian pair to steal an improbable win from the jaws of the defeat.
It all changed, come May 2010, in the Caribbean land during the T20 World cup, when England stunned the whole cricketing fraternity with a surprise victory of the tournament. The inventors the shortest format of the game had finally gotten their arms around the coveted world T20 trophy. England had flashes of success in the last 5 years, like the Ashes (2005, 2009) and CB Series win (2007), but T20 WC win, sure was a crowning glory moment for them. The team has gone through a lot of change in this decade. Changes in leadership, departures of some of the stars like Vaughan and Flintoff, arrival Kevin Peterson, new talents like Broad, Swann, and the young Irishman EJG Morgan, it all has happened over the past 3-4 years.
Andrew Strauss has turned out to be a one heck of leader. For someone who struggled to maintain his place in the squad, just a couple of years back, to astutely lead the side to great achievements, speaks volumes. Paul Collingwood did wonders as the T20 leader and most importantly the team looks like a well gelled unit after a long time. They have depth in seam bowling options with Anderson, Onion, Broad, and Sidebottom. The spin talent of Swann and Yardy has even put, a one time favorite Monty Panesar to the sidelines. The batting has a new perspective and depth with Strauss finding his grove, Cook finally justifying his talent, KP’s aggression at #3, Collingwood’s solidity in the middle order along with experienced Trott and Bell. This barmy army is surely becoming a threatening unit and a team to watch out for, come WC 2011.
This English team has achieved a unique feat starting last summer (’09). They have beaten the World’s #1 team – Australia, in All 3 formats of the game in less than 12 months: Ashes 2009 at home, T20 World cup final in West-Indies, and Natewst Series 3-2 win at home. Beating the mighty kangaroos once can be called as a stroke of luck, however, beating them in all formats, in consecutive meetings, in less than 12 months time span is no joke. Apart from winning, they have shown a different approach to T20 cricket, that can lead you to success. England pretty much had only one explosive batsman – KP, in their squad, they never really tried to hit every ball out of the park, during T20 World Cup, yet achieved tremendous success with some common-sense cricket.
With Talent like Mike Yardy, Ravi Bopara, Luke Wright, and Tim Brensan in the reserve, they are very much the able contenders for the World Cup in Spring of 2011. The recent wins in the shorter form of the game must have been morale boosting for the team. With just the right mix of aggression, common-sense, tactical moves, this Barmy army cam very well get closer to conquering the most coveted one day cricket honor that exists out there.
-Nikhil Sharad Jadhav