Jos Buttler’s Twenty20 side may have somewhat botched their run chase against Afghanistan in their World Cup opener on Saturday but they’ll be over the moon to have the first game hoodoo off their back.
It doesn’t matter what kind of form you take with you into a World Cup; that opening match can be make or break – ask the West Indies, who lost to Scotland in their opening game before failing to qualify for the Super12 stage in Australia.
It was messy but England won, and that’s all that matters for Matthew Mott’s men in their first World Cup since a change in management and captaincy.
But tomorrow morning, at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground, England will walk out onto the pitch to play Ireland.
It is a game they should win comfortably, but the Irish represent an obstacle for England and the second favourites to lift the cup should not take their opponents from across the Irish sea for fools.
England’s best policy
I will be honest and say I don’t think I’d have picked Sam Curran in my starting team if Reece Topley were fit for the opener but the Surrey bowler has impressed me greatly.
Since September the 24-year-old has bowled 26.4 overs for 17 wickets at an average of 14.2; those statistics are superb to run with in a tournament.
He isn’t too shabby with the bat either and having him down at No8 in the order just adds to the depth England have, especially when he’s likely to stroll onto the crease after Moeen Ali has knocked it around the park.
Living in the moment
But you usually need a superstar batting performance from someone, somewhere, if you’re going to set or chase a total that doesn’t go down to the final ball – look how India captain Virat Kohli had to save his side against Pakistan.
Liam Livingstone could prove to be that player for England over the next couple of weeks.
He’s been very impressive over the last 18 months since bursting onto the global stage with his performances in The Hundred.
He can be a little bit like Jason Roy sometimes and play the wrong shot at the wrong time whilst trying to change the game but he’s someone who can swing the momentum in your favour and thrives on the entertainment of Twenty20 cricket.
Test captain Ben Stokes does this also, but his statistics suggest he may be playing the wrong shot slightly too often – he is yet to hit an T20 International half-century.
That said the Durham all-rounder brings balance to an England squad booming with talent. His fielding is some of the best in the world – freakish almost – and he can flip games on their head.
There’s something about the aura he gives off – no one is undroppable but he’s certainly harder to leave out than others.
I was out and about as India and Pakistan went toe-to-toe at the MCG on Sunday but it was the first thing I went and watched when I got home.
It’s one of, if not the, biggest rivalry in cricket and seeing 90,000 fans witness the drama was a great advert for this World Cup and the sport.
I am a big fan of the idea to bring a series between the two teams to England – it will be one almighty spectacle for cricket.