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EXCLUSIVE: Monty Panesar asks: Have England got what it takes to win?


Monty Panesar
(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
Monty Panesar (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

THE World Cup begins this week and cricket fans around the world will be glued on their TV screens to hopefully witness one of the best cricketing events in England.

Britain has a rich history of hosting and organising brilliant global tournaments and I am sure this one will be another great spectacle.

Whenever it is football, rugby or the Olympics, the eyes of the world are always on the host nation. England have their work cut out; not only are they the favourites to win the World Cup but how do they handle the pressure of winning in their own home country?

Australia did it last time out and so did India in 2011, where everyone from the rickshaw driver to the prime minister knew that they were always going to triumph because winning in India is not an easy task.

England seems to put themselves under pressure in major events. In the last T20 World Cup they lost to the West Indies in India. In the Champions Trophy two years ago it was Pakistan. Their record suggests they choke under pressure during the semi-final and finals, but why is this the case?

We haven’t seen an ODI team develop bowling strategies against England to peg their score down to 250-280.1 think teams are happy to chase 300-plus but anything above 350 will be England’s game. Look at the recent series against Pakistan. I thought Pakistan played well, comfortably reaching over 300, but this has become a routine chase for the hosts.

England ‘s batting is always going to be its strength. This could be Jos Buttler’s tournament; the big-hitter has become one of the best ODI batsmen in world cricket.

On the negative side, other teams could take a liking to England’s bowling when the ball is swinging.

They also seem to crumble and get blown away from out of nowhere and bowled out for 150.

India will be relying heavily on Virat Kohli. He seems to be the superstar who loves taking on the responsibility and carrying the whole team. This is what makes him one of the most marketable athletes on the planet.

India has produced a gem in Jasprit Bumrah. He is the number one bowler in the world and handles pressure really well; this was recently seen in the penultimate over in the IPL final.

The negative could be their wrist spin. It may be a spot of genius selection or alternatively, their style might not respond as well as they thought in England conditions.

Pakistan won the Champions Trophy. They seem to lack consistency, but in their recent performances against England, they illustrated the potential for more fireworks.

Sri Lanka has always had a strong team entering the World Cup but they seem weaker than expected. They will rely a lot on Angelo Matthew and Lasith Malinga. I don’t expect them to go far this time around, in fact, Afghanistan may end up higher than Sri Lanka in the group stages.

Bangladesh has emerging youngsters coming through. The main question is though, how will they score 300-plus runs?

MONTY’S MEMORIES: I played in the 2007 World Cup. Being on the same field as the best cricketers in the world was amazing. We didn’t get far but I remember Australia being the favourites and India and Pakistan leaving early, which was a very surprising result.

There was the unfortunate incident of Bob Woolmer passing away too, which was a very upsetting moment.

Playing in the World Cup is what every cricketer dreams of and will an amazing experience for everyone involved – and of course, everyone watching England.

My top five batsmen and bowlers I think will make an impact:

Batsmen
Iman-ul-Haq, Quinton de Kock, Chris Gayle, Jos Buttler, and Eoin Morgan.

Bowlers
Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes, Rashid Khan, Pat Cummins, and Kagiso Rabada.