In the 2015 World Cup, the England-Bangladesh group game was a virtual pre-quarterfinal. The winner of the game was to be rewarded with a place in the knock out phase in a tournament where the top 8 sides, if they played to their potential, were guaranteed a spot in the next stage. But Bangladesh managed to go past England to secure the spot. The loss, which was 2nd against Bangladesh in World Cups in the 2010s, forced England to review its world cup game.
Traditionally, England is a team that is more focused on test cricket. With only a handful of nations playing competitive cricket, England did not have to work hard to secure a spot in knockouts at the limited overs world events. It made the knock out stage in the first four world cups, playing the final in two of those four events. The 90s saw the emergence of Sri Lanka as a limited overs powerhouse, while South Africa returned to international cricket. The competitive landscape in limited overs had changed. In world events, the acceptable metric is to reach the last four. Since 1992, England has not been in the last four of the ODI World Cups. However, it should be noted that among the failures in ODI World Cups, England has won the T20 World Cup and reached the final of Champions Trophy in 2004.
In 2015, the think tanks in England sat down to redraw boundaries by thinking outside the box with the goal to win the 2019 World Cup which was to be played at home. The 2010s have seen the host countries triumph. India beat the co-host Sri Lanka in 2011 final, and Australia achieved a similar feat by beating co-host New Zealand in 2015. The 2011 and 2015 finals were played in India and Australia respectively. If the trend of home teams winning the world cup in this decade is to continue, England would have a great chance in 2019 if it is able to put together a team that can play competitive cricket.
In the past, England rewarded players with good performances in tests with a place in white ball cricket. Now it would need to shift its focus to ODI specialists. Among other concerns, chasing totals has been an Achilles heel. It lost three finals (1979, 1987, and 1992) while batting second. England also lacks All-Time-Great (ATG) level bowlers such as McGrath and Warne.
As saying goes – If you are average, you get bad results. If you are good, you get average results. If you are great, you get good results. To get great results, you have to be excellent. While England had good bowlers, it had the opportunity to develop some excellent batsmen and all-rounders. The strategy moving forward was to concentrate on the strengths to turn the ODI team into a batting powerhouse to cover for both the lack of ATG level bowlers and account for the past failures to chase down totals. Over the last four years, England put together a team that can not only put mammoth totals on board but also pursue big totals.
To develop into a batting powerhouse, England has also thrown convention out of the window. Its batsmen have revitalized cricket by playing a brand of fearless cricket. Traditionally, a wicket lost puts pressure on the batting side. By developing batting depth, England has taken that concern out of equation relatively. For example, if the top 4 batsmen fail, the opposition would need to deal with the dangerous Jos Buttler, along with a lower order that can strike big hits in at will. While the bowling is relatively weak, it is still competitive. To illustrate, players like Jofra Archer are drafted to give the attack wicket taking abilities. Bowlers like Liam Plunkett are known to create wicket-taking opportunities in the middle overs.
Today (June 8th, 2019), England played its group game against Bangladesh, which was seeking to complete the hat-trick of wins in ODI World Cups against England. In its last game, England narrowly lost to the underdog Pakistan, chasing the mammoth 348. The silver lining in that loss is that not many teams would have gotten this close to such a mammoth total. The loss also highlighted the need to sharpen up the fielding. In today’s game, England needed to bounce back from that narrow loss to take on an improved Bangladesh, which has enjoyed success against it lately in such events. Having put into bat first, England scored 386 and went on to beat Bangladesh by 106 runs. With this win, England has not only bounced back from the loss in the last game but also gone past its nemesis in World Cups this decade. England has shown the ability to learn from its mistakes and improve its game. This success and approach probably point towards the rise of "New" England in ODIs.
While England can claim to be the strongest side in this world cup, it needs to be aware that the strongest teams do not always win the tournament. Examples of failures to get past the hurdles include West Indies in 1983 and England itself in 1987 and 1992. New Zealand played the best cricket in 1992 but failed to lift the trophy. South Africa too appeared unstoppable in 1999. In this world cup, England has cards staked in its favor. To win, England should continue to trust its game, play fearlessly, and more importantly enjoy its cricket. If it is able to achieve that it is difficult to see England not being crowned as the 2019 world champion.