England team are looked at as the firm favorites to win the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 which will be hosted by them in their own backyard after 20 long years. In fact, there are good reasons why they can win their maiden World Cup this time around.
Coming into the quadrennial event, the Eoin Morgan-led team are the world's top-ranked ODI side and they have not lost a bilateral ODI series at home since 2015. After their first-round exit from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, the English team have only lost just one bilateral series in the last four years. Their solitary loss came at the hands of reigning ODI World Champions Australia back in 2015 by a close margin of 3-2. Since then, England have worked very well on their 50-over format, which has helped them in establishing themselves as a strong team at home. They then went on to register some famous home wins against Pakistan, South Africa and India. The 3-2 win against India was a special one as they came back in the next two One-Day matches after being completely outclassed in the first ODI.
Now let us focus on England's performance in World Cups. England had hosted the first three editions of the World Cup (1975, 1979 & 1983). They were very successful in the first five editions where they reached the semifinals on all five occasions including three final appearances in 1979, 1987 and 1992. While they hardly stood any chance against the mighty West Indies in 1979, they had a good chance to capture the Cup in 1987. Chasing a target of 254 against Allan Border's Australia at the Eden Gardens, England were on their way to their maiden world title. However, just when things looked in control, the English captain Graham Gooch played an infamous reverse sweep which led to his downfall. It went on to be the turning point of the match as Australia won by seven runs in a closely-fought encounter. After their loss in the summit clash of 1992 against Pakistan, England have never made it to the last four in the showpiece event.
England were knocked out in the 1996 World Cup quarterfinals by the eventual winners Sri Lanka. They then failed to progress beyond the group stages in the next two editions in 1999 and 2003. They did not have a good campaign in 2007 either where their campaign ended in the Super 8. Under the leadership of Andrew Strauss, the team were looking good in the group stages before they ran into a resurgent Sri Lankan team who halted their progress in that tournament as well.
Let us now focus on why it is the case of 'So near yet so far' when England are on the verge of pulling something special during multi-nation tournaments. It all started way back in the ICC Champions Trophy which they had hosted in 2004. After an easy semi-final win against the then mighty Australians, Michael Vaughan's team took on Brian Lara's West Indies in the final. They put up a disappointing performance with the bat and were bowled out for 217 without even completing their full quota of 50 overs. However, they made amends with the ball as West Indian innings was falling apart. The hosts were in complete control after Shivnarine Chanderpaul fell and West Indies were reduced to 147/8. Nonetheless, they failed to capitalise on it as a 71-run stand between Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw helped Lara's men get over the line.
Nine years later, they would once again be in a similar position against India in the Champions Trophy final at home only to let it slip away. Chasing a target of 130 in the rain-curtailed 20-over match, England were cruising towards an easy win. However, wickets of Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara and a middle-order collapse saw them lose their way by six runs.