So much is made of home-ground advantage in cricket, and sport in general. This is despite the playing fields not changing that much given that at the end of the day, it is 11 v 11 battling it out on 22 yards of cricket pitch.
The difference is obviously having a home crowd spur you on, which can make an almighty difference, especially when it seems all is lost as sometimes all a team needs is a mob of 40,000 to remind them that they can still come out victorious.
The previous two World Cups are a fine example of the influence that a home crowd can have as both have been won by the hosts. India stormed to victory in 2011 in front of a frantic Mumbai crowd and Australia came out tops in March 2015 in front of a partisan crowd in Melbourne. The question now is, can England get it done in front of a patriotic crowd at Lords on the 14th of July?
Obviously, that is a question that takes a fair bit for granted, given that the Three Lions have a gauntlet to get through first, but being the best ODI side in the world, and the favourites to win the World Cup as the latest cricket tips suggest at 2/1, it isn’t hard to imagine a scenario where they reach the final and even win it.
What Trevor Bayliss will have to guard against is his team getting complacent and a bit too comfortable, given how heavily the odds are stacked in their favour. There have been many instances where a team forgets to turn up and then pays the price for their overconfidence. With so many dangerous teams taking part in the 2019 World Cup, there really can be no time for thinking anything is won at this stage.
Another concern would be that the pressure of being the hosts can often weigh a team down, especially if they get off to a slow start. It’s easy to disregard that theory by referring to the past two winners of the World Cup but then one would be forgetting England haven’t ever won a World Cup before and will be desperate to do it in front of their home fans.
Wanting something too much is a real problem in professional sport and can often make a team implode in spectacular fashion when the finish line is in sight. Any South African fans will attest to this and will also tell you how hard it is now to shake the ‘chokers’ tag they have been given. Rising star in the Proteas setup, Lungi Ngidi, has said that the chokers reference doesn’t affect the team but that is all hot air, it absolutely does and the South Africans have many demons to confront before they can become world-beaters.
England will do well to stay alert the whole way through the tournament so that they don’t develop a similar problem.
There’s no doubt about it though, the 2019 World Cup is all set up for England to triumph in and that is purely because they are the best team in the world as this moment in time. The fact they are the hosts is an added bonus but it could also be the one chink in their armour.