Ian Bell: Impressive England yet to play its best game
Many people, myself included, have championed England as potential winners of this tournament and today we all saw exactly why. In many ways England’s 87-run victory was a complete team win, with the batsmen all largely contributing and all of our bowlers sharing the wickets.
I don’t think it’s unfair of me to say a margin of victory like that can be considered a bit of a hammering and England will take massive confidence by booking itself a place in the 14 June semi-final in Cardiff after just two games.
"Just a word about Rooty, his consistency is absolutely astounding."
It wasn’t flashy, we didn’t see a lot of the explosive hitting which has made this team so popular over the last couple of years, but what we did see was a real collective effort to contribute to what ultimately was a very, very impressive victory.
Joe Root and Alex Hales both carried on their brilliant form, but this time we got to see Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler doing what they do best as well.
Just a word about Rooty, his consistency is absolutely astounding. That’s what differentiates a very good player with a special player, and Rooty certainly falls into the latter category.
We’re seeing the top players, the Roots, the Amlas, the Williamsons (who batted beautifully today by the way), the Kohlis scoring big runs in big games and that’s what stands them apart from others.
I must admit, I was worried when it was announced Chris Woakes was out for the tournament. He’s been in England’s go-to for so long now and I didn’t know who’d take over his role. I needn’t have worried!
Jake Ball gave England the best possible start with that early power play wicket, doing his job perfectly, and was given Player of the Match for some terrific bowling, but my pick of the bowlers was Liam Plunkett again.
Another four-wicket haul to his name will give him massive confidence and so it should. He’s playing fantastically. On a personal note, I'm over the moon for him. Since he’s been back in this team he’s shown everyone just what ability he has.
He’s been around the set-up for so long and I’m thrilled to see him producing the goods. Liam is a wicket-taker, pure and simple. And that’s exactly what you need in 50-over cricket. It’s not about preventing runs anymore, it’s about going out on the attack and making things happen. He does that.
Another who does that is Adil Rashid. I was pleased when I saw he was picked today. It was a really aggressive move and one that set our stall out. Like Plunkett, Adil takes wickets. He may go for some runs, but he does what he’s there for. In county cricket he’s unplayable at times. That’s what this England management is doing right for me – they’re not there to contain teams, but to attack them. It’s great to watch.
As a former England opener, I know just how much pressure Jason Roy will be under and all I can do is reiterate what I said before. I really hope England do what Eoin Morgan says they’ll do and back their man. He deserves to be given time to get his game back to where we all know it can be. And with the team winning, it’s the perfect opportunity to.
At the top of the order, it’s always a case of big risk, big reward and Jason personifies that. The way he plays – and just as importantly, and something people often overlook - the way he’s asked to play is risky. It won’t work all the time. It can’t do. But when it does, wow! And even when it doesn’t, it gives the others the confidence to play their game.
"The exciting thing about this England team is that it hasn’t played its best game yet."
In reality, in a team, not every player will be at the top of their game all the time. I think it was the World Cup when Australia won, when Glenn Maxwell was having a bit of a hard time. People were calling for him to be left out, then come the big game he smashed it out of the park. From recollection he hit the fastest ODI century off just 51 balls.
Jason Roy is a big game player. Let’s give him the opportunity to smash it out of the park.
The exciting thing about this England team is that it hasn’t played its best game yet. That’s still to come. And the best teams save their best games for when they really matter.
And better yet, it makes Saturday’s game at Edgbaston against the Aussies a must-win… for Australia!