Dennis Amiss believes England are genuine contenders to win the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.
Amiss is a big fan of the exciting brand of 50-over cricket played by Eoin Morgan and his team. And the Warwickshire and England batting legend is well-qualified to judge, having known plenty of success in limited-overs cricket during his stellar career.
Amiss was the first player to score a century for England in a major tournament when he struck 137 against India at Lord’s in the first round of group matches in the inaugural World Cup in 1975.
That is the Edgbaston effect and when players get that sort of backing it makes a lot of difference.Dennis Amiss
Limited-overs cricket has changed radically since then, of course. Run-rates have spiralled, bowlers are treated with scant respect and targets get ever taller.
Amiss loves the way England have embraced that evolution and is looking forward to seeing them take on old enemy Australia in their final ICC Champions Trophy group game at a sell-out Edgbaston on Saturday.
England will go into the game already assured of a semi-final place after impressive wins over Bangladesh and New Zealand while the Aussies need a victory after two washouts.
Amiss is backing an England side which he insists will benefit from one factor which never changes: “The Edgbaston effect.”
“The ground has a special, unique atmosphere and it does lift you as a player,” he said. “Every time you hit a four or take a wicket there is that great noise and it is inspiring.
“That is the Edgbaston effect and when players get that sort of backing it makes a lot of difference. It’s one of the reasons why England have got a great track record at the ground.
“It will be a great occasion on Saturday. One-day cricket has gone up another level in recent years and this England team has really embraced that. They play positive, exciting cricket and if I was a betting man I think I’d have a fiver on them in this tournament.
“Australia will be a tough nut to crack, as they always are. They have a lot of quality, especially in the batting, but their bowling is good but not exceptional and can be a little expensive. They need to win so it’s all set up for a great day at Edgbaston.”
Amiss enjoyed plenty of momentous duels with the Aussies as a player, including back in that 1975 World Cup when England powered through the group only to come a cropper against Australia in an amazing semi-final at Headingley.
In the group, After Amiss’s ton helped earn England a 202-run win over India (whose pursuit of 335 was not helped by Sunil Gavaskar batting through his side’s 60 overs for 36 not out!) they beat New Zealand by 80 runs at Trent Bridge. Their final group game was then at Edgbaston where East Africa were beaten by 196 runs. Amiss scored 88 out of England’s 290 for five before East Africa were skittled for 94 courtesy of some bowling figures unlikely to be replicated in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy: John Snow 12-6-11-4, Derek Underwood 10-5-11-0.
There was a lot of excitement around that first World Cup because one-day cricket was really gaining interestDennis Amiss
Then it was up to Leeds for the semi-final – and an extraordinary game in which England were all out for 93 (Gary Gilmour 12-6-14-6) and then had Australia 39 for six before Doug Walters and Gilmour took their side to a four-wicket victory.
“There was a lot of excitement around that first World Cup because one-day cricket was really gaining interest,” Amiss said. “It was a tournament we thought we could do well in and at least get to the final. West Indies were the team to beat, of course, but we went up to Headingley for the semi-final against Australia feeling quite confident.
“It was an amazing match. The day was overcast and the ball swung and seamed all over the place. We were all out for 93 but even then should have won. They were 39 for six and we dropped a couple of catches, by people who normally caught everything – Tony Greig and Chris Old – which would have had them 50 for eight. But you can never count the Aussies out.”