England launch World Cup bid against South Africa

England will put four years of planning to the test when they face South Africa in the opening match of the 2019 World Cup at the Oval on Thursday.

So embarrassing was England’s first-round exit at the 2015 edition in Australia and New Zealand it prompted a major rethink of their attitude to the white-ball game.

The transformation has been remarkable, with Eoin Morgan’s men climbing to the top of the one-day international rankings and twice setting a new record for the highest one-day international total, which now stands at 481 for six.

Batting has been the basis of England’s ODI rejuvenation, with Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Morgan and the dynamic Jos Buttler among a top seven who can all change the course of an innings in the blink of an eye.

“It’s an exciting feeling being in this team as you have world-class players all around you and the opposition might get 370, but there’s a belief in the dressing room we can chase it down,” said England leg-spinner Adil Rashid.

“There is no hesitation or someone going ‘I don’t know about this’. We all have that belief and confidence we can do it,” added Rashid, whose ability to take wickets at key stages has also been an important part of England’s white-ball revival.

“We will hopefully stick to what we’ve been doing the past four years and hopefully the World Cup will work out well for us.”

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