A STRONG Yorkshire is a strong England, as the saying goes, and if England are to win the World Cup, there is a fair chance that the three Yorkshiremen in their team will play a key part.
Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Adil Rashid are gun players going into the competition and could have a big say on how it unfolds.
Bairstow has done supremely well since displacing Alex Hales at the top of the batting line-up.
The 29-year-old has exposed the folly of ignoring him for so long with a string of dazzling performances at home and abroad.
Bairstow hit four hundreds in six one-day international innings last year and thrashed another in the recent game against Pakistan in Bristol.
With Jason Roy, he forms an opening partnership so deadly that it is the cricketing equivalent of a skull and crossbones sign.
Bairstow lifted his game to another level in the Indian Premier League recently and is now arguably England’s best all-format batsman.
A combination of packed crowds, tournament pressure/expectation and the fact that he is at or around the peak of his powers make it likely that the World Cup will bring the best out of a man who thrives on a challenge and that sparks will fly from his bat in the next few weeks.
Ditto Root, who, although lacking Bairstow’s power and six-hitting capacity, is also at or around the peak of his game at the age of 28.
The England Test captain tends to sneak under the radar when it comes to one-day cricket because of dazzling strokemakers such as Bairstow, Roy and the extraordinary Jos Buttler, who could probably not just hit a daisy-cutter for six but also ramp it over the wicketkeeper’s head 10 rows back.
Root’s one-day international record, however, speaks for itself: 5,300 runs at an average of 50 with 14 hundreds and 30 fifties.
The Sheffield-born player is the essential glue in the England line-up and more than capable of match-winning performances in his own right.
Arguably the most irreplaceable member of the England team, however, is Rashid, a leg-spinner with no obvious rival to challenge his crown.
The 31-year-old has been the world’s most prolific wicket-taker in one-day cricket since the last World Cup and is a massive weapon in the so-called middle overs.
All that can be said is that England are deserved favourites going into the competition backed by a considerable helping of Yorkshire skill.Chris Waters
Rashid’s ability to turn the ball both ways – with the odd “ball of the century” thrown in – makes him captain Eoin Morgan’s most dependable source of wickets over the coming weeks.
It can only be hoped that the slight shoulder niggle with which Rashid has been struggling does not prevent him from lighting up the event at a time when he, too, is in the prime of his career.
There is, of course, the possibility that a fourth Yorkshire player in David Willey could yet play a part.
Although omitted from the final 15-man squad, Willey is effectively on standby should injury strike, and, with Mark Wood having already had a slight injury scare going into the tournament, it is perhaps just as likely as not that Willey will be needed.
Could it yet be that, on Sunday July 14, in the final at Lord’s, an England side containing four Yorkshire players wins the World Cup?
All that can be said is that England are deserved favourites going into the competition backed by a considerable helping of Yorkshire skill.