Cricket World Cup: Which team will your shirt be on? A nation by nation guide to the Cricket World Cup - England

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The Independent Online
VERDICT: All things are possible and England might overcome recent poor form, an ageing squad prone to injury and the precedent that no host nation has ever won the World Cup to become champions. The start is crucial. If they can win the opening match (preferably in style, but any old way will suffice), stoke their self-belief and receive the unqualified backing of the nation, we could be in for some five weeks. With this lot, do not expect to emerge emotionally intact. The head insists that the heart is bonkers, but the heart is looking towards Lord's on 20 June and the future of English cricket thereafter.

EMERGING HERO: Since the youngest member in the rest of the squad is 27 and they have an average age of above 31 the only possible contender would seem to be the big biffer from Preston, Andrew Flintoff. His fellow Lancastrian, Ian Austin, also keeps being mentioned as one who could have a profound effect on England's chances. However, a sneaking suspicion suggests that Vince Wells has the quality and depth of county experience to surprise a few.

ACHILLES' HEEL: Less a heel, more an array of dodgy backs, hamstrings and knees.

HISTORICAL POINT: The first century scored for England in their first match in the first World Cup also remains their highest. Dennis Amiss's innings of 137 came out of a total 334 for 4 as England beat India by 202 runs on 7 June 1975.

SILLY POINT: England might have considered playing Sri Lanka at Taunton instead of Lord's. There, they scored their second highest Cup total (333 for 9), scored one of their five centuries (David Gower's 130) and took their only five wicket haul (Vic Marks's 5 for 39). They also won by 47 runs - against Sri Lanka.

RECORD: 1975 semi-final; 1979 runners-up; 1983 semi-final; 1987 runners- up; 1992 runners-up; 1996 quarter-final

SQUAD: A J Stewart (capt), I D Austin, R D B Croft, M A Ealham, A Flintoff, N H Fairbrother, A R C Fraser, D Gough, G A Hick, A J Hollioake, N Hussain, N V Knight, A D Mullally, G P Thorpe, V J Wells.

ODDS: 5-1.

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