England favourites, says Mike Brearley
John Michael Brearley, an iconic captain who led England to the final of the 1979 World Cup, has picked the hosts as “favourites” to win the 2019 edition.
“If the wicket is flat, England may just smash New Zealand. However, if the Lord’s surface does a bit, then I expect a tighter final (on Sunday),” Brearley told The Telegraph at a book-signing event at Daunt Books in South Hampstead on Thursday evening.
The event was preceded by Brearley reading a chapter from On Cricket, followed by an interactive session with a select group of readers.
This newspaper was, by the way, extended a special invitation. Also present was Brearley’s wife, Mana.
Asked if he’d expected England to have such an emphatic win over Australia in the semi-final, Brearley replied: “No, not at all. Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect, as Australia had been convincing in beating us in the league stage…
“Obviously, Jason Roy’s return after injury has made a huge difference and the partnership he has forged with Jonny Bairstow at the top of the order has been remarkable.”
Commenting on New Zealand causing an upset by getting the better of India in the first semi-final, on Wednesday, Brearley said: “The result did come as a surprise as India had topped the league stage and were among the favourites from the very beginning…
“I hadn’t marked out New Zealand to be one of the semi-finalists, but the other three in my book did make it. Good for New Zealand, who are being led by an astute captain — Kane Williamson.”
Brearley recalled Shane Warne’s observation on the eve of this World Cup: “It will be won by the team which has a captain who is a good leader and good at man management.”
Clearly, both Eoin Morgan and Williamson have been outstanding over the past six weeks.