Jonathan Agnew: England deserve to be world number one

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent

In terms of their preparation for next summer's World Cup, England are getting it spot on.

We are guessing a little as to what the conditions will be like in the UK next summer, and to what sort of pitches the International Cricket Council will want the tournament played on, but Eoin Morgan's men look to have all bases covered.

They are the number one side in the world and, the way they have played this summer, that mantle is deserved.

Yes, there was that strange result against Scotland, but one-day international cricket can produce those from time to time.

Even from that loss in Edinburgh, Morgan found the positives. The Irishman did not panic and said it was a good thing that his players were given a kick up the backside. He's probably been proved right.

From there, they dealt with Australia in fantastic fashion, dishing out a 5-0 whitewash. In particular, the win at Old Trafford, where Jos Buttler made that superb century, showed that England can win from any position.

Most important, though, was this 2-1 series victory over India, completed with an eight-wicket canter at Headingley.

After England were well beaten in the opener at Trent Bridge, there were people saying they would struggle against 'proper opposition'. To come back and win the next two games is really something.

Added significance comes from the fact that England won a series-decider, a one-off game that replicates the pressure of a knockout tie, or a winner-takes-all group game, the sort of stakes you might encounter at a World Cup.

I said after the series against Australia that England would probably want the World Cup to begin as soon as possible, and now the challenge is to maintain the momentum.

They have what could be a tricky trip to Sri Lanka, followed by some winnable matches in the West Indies. Next summer, they meet Ireland and Pakistan before the real business begins.

The good thing about this side is that they have the tools to thrive in all conditions. I'd back them to do well in the subcontinent, or in places like New Zealand and South Africa. Having two spinners in Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali and all-round options like Ben Stokes, David Willey and Chris Woakes allows you do that.

If they do come a little unstuck in Sri Lanka, my hope is that they do not start making changes.

With this group, that seems unlikely. You could even extend that to the strange decisions we have seen England make in the run-up to previous World Cups, ripping up long-laid plans on the eve of the tournament. Again, I can't see that happening.

In fact, we could probably go so far to name the team that will line up for England on 30 May 2019 against South Africa at The Oval. Not only that, but where each player will bat and where they will field. That is the sign of a really strong outfit.

I suppose the biggest concern for England is making sure everyone stays fit. What might they do if one of Moeen or Rashid gets injured? At Headingley, James Vince came in because Alex Hales and Jason Roy were ruled out - do they need to identify for certain who their back-up batsmen might be?

However, at the moment, England have no cause to be concerned.

In Morgan, they have an outstanding leader, who runs the team exactly how he wants to do it. All of the players speak of him so respectfully. Joe Root has mentioned how he would like to bring some of Morgan's touches to the Test team.

As for coach Trevor Bayliss, despite the criticism he receives for the mixed results of the Test side, you cannot argue with what he has achieved with the one-day team.

India were the last Test side that won an ODI series against England, in January 2017. They came here to win but were beaten by the better team. They can't point to English conditions, either, because we have been enjoying this hot, dry summer.

It is those conditions that add a layer of intrigue to the Test series that begins on 1 August.

There are five matches crammed into six weeks, so we hope that the players do not succumb to injuries in that ridiculous schedule.

That aside, it will be lively and exciting. I'm really looking forward to it.

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