England eye Australia after making short work of New Zealand
England live up to their billing as Champions Trophy favourites as they qualify for semi-finals with routine victory in Cardiff
Chris Woakes injury dents England's Champions Trophy chances
England opened their assault on the Champions trophy with a convincing win over Bangladesh, but it came at a cost – all-rounder Chris Woakes was ruled out of the tournament with a side strain.
There were other setbacks, too, as England chased down a total of 305 with three overs to spare on what The Times calls a day of "anxiety and upheaval".
Centurion Joe Root picked up a calf injury at the crease and was forced to hobble between wickets, which took some of the gloss off his highest ODI score of 133.
Opener Jason Roy failed with the bat yet again, while seamer Jake Ball endured a torrid day after he was surprisingly chosen ahead of leg spinner Adil Rashid. The Woakes injury meant that Ben Stokes, who was recovering from a knee problem, was forced to bowl seven overs.
Skipper Eoin Morgan took positives from the result, which clearly illustrates England's progress in this format.
But losing Woakes is a "huge blow" for England, says the Daily Telegraph. "He has emerged as one of the team's most dependable players over the past year. He can swing the white ball at pace and is versatile with the bat, capable of attacking or stabilising the innings in the case of a collapse."
It's a sign of his growing influence that the "injury represents a genuine blow to England's chances of winning their first ever 50-over global tournament", says The Guardian.
And there are concerns that his absence could increase the pressure on Stokes to deliver.
As far as replacements are concerned, the Guardian says: "The Middlesex pair of Steven Finn, Toby Roland-Jones and Surrey's Tom Curran represent England's most likely options with the ball, although the England management may give consideration to recalling Stuart Broad, the seamer they have used as a Test specialist in the two years since the 2015 World Cup."
Champions Trophy: Bangladesh banana skin awaits favourites England
Despite a spectacular batting collapse and a comprehensive defeat to South Africa on Monday, hosts England begin the Champions Trophy tournament this week as favourites.
It's an unusual position for England's cricketers to find themselves in. They have never won a global 50-over tournament and were, until a few years ago, something of a laughing stock in the one-day game.
But under Eoin Morgan, England have transformed themselves from the shambolic outfit that limped out of the 2015 World Cup into arguably the most aggressive and fearless team in the world.
Between 1 and 18 June they will be expected to deliver on two years of impressive performances in the tournament that features the eight best 50-over cricket teams in the world.
"It is a hard-to-predict tournament, with five outstanding teams – England, Australia, India, South Africa and New Zealand – and three others who could all provide upsets. It should be a terrific spectacle," says Michael Atherton of The Times. "One thing that can be said with certainty is that England's selectors and management have had a good pre-tournament, bringing a settled, confident and respected team to the boil at the right time.
"England are transformed from the one-paced outfit that struggled to keep up in the last World Cup, which is credit to the leadership of the team, and the selectors, who belatedly recognised the need to give a group of talented cricketers their head. Rightly, with home advantage, they are considered tournament favourites. The best guess here is for an England-Australia final."
The change that has come over England has been "dramatic", says George Dobell of Cricinfo. In the past two years, they have posted five of their six highest one-day scores including the world record total of 444 against Pakistan.
They bat deep and have plentiful bowling, he adds, but the biggest change has been mental.
"Most of all, they are a team that will, with the bat, with the ball and in the field, always take the positive option. And if they go down, they'll go down swinging.
"They might even be the most exciting team to watch in the tournament; has that ever been the case with an England ODI side?"
Even Geoffrey Boycott of the Daily Telegraph seems enthusiastic. He agrees that England are unrecognisable from two years ago.
"We lagged behind other teams with our safety first and old-fashioned method of batting. It had to go. A new attitude had to take hold and the players [had to] bat more aggressively… We have started to play thrilling, exciting, one-day cricket. England now play without fear.
"We have bowlers who can bat, which lengthens the tail. All of our bowlers have wicket taking ability and variation.
"So no more talking, no more excuses. England are playing at home in front of adoring fans so go and damn well win the tournament," he concludes in typically forthright fashion.
But there could be a banana skin awaiting England in their very first match of the tournament against Bangladesh at the Oval on Thursday.
It was Bangladesh who knocked England out of the 2015 World Cup and that match had a profound effect not just on England, says Tim Wigmore of The Guardian.
Victory "heralded the birth of a new [Bangladesh] team", he says. "Patronised no more, Bangladesh promptly won six straight ODI series at home to reach the Champions Trophy, ahead of the West Indies; now they are ranked sixth."
What's more, they've developed a taste for embarrassing England.
"Last October Bangladesh beat England: their first ever victory against a full-strength Test nation other than Zimbabwe, and then drew 1-1 in Sri Lanka in March.
"It should just be the start. With 160 million people – fewer only than India and Pakistan among Test nations – an insatiable zest for cricket and improving infrastructure, in sport and beyond, Bangladesh loom as world cricket's next major force," says Wigmore.