As England aim for glory in the cricket World Cup, we look at the players’ early years

IT’S coming home . . .  cricket, that is. England has never won the sport’s one-day World Cup but that could change tomorrow at Lord’s when we take on New Zealand in the final.

Eoin Morgan’s side are favourites, having beaten the Kiwis in the qualifiers and gone on to humble old enemy Australia in the semi-final. Now GRANT ROLLINGS introduces the 11 youngsters who grew up to bring England to the brink of World Cup glory.


Eoin Morgan

Morgan’s talents blossomed in surroundings not normally fertile for cricket

The England captain learned how to bat on a strip of concrete with a long wall blocking the possibility of hitting it in one direction. As a result the left-hander’s strength – as the opposition know to their cost – is playing the ball straight down the ground and over mid-wicket.

Morgan’s talents blossomed in surroundings not normally fertile for cricket. He grew up with five siblings in a three-bed terrace on the St Catherine’s Estate in Rush, 20 miles from Dublin.

The most popular sport in those parts is hurling and some locals questioned why Eoin’s family loved the “British” game so much. While he played cricket for Ireland up to the under-19 level, he was allowed to switch to England because his mum Olivia was born in Ipswich and he’s always had a British passport.

Morgan, 32, is married to Tara Ridgway, 24, whose father David is Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment.

Jonny Bairstow

Jonny was aged just eight when he returned home in 1998 to find his dad had hanged himself

England’s fiery opening batsman knows all to well the mental health pressure faced by cricket players – because his dad died at his own hand after retiring from the game. Jonny was aged just eight when he returned home in 1998 with his mum Janet, who was battling cancer, to find his dad David Bairstow had hanged himself.

David, nicknamed Bluey, played four Tests for England as a wicket keeper and captained Yorkshire. The coroner recorded an open verdict, saying David could have been making a “cry for help” due to the stress of his wife’s illness and an impending drink-driving court case.

In his memoirs Jonny wrote “Why my dad decided to end his life, and why he did so that evening, is an unsolvable puzzle. There was no note to read, no definitive clue to discover.”

His mum has twice fought back from cancer and the red-headed star says he is his “mother’s son”.

Jason Roy

Roy moved to England when he was ten

England’s hero opener put the Aussies to the sword by smashing 85 runs of just 65 balls before wrongly before given out. But the 28-year-old batsman risked his place in the final on Sunday by refusing to walk and then swearing as he finally agreed to go.

Thankfully, the South African born big hitter was only had two disciplinary points rather than the four which would have seen him banned. Roy moved to England when he was aged ten and started playing for Surrey’s youth teams shortly afterwards.

He was a very close friend of fellow cricketer Tom Maynard who was electrocuted on a railway line while drunk and on drugs in 2012. When Surrey’s player paid tribute to Maynard with a minute’s silence Roy was close to tears.

Roy married Elle Winter in France in 2017 and she gave birth to their first child Everly this March.

Joe Root

Root is England’s highest run scorer so far in this World Cup with 549

Root is already a sporting hero after telling West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel that “there’s nothing wrong with being gay” when the opposition player tried to ‘sledge’ him this year.

The England all rounder, who captain’s the nation’s test side, was applauded for standing up to homophobic comments. It is not unusual in the game of cricket for opposition players to attempt to verbally intimidate batsmen with insults known as sledging.

Sheffield born Root, 28, is England’s highest run scorer so far in this World Cup with 549. He married Carrie Root, 30, in December 2018 and they have a two year-old son, Alfie, two, who sometimes travels with Joe on tour.

Root praised his wife saying: “Carrie is Supermum. I am aware of the sacrifices they have to make and the things they give up to allow me to come and do this job.”

Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes is the world’s most sought-after player

The all rounder’s career hung in the balance last year when he stood trial for his part in a boozy brawl outside a bar in Bristol. Stokes, 28, was cleared of affray after two witnesses told The Sun he’d protected them from a homophobic attack.

It wasn’t the first time the fiery red head’s alcohol intake had got him into hot water. Stokes was sent home from the England Lions tour of Australia in 2013 for drinking until the very early hours of the morning.

But his power with the bat means he is the world’s most sought after player – earning a record breaking £1.7million contract to appear in the Indian Premier League in 2017.

Born in New Zealand he moved to Cumbria in England when he was aged 12 because his dad Ged Stokes had become coach of Workington’s rugby league side. He married Clare Ratcliffe, 29, in 2017 and they have two children, son Layton, seven, and daughter Libby, four.

Jofra Archer

England had to relax their residency rules to allow Archer to play

England’s new pace bowler Jofra Archer can put the nail into the coffin of New Zealand’s hopes – having learned how to play next to a cemetery. The sport grounds at Christ Church Foundation School, in Barbados, where Jofra got his cricket education backed onto a graveyard.

The 24-year-old Caribbean star has proved himself in this summer’s world cup taking the most wickets for England with 19 scalps so far. He might have played for the West Indies, but was dropped from their under-19 squad and applied to turn out for England instead.

Even though Jofra’s father Frank is English and used to drive trains on the London Underground his inclusion in the World Cup squad proved to be controversial.

England had to relax their residency rules prior to the tournament because he wasn’t going to be eligible until 2022.

Chris Woakes

Woakes almost became a footballer

Key all rounder Chris Woakes almost became a football star, playing as a winger at Walsall FC’s school of excellence until the age of 14. And England’s selectors will be glad he chose the nation’s summer sport because Woakes was named man of the match on Thursday at Edgbaston after taking three key Aussie wickets.

Handy with a bat as well the Birmingham born 30-year-old Woakes is happy the World Cup is on home soil. His dad Roger doesn’t like to fly because he suffers from a mild form of claustrophobia and would have not had to travel far to see England beat Australia at Edgbaston.

Chris said: “He drives all over the UK but has never left the country.”

The England bowler is married to Amie, 30, and she gave birth to a baby daughter Laila Louise last year.

Adil Rashid

Rashid used to practice in the basement of his home in Bradford

Leg spinner Rashid practised in the basement of his parents Bradford house – even though it was not big enough. The West Yorkshire born bowler said the subterranean room was a bit short at 18 yards to get any run up but was “good for batting and throw-downs”.

His dad Abdul Rashid once revealed: “I made one room in our house, a big room in the basement, for practice. We used a proper cricket ball. We ruined the place, but it doesn’t matter.”

Rashid’s England career has been up and down since making his debut in 2009 and he spent four years out of the national set up. Former captain Michael Vaughan caused controversy when he described Rashid’s call up to the test squad as “ridiculous” because he hadn’t been playing “red ball” cricket for Yorkshire.

But there were no such questions about Rashid when he took three wickets with the white ball against Australia on Thursday.

Liam Plunkett

Plunkett turned down a a place in an England squad so he wouldn’t have to postpone his wedding

The bowler put his maiden before overs by turning down a place in an England squad in order to marry his wife Emeleah Erb last year. Normally, international cricketers would put the game before any family event – even their nuptials.

Captain Eoin Morgan shifted his big day in order to go on the tour of Sri Lanka when dates for test and limited over matches were changed. But Plunkett, 34, but his place at risk saying: “I think England understand my position. I’m not going to change and ruin everything for her.”

More than 60 guests from bride’s side had booked flights from the United States and he wouldn’t have been a popular son-in-law.

In the end the North Yorkshireman held onto his one day international spot and has helped England get to the final.

Jos Buttler

Butler became a dad for the first time this year

Prior to reaching the world cup final England’s vice captain Jos Buttler’s career highlight was scoring his first ton – because it earned him one hundred quid from his dad.

Born in Taunton in Somerset the wicket keeper and right handed batsman was given final encouragement by his father.

Once when he was asked his most memorable day on the field, Buttler 28, replied: “Maybe scoring my first hundred for Somerset Under 12s against Gloucester U12s at Glastonbury. My dad said he’d give me £100 when I got my first hundred so I remember looking over at him with a big grin thinking I was going to be rich.”

He married pilates instructor Louise in October 2017, and they have a baby daughter Georgia Rose, who was born in April this year.

Mark Wood

Wood almost fell out of love with the sport due to all the time he spent recuperating from an ankle injury

England’s fast bowler has endured an injury blighted career and there were doubts he’s be bit for the world cup due to problems with his ankle.

The Durham player had to change his short explosive run up to a longer one because it was doing so much damage to his body as he bowls at speeds of 95mph.

Wood, 29, admitted to having some “mental scars” and almost falling out of love with the sport due to all the time he spent recuperating.

Thanks for England’s sport psychologist David Young and coach Trevor Bayliss he’s now “not even thinking about it – just bowling.”

Wood was born to play the game with his uncle Neil playing cricket for Northumberland and his dad for local side Ashington.

Wood married his wife Sarah at the end of 2018 at Ellingham Hall in his home county.

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