We just want to play good mentally positive cricket .... England's Trevor Bayliss
Since Trevor Bayliss took over as England head coach in 2015, a global tournament trophy has evaded his side.
- England have reached the semi-final of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup for the first time since 1992
- England beat India and New Zealand to guarantee their place in the semi-finals
They are the No.1 ODI side in the world, have dominated the white-ball game the world over and also claimed some impressive Test series wins both home and away.
But in the white-hot heat of knockout competitions, Bayliss' England have been found wanting, so far.
They lost the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final to Pakistan two years ago in Cardiff and the World T20 final to the West Indies in Calcutta in 2016.
But the biggest stage of all is the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, and England are in the semi-finals now for the first time in 27 years.
And Bayliss is confident that Eoin Morgan and his troops are ready to put those narrow reversals behind them on home soil at Edgbaston.
“You will have to ask the players but they probably think they have a point to prove,” admitted Bayliss after his side’s 119-run win over New Zealand in Durham.
“They are professional sportsmen. They want to win every single match they play especially these semi-final and final matches. That is where it is at.
“I think they will give themselves the best chance. All I can ask is we play good cricket because we know if we play good cricket the opposition will have to play extremely well to beat us.
“You have to be playing your best cricket at the end of the tournament. We have probably played our best cricket in the last two games."
After defeats to Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Australia, England’s semi-final ambitions looked like they might be going up in smoke.
But the tournament hosts turned the tide with back-to-back wins over India and New Zealand – and it was a back to basics approach that made the difference according to Bayliss.
He added: “I wasn’t as concerned after Australia loss. We were outplayed in that one. What concerned me was the one before that. We completely went away from how we had been playing the game for the previous four years.
“Despite what a lot of people thought, I thought we were very tentative in the first half of our run chase.
“Not once have we ever gone out to make four or 500 as I keep hearing. We just want to play good mentally positive cricket to put pressure on the opposition with strong cricket shots.
“We had a chat before the India game and everyone spoke, including the younger players in the group. They were very honest about how they were feeling and what they thought they had to do to crack it.
“We have two guys at the top of the order who do that pretty well which leads to good partnerships and big scores.”
But while England’s return to form has come at just the right time, the head coach knows they will need to find another gear in the knockout stages if they are to win England’s first-ever World Cup crown.
He added: “It is going to be another step up again in class. India are obviously a very good team and having beat them in our last match they are going to want to prove a point in the next match, if it is India.
“We have to be able to produce what we have done in the last two games in the semi-final. The fact they have been more or less quarter finals should serve us well.
“Yes. I think it is a good sign for the boys. It is something we have been able to do for a few years is bounce back after a loss.
“In this World Cup when there is this extra pressure to be able to do it in those circumstances is a good sign.”