Cricket Expert & Columnist
Shane Warne impressed by how England embraced their tag as World Cup favourites
Last Updated: 01/06/19 11:03pm
Shane Warne believes England "flexed their muscles" during their victory over South Africa in the opening World Cup match at The Oval.
Eoin Morgan's side cruised to a 104-run win over the Proteas as Ben Stokes produced a fine all-round effort, following up a match-high score of 89 with a spectacular catch and two wickets.
Warne was equally impressed by how the hosts continue to embrace their tags as favourites in what proved to be a routine win.
"It is a fantastic time to celebrate how good this England side are playing," he said. "England flexed their muscles.
"Right from the word go when Nasser (Hussain) asked Eoin Morgan 'how are you handling being favourites?' and he said we like it.
"He could easily have said "there are some other good sides" but he said we like it. They know they are the favourites. They know they are the best side, they have proved it in the last few years and they still have room to improve on that.
"Right from ball one they looked on, when you looked out from our commentary box and onto the field, England looked like they had intensity, they looked they had energy out in the field.
"I thought it was interesting when Ben Stokes said in his interview that in years gone by England might have collapsed to 260 all out, they showed today they could dig in and still make a bit above par score.
"All the signs for England today were outstanding, I thought they were fantastic. There are signs that they are feeling comfortable where they are at, their players are all starting to find a bit of form and they are happy."
Having spent time alongside Stokes in the Indian Premier League in March and April with the Rajasthan Royals, Warne's only cause for concern was how hard the England all-rounder was pushing himself.
"I want Ben to play for another 10 years, he is so good for England, he is so good to watch and I know everybody has to train their own way," he explained.
"Everything I saw first-hand for six weeks during the IPL was Ben going at 100 mph and I just worry about his body.
"He is someone you want in the trenches with you, he is a great fellow and you want him in the side. He can't do (100 mph) every single day, you need to have a rest.
"My advice would be just know when to say 'I am going to take a break'. I don't need to catch 5,000 balls, I don't need to bowl 10 overs on a flat track, I don't need to face every ball.
"It's a fine balance of making sure he is prepared but also longevity and keeping him around in the team for a long time."
Nasser Hussain believes England's display proved they are a complete outfit in all aspects of the game.
"It was a great performance," he added. "Not because I didn't expect England to win today. They have shown us over the last three years what a good side they are.
"Other sides would look at them and say they are flat track bullies, can they do it when it is a little bit nibbly and where it sticks in the pitch? They did.
"Have they got the X-factor with the ball or are they one-dimensional and one-paced? Well they do have it now with Jofra Archer.
"What is their fielding like, are they dropping some catches? Just look at that fielding display. As an opening match that is exactly what you would have wanted.
"The other thing that was of note today, if England play well this country and this set of fans will get behind them, that was a great atmosphere at the end."
Any questions of whether Archer would be able to handle the pressure of playing in a home World Cup having only made his England one-day international debut in May was dismissed as he produced two fiery spells to finish with figures of 3-27 from seven overs.
"Archer is incredible really," he said. "A month ago he wasn't playing international cricket. Morgan when we was asked the question about if he would be in the World Cup squad (before Archer made his debut) and said 'we'll wait and see'.
"Morgan saw Archer for about five overs here at The Oval (in the ODI series) against Pakistan and they had made up their mind.
"England were a little bit one dimensional, a little bit one-paced and they needed a little bit extra pace. Anyone who has seen him in the flesh will recognise he is something special and what he gives is that X-factor England were lacking."
Watch West Indies vs Pakistan live on Sky Sports Cricket World Cup from 10am on Friday. England are back in action against Pakistan on Monday, from 10am on the same channel.