LONDON (Reuters) - England have never won the Cricket World Cup and after a dismal run of form and chaotic preparations few people would expect them to put that right in this year's tournament.
They have won only seven of their last 21 one-day internationals and were forced to axe Alastair Cook as captain in December following a dispiriting 5-2 series defeat in Sri Lanka.
But under the leadership of Eoin Morgan there were signs of improvement in the Tri-Series in Australia, two wins over India sending them into the final against the hosts.
Despite a crushing 112-run defeat by the Australians, who were inspired by a fiery spell of bowling by England's Ashes nemesis Mitchell Johnson, Morgan remained upbeat.
"I don't think he (Johnson) was the biggest threat," Morgan said. "We were. We pushed the self-destruct button.
"I am happy with the series as a whole. Apart from today's game we've made big inroads and getting to the final was an achievement in itself," Morgan added.
England lost home series to India and Sri Lanka last year under Cook whose scratchy batting at the top of the order epitomised a team playing old-style one-day cricket lacking the power and urgency needed to win internationals.
But Ian Bell has struck a rich vein of form with the bat, scoring 187 in a warm-up game and 141 against Australia, while Morgan made a magnificent 121 in the opening defeat by the hosts.
"When you have 15 players in the squad that are playing well that gives you a great feeling around the team and a lot of confidence," assistant coach Paul Farbrace said.
"We don't want to be remembered as that a team that has progressed, but as a team that has won games."
Another recent positive has been the return to form of fast bowler Steven Finn, who took five wickets against India with a hostile spell.
If the lanky Finn can maintain that form England will have a formidable pace attack with James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes giving Morgan genuine weapons.
Moeen Ali is an adequate spinner as well as an explosive opening batsman and with James Taylor, Joe Root, Morgan and Ravi Bopara England should not be short of runs.
They also have a fine wicketkeeper in Jos Buttler whose explosive and innovative batting also gives the team an X-factor they will need to go far in the tournament.
England start their World Cup campaign against Australia on Feb. 14 with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Afghanistan and Scotland also in their group.
Editing by Patrick Johnston