The new era of English one-day cricket

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After a farcical Cricket World Cup campaign, and a poor few years leading up to it, England are in desperate need of change in the one-day side.

England have needed a revamp for years, but the one-day game continuing to move forwards has left England further behind, courtesy of their approach to one-day cricket ruled by safety and fear, plus picking Test players not suited to one-day cricket.

England cannot get away with it any longer, so change couldn’t be needed any more.

On the 28th April, England named an ODI squad to face Ireland in their first ODI since the Cricket World Cup. At the time of that announcement, England were playing a Test series in the West Indies, which contained some of England’s most exciting multi-format talents in Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.

The ECB had announced a while back that none of the Test XI playing in the West Indies would be part of the one-day squad to play Ireland. Therefore leaving plenty of space to finally see some of the most exciting domestic one-day talent.

The ECB didn’t disappoint when they named Jason Roy, James Vince, Sam Billings, Zafar Ansari, David Willey and Lewis Gregory in the squad. Mark Wood and Adil Rashid were later added, who were part of the Test squad, but didn’t get to play any Tests. Jonny Bairstow was also named, who was deputy to Jos Buttler as wicket-keeper in the West Indies, but didn’t take part.

Of course, they still selected someone past his best by picking Tim Bresnan in the ODI squad, who has lost pace and possesses a bowling average above 35 and economy rate near 5.5 for England.

The ODI vs Ireland was sadly rained off 18 overs into Ireland’s innings.

We got to see two debutants bowl. Mark Wood showed good pace and got movement on a slow Malahide wicket in cloudy conditions. 5-0-25-1. William Porterfield was Wood’s first international wicket.

David Willey also bowled. He isn’t quick, but bowled to the conditions with figures of 4-1-17-1 and took Andrew Balbirnie for his first ODI wicket.

Sam Billings didn’t play, which was silly. He was one of the star players of the 2014 Royal London One-Day Cup. Jason Roy, James Vince and Zafar Ansari all played, but rain prevented them being able to showcase their talent.

The question is that with the rest of the England players available for selection when they play New Zealand in their next ODI series, will the ECB move on from the likes of Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad and James Anderson, and stick with the next generation of young one-day cricketers, allowing them to bed into the side and help England try to be a powerhouse in ODIs?

I’m not sure they’d completely throw away the experienced members, but if they did, it would be the right thing to do medium and long term, as harsh as they may see it to not select Bell, Morgan, Bopara, Broad and Anderson, so we can build a new team that is settled by the time we play in the next tournament.

We have to look to the future and try to win the 2017 Champions Trophy and 2019 Cricket World Cup with a team consisting of proper one-day players.

What does give England fans hope that we may finally see an ODI side that consists of exciting, dynamic one-day players is that there has been a lot of change within the ECB and incoming chairman Colin Graves, chief executive Tom Harrison, plus newly appointed Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss can all see that change is needed.

They have made necessary changes that could’ve potentially blocked the pathway to changes being made in the side, such as the sacking of coach Peter Moores. Graves and Harrison have made their intentions clear, and mediocrity is something they won’t accept.

I believe that the next coach will be someone who will improve the one-day side. Therefore, I lead onto what players we could pick in order to move in the right direction.

What group of players should England be selecting from for ODI Cricket in my opinion?

Jason Roy, Alex Hales, James Vince, James Taylor, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Zafar Ansari, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes, David Willey, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, Lewis Gregory, Chris Jordan, Steven Finn, Danny Briggs.

Steven Finn should try to regain full pace and wicket-taking knack at Middlesex first, but when he does, then he should definitely be around England’s ODI side.

The rest of my selections, however, are ready now.

Main points of what my ODI side would be:

Jason Roy and Alex Hales would be my opening partnership. It would be electric if they got going. Roy goes from ball one, which suits Hales, who gives himself some time before going big, so the partnership should work.

The number three position? There’s three paths I would look at.

The first path would be to have James Vince at three and Ben Stokes at six, with a specialist spinner who can bat from 8-11. Vince is a classy stroke-player from Hampshire, with a domestic one-day average of 35.75 and strike rate of 93. Stokes at six would provide muscular power-hitting at the latter end of the innings. It would go against the LH-RH combination within the top 3 which many coaches crave. I don’t buy into that, but that’s my opinion.

The second path would be to have Ben Stokes at three and Moeen Ali at six. Stokes at three could be a good dynamic move. He has the ability to play a long and destructive innings, and can score at well over a run a ball. He has the technique to bat there too. Ali at six could be a good option as he can come in against an older ball against bowlers looking bowl it fuller than they would if he opened, which has seen him struggle against short balls and genuine pace. Ali has the game to bat at six, though he isn’t used to batting there, so it could be a falling point.

The third path would be to have both James Taylor and Joe Root in the side, with James Taylor at three. Taylor possesses a fantastic domestic one-day record, averaging well over 50 at a strike rate in the 80’s. He scored four fifties in nine innings batting at three in the winter for England. It would be a path which would be the most likely to respond best to both openers falling early more than Vince or Stokes, but Taylor/Root could potentially be too sluggish in the middle overs.

Number four should be between James Taylor and Joe Root. I’d prefer only one to play, despite both having good averages for England in ODIs and are both good accumulative batsmen. Both are captaincy options, so it could depend on who you want as captain. Take your pick…

I’d push Jos Buttler up to five. I think he is one of England’s best players and would become more consistent with added responsibility up the order, and win more games if he had more time to try and get himself in.

I’d take a punt on Sam Billings at seven as a specialist finisher. I think it’s important that England have a specialist in the finishing role, who can be relied upon, and deliver consistently.

I am not a fan of bringing back older players, but Liam Plunkett would make my bowling attack, as he’s a much improved bowler from before. He offers pace with the ball, as well as experience. He also provides power hitting at eight or nine, which is a big advantage to the side which Australia are particularly good at and have embraced.

Our bowling needs more pace and variety; so the pace of Mark Wood is worth a punt for now at least. He’s skiddy, bowls a natural full length, gets some movement with the new ball and can hit 90mph. He has the makings of a good ODI bowler, though I’m not sure he bowls at the death.

Lewis Gregory is worth a go as he has a knack of taking wickets, and can bowl at the death. He’s opened the bowling for Somerset, and has also been a change bowler, so he is flexible. He also provides power hitting at eight, nine, ten which is a bonus.

When Chris Woakes returns from injury, he’ll be there or thereabouts. He’s an accurate bowler who can swing the ball and has the ability to bowl at the death. He is also a more than capable batsman.

David Willey is another option. He’s not quick, but he’s a competitive multi-dimensional cricketer, and can give England left arm variety.

Chris Jordan needs to improve his accuracy. I wouldn’t play him straight-away, but with added improvement, he’s an option. He is capable of filling different roles and is an excellent fielder, especially in the slips.

If Moeen Ali doesn’t play, then we’ll need to pick Adil Rashid, Zafar Ansari or Danny Briggs. Rashid is the most attacking option. He can win you a game, or go for plenty, but is an improved leg-spinner. He’s also a very decent batsman and good slip fielder. Ansari is a good option, who can provide tidy left-arm spin, cameos down the order and is an excellent fielder in front of the wicket. He also has an excellent cricket brain and is a fast improving cricketer. Briggs has done well in the domestic one-day competition for years. He’s a wicket-taking left-arm spinner who can bowl in the Powerplay.

  1. Roy, 2. Hales, 3. Vince/Stokes/Taylor, 4. Root/Taylor*, 5. Buttler, 6. Stokes/Ali, 7. Billings, 8-11. Plunkett/Wood/Gregory/Woakes/Willey/Jordan/Finn/Ansari/Rashid/Briggs.

So I’ve named the players I would consider and pick, and the reasons for it. The talent is there, the quality is there and England can definitely pose a challenge in the ODI arena. It now needs the new regime to pick our best talents, entice a positive brand of cricket and allow them to blossom, which I think is now far more likely than it ever has been!

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