New faces but no complete reset – talking points as England take on West Indies
A new-look England will be looking to draw a line under a miserable World Cup as they take on the West Indies in a three-match ODI series.
Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the topics up for debate ahead of the series opener in Antigua on Sunday.
Keep calm and carry on
No longer the standard-bearers in ODIs after their crown dramatically slipped in India, the talk from outside the England camp is of a reset. Those inside the dressing room, however, argue that one bad campaign should not be followed by radical transformation. It is sound logic given how successful the blueprint created by Eoin Morgan then taken on by Jos Buttler was, enabling England to become the first nation to hold both limited-overs World Cups simultaneously.
Out with the old, in with the new
So a change in approach seems unlikely but only half a dozen of the World Cup squad have travelled out to the Caribbean, which might have been the case regardless of how well they fared. Many of England’s established stars are the wrong side of 30 and unlikely to be involved in the 2027 World Cup – some such as Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes might not play another ODI. Will Jacks and Phil Salt are set to form an explosive opening combination while teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed and pacemen Gus Atkinson and the uncapped John Turner may be at the forefront of a new era.
Pressure on Buttler and Mott
As England’s World Cup title defence unravelled, scrutiny inevitably fell on the decision-making of captain Buttler and head coach Matthew Mott. They have been backed fully by director of men’s cricket Rob Key, who shouldered some of the blame for prioritising the Test team above all else. While Key expects the experience to strengthen Buttler-Mott as a partnership, he added the caveat: “If it isn’t, it isn’t and you move on.” Victory in this series and in the three T20s that follow – six months before returning here for the T20 World Cup – would go a long way to easing some concerns.
Cricket’s unrelenting schedule
Barely three weeks on from the final match of the World Cup, six travellers from a gruelling trip to India are in another continent preparing for a different series. Buttler, Atkinson, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone and Brydon Carse hardly had any time back in the UK before having to pack their suitcases again. A congested programme is frequently lamented and shows no sign of slowing down – although these are England’s last ODIs until September.
Rally round the West Indies
While England’s campaign in India went badly awry and they finished seventh out of 10 teams, the Windies were absent from the extravaganza, losing four of five matches and finishing below Scotland and Zimbabwe in the qualifiers. Shai Hope remains captain but the hosts will be without Jason Holder and Nicholas Pooran because of their involvement in the Abu Dhabi T10, a reminder of the Windies’ talent drain to franchise competitions. Shane Dowrich was then named in the squad before immediately retiring from international cricket this week. Little-known players such as Alick Athanaze, Yannic Cariah, Keacy Carty and Gudakesh Motie therefore get a chance to show what they can do as the Windies look to rebuild.
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