Opinion: England win doesn't answer any questions

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As England entered the final match of this series against India you would have thought that a quote from Dante Alighieri could have been posted above their dressing room door – "Abandon all hope ye who enter here."

As England entered the final match of this series against India you would have thought that a quote from Dante Alighieri could have been posted above their dressing room door – "Abandon all hope ye who enter here."

They were on the back of a succession of ODI drubbings that had left them at a loss as to what the plan was, what the best team was and what winning was. Then they actually set a decent total thanks to Joe Root. The young Yorkshireman played the archetypal English ODI innings. He came in with his side at 39-2. He spent some time rebuilding and was well set when he reached his fifty off 68 balls.

From that point onwards he moved up through the gears reaching his second fifty off a further 37 deliveries, bringing up his hundred with a six. It was an innings of class and maturity, two qualities that we have come to expect from Root. The time when there is an England side without him in it are in the distant future. Despite the brilliance of this knock, it still highlighted the difference between the English and Indian approaches.

Root finished his innings with a strike rate of 104, going past a run a ball as he reached his century. Contrast this with the hundred of Suresh Raina at Cardiff. His base strike rate was a run a ball, and he accelerated from there. By the time he had reached three figures his strike rate was well over 130. That is the way a middle order batsman sets up a target in excess of 300, and that is the way England will need to bat if they are to make any inroads at the upcoming World Cup.

Alastair Cook played an Alastair Cook innings. At least the ones that he has been playing since the Champions Trophy last year. He finished with 46 runs off 64 balls before he top edged a sweep shot off the gentle spin of Raina. It is now 16 ODI innings since scored a half century that saw him score at a strike rate of more than 75. He seems aggrieved by people question his place. The easiest way to fix that is for him to do better. There is no one that plays elite sport that should not understand their place in the side being brought into question if they fail to perform.

With a total that was actually defendable it became a different task for England's bowlers. England finally decided to pick Moeen Ali and James Tredwell. While having both Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes in the playing XI is a bit of a luxury, in this match England were closer to their best bowling attack than they have been this summer. When Broad returns you would think he would take one of their spots and England will be as strong in the bowling department as they can be.

England have won, and they have won well, but none of the questions about the approach, personnel or the tactics have been answered. For England to succeed they need to play with more freedom. They need to start caring about every format of international cricket, not just the one that has the most history. There is no doubt that ODIs are flawed. One Day Internationals have so many issues that they would need to spend years in therapy to resolve them all. Even then you would doubt they would be able to maintain a healthy relationship.

However, ODIs remain the way that the World Cup is decided. Until that changes England need to take them seriously. People bang on about context and history, if you can't find those things in a global event with all the top nations playing you have a skewed view on life.

Winning is fantastic, but you don't get the impression that England are any more sure of their best side in this format. This win means that Cook will be on the plane to the ODIs in Sri Lanka, if he goes there he will head to Australia for the tri-series and the World Cup. The rest of the batting order is a subject of massive debate. Will Ravi Bopara make the side? Where will Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler bat? Will Hales be persevered with? There are now eleven games until England take on Australia in the first match of their World Cup. Hopefully some of those questions will be answered by then.

Perhaps Dante should have the final word on England. Brave and attacking cricket is what is needed. The quote from the Italian poet that should be above England's dressing room door should read "Here one must leave behind all hesitation; here every cowardice must meet its death". I am going to buy Peter Moores a copy of the Divine Comedy.

<b>Peter Miller</b>

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