What’s next for England?


England cruised to victory in the final One Day International at the Rose Bowl in Hampshire to secure a 4-0 victory in the five-match series.

Set a modest 289 to win by the West Indies, the home side barely needed to get out of second gear, losing just one wicket as Jonny Bairstow made an unbeaten century and opener Jason Roy managed 96.

The win completes a great summer for the England cricket team, who have won 11 of their 13 One Day International games, as well as the Test series against South Africa and the West Indies. The next time that they will play will be the first Ashes Test in Brisbane in November – so how are things shaping up for the Three Lions?

Stokes scandal

The main talking point in cricket at the moment is the furore surrounding all-rounder Ben Stokes. The Durham player has probably been England’s most consistent performer with bat and ball in 2017, and was considered to be integral to the Three Lions’ hopes of retaining the Ashes down under.

However, his involvement in the tour – along with that of teammate Alex Hales – is now in serious doubt after footage emerged of Stokes assaulting a man outside a Bristol nightclub. Stokes and Hales have both been suspended by the England and Wales Cricket Board until further notice, though Stokes’ name remains in the 16-man squad. The issue facing the cricketing authorities now is, do they punish their vice-captain for his behaviour and risk England losing in Australia, or do they choose to conveniently turn a blind eye to what happened? The next month or so will provide us with the answer.

Selection issues

England have six players who can fairly be labelled “world class” in their positions: opener Alastair Cook, captain Joe Root, all-rounders Stokes and Moeen Ali and bowlers Stuart Broad – as highlighted in this 888sport blog – and James Anderson. The problem is that coach Trevor Bayliss has yet to settle on the names of the other five.

Who partners Cook at the top of the order has been a perennial issue since the retirement of Andrew Strauss in 2012. Surrey’s Mark Stoneman has been picked in the squad but is a relative novice at this level, as are middle-order pair James Vince and Dawid Malan, who will battle it out for the number five slot. Yorkshiremen Gary Ballance and Jonny Bairstow round out the batting line-up, though the former has had much-documented issues with his technique at international level, while the latter is a reliable batsman – as evidenced by his century against the West Indies – but can sometimes experiences lapses as a wicket-keeper.

When it comes to the bowlers, Chris Woakes will probably be the third-choice seamer, but after that, Jake Ball, Mason Crane and Craig Overton are virtually unproven at Test level.

Despite a promising summer, England still have issues that need to be resolved if they are to avoid yet another embarrassing whitewash down under.