England’s T20 series in West Indies: Pressure on Morgan and death bowling woes
England were edged out at the last by Jason Holder’s four wickets in four balls as the West Indies prevailed 3-2 in their five-match Twenty20 series at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at a much-changed England’s campaign.
Pressure on Morgan
Eoin Morgan is unquestionably one of England’s greatest captains whose shrewd thinking can still tilt the outcome of a match, but is the mastermind of the 2019 50-over World Cup win still worth his place in the side? He is without a half-century in 18 innings dating back to August 2020. The left-hander’s career has had plenty of ups and downs in form but he looked scratchy in making 30 off 41 balls in his two innings before a low grade quad injury ruled him out of the series. He will be 36 if, as expected, he leads England to the T20 World Cup this year in Australia but might just be looking over his shoulder as his side’s batting stocks increased in the Caribbean.
Death bowling crisis?
After Jimmy Neesham swung momentum in New Zealand’s favour in last year’s T20 World Cup semi-final, there has been scrutiny on England’s death bowling. Chris Jordan has been Morgan’s go-to at the end of an innings for several years but he and left-armer Tymal Mills had an economy rate in double figures as the Windies routinely piled on the runs late on. Reece Topley, back in a T20 international shirt after six injury-plagued years away, went at seven an over, no mean feat as he largely featured at the front and back end so it is not all doom and gloom while England, without several batting and bowling options following the Ashes, have options to come back in. Jofra Archer, meanwhile, is on the comeback trail as he regularly trained with England a month after a second elbow operation.
Adil Rashid went to the top of England’s T20 wicket-taker charts with two for 17 in the series decider, moving him on to 81 scalps as he leapfrogged team-mate Jordan. Rashid, ranked fourth in the world in the format behind fellow wrist-spinners Wanindu Hasaranga, Tabraiz Shamsi and Adam Zampa, took seven for 115 across the Bridgetown contests. He finished with a superb economy rate of 5.75, as a powerhouse Windies batting unit treated him with a large dollop of circumspection, routinely putting the brakes on after the six-over powerplay. England’s premier leg-break bowler was ably supported by Liam Livingstone, whose mix and match spin continues to exceed expectations.
Mixed experienced for those on the fringes
With Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes resting after the Ashes and the likes of Sam and Tom Curran nursing injuries, there were opportunities for those on the periphery to stake a claim. Tom Banton and James Vince sparkled briefly, as did Phil Salt on his T20 bow, but Harry Brook and George Garton had international debuts to forget. Sam Billings, hardly fresh after switching continents and formats to play here, fared OK while there were even a couple of matches for perennial squad member Liam Dawson. David Payne, one of four left-armers in the 17-strong group, was the only squad member to go unused across the series.
How did the players rate?
Jason Roy 6 (out of 10), Tom Banton 5, James Vince 5, Eoin Morgan 4, Moeen Ali 6, Liam Livingstone 5, Sam Billings 6, Phil Salt 6, Harry Brook 2, Liam Dawson 5, George Garton 3, Chris Jordan 5, Adil Rashid 8, Reece Topley 7, Tymal Mills 4, Saqib Mahmood 4.
Rally round the West Indies
After the defence of their T20 World Cup crown ended with a whimper three months ago in the United Arab Emirates, including being bowled out for 55 by England in Dubai, the Windies have moved on from Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo. A new-look team warmed up for England’s visit with a one-day series defeat against Ireland but were worthy winners in Barbados. Holder, on his home ground, stood out with 15 wickets and an economy rate of 7.78 while Rovman Powell’s brutal hitting brought him a maiden T20 ton in the standout innings of the series.
Not even an alleged rift between all-rounder Odean Smith and captain Kieron Pollard – denied by the Windies – could derail the hosts.
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