Continuity is nice. It’s like a reassuring hug. It might be boring – and it gives the blogosphere sod all to talk about – but it shows that most things in the garden are rosy and optimism is starting to bloom.
England’s champions trophy squad is one such example. The selectors could have picked a number of budding new players – Liam Livingstone amongst them – but they resisted the temptation to weed out any incumbents. And it was probably the right decision.
The biggest surprise, if one can call it that, is the omission of Steve Finn. The selectors opted for Jake Ball instead. I feel comfortable with this decision. Finn frustrates me more than any England bowler of recent times – primarily because of what he could have been (before his remodelled his action and lost a yard of pace).
Jake Ball, on the other hand, has fewer technical foibles and will probably perform more consistently. I think he’s looked quite promising in his international career to date. In my opinion he deserves his place.
The rest of the squad basically picked itself. The only real talking point is that Sam Billings has been named reserve keeper over Jonny Bairstow. The latter has been included purely as a reserve batsman.
The simple explanation for this decision is that Billings is a better keeper at this point. And you know what, he probably is. It’s just a bit weird that our test keeper is now the third choice white ball stumper. Normally you’d want your test keeper to be the best pure keeper available. I guess it wouldn’t be the England cricket team without a little weirdness.
With several players involved in the ‘IPL’ – I’ve never heard of it either but apparently it’s some kind of T20 competition – some of the guys who missed out on the Champions Trophy squad will get the chance to impress against Ireland. Ben Duckett is the name that stands out to me.
I still think Duckett can be a special player for England in limited overs cricket (and maybe even test cricket too one day) so I’m pleased he’s still in the selectors thoughts. It must have been tempting to include Livingstone, who is obviously flavour of the month, but Duckett has shown great talent in his limited white ball performances for England and the selectors are right to keep faith in him.
Personally, I think Livingstone may get his chance in test cricket before he plays an ODI. After all, our white ball teams have plenty of strength in depth. Our test batting line-up, on the other hand, has more question marks than The Riddler’s favourite suit.
I’ll reveal my thoughts on England’s chances of winning the Champions Trophy down the line. However, I don’t think the selectors have harmed our prospects with this squad. Most of the selections were no-brainers – which is kind of convenient if you suspect our chairman of selectors has no brain.
I will, however, reveal one thought: it’s good to see Mark Wood in the squad. England’s bowling attack is our achilles heel and Wood should provide the pace and wicket-taking potential that South Africa and Australia have in spades. I sure hope he can keep himself fit. We might need him both at the death and in the middle-overs.
Champions Trophy Squad Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
Ireland ODIs Squad Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Ben Duckett, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Mark Wood