With the fifth day of the 3rd test effectively a washout, the big news yesterday was the announcement of England’s limited overs squads to play Sri Lanka. The ODI squad was pretty much as expected, but the T20 squadron contains a couple of interesting names.
First let’s look at the 50 over squad. It’s pretty much the same team that lost to South Africa, but certainly didn’t disgrace themselves, a few months ago. The only real change is Jonny Bairstow coming in for the retired James Taylor. I don’t think too many will argue with that decision.
The main talking point is the continued absence of Stuart Broad. It’s quite an interesting situation. I don’t mind that Broady isn’t playing because it’s good for him to rest after a test series. We want him fresh, fit and firing for the test series against Pakistan.
However, Broad hasn’t been omitted because he’s being rested. He simply hasn’t been picked; therefore the selectors do no think he’s one of the best five 50-over seam bowlers in the country. Am I the only one who thinks this is a little odd?
Broad is surely head and shoulders above the likes of Willey and Jordan. Broad has told the media that he wants to play ODIs but the selectors obviously prefer other cricketers. Personally, when the Champions Trophy and the World Cup come round, I’d like Broad to lead the attack. Wickets are crucial in ODIs. Perhaps England’s management disagree.
I’m also slightly surprised that Jake Ball isn’t in the party. Having being named in the test squad, I assumed the selectors might see the ODIs as an ideal opportunity to see what he can do on the international stage. Instead they’ve kept faith with guys like Chris Jordan, who hasn’t really nailed down a place after 27 outings.
The T20 squad was always going to be a little more interesting because Hales, Root and Moeen have been rested. That means there was more opportunity to look at new faces. As it happens, the new faces include Dawid Malan and the much talked about Tymal Mills, who is the fastest bowler in county cricket.
Let’s deal with Malan first. Although some might see this selection as a little leftfield, Malan did really well in T20 cricket for the Lions during the winter. He’s also been earmarked as a potential England player (particularly in limited overs cricket) for some time. His record in first class cricket isn’t outstanding but his 50 over and T20 stats are pretty good. I’m not at all surprised that England have decided to have a look at him – especially as he plays for Middlesex. Ahem.
As for Mills, I imagine his performance for Sussex against Somerset in the Blast a few days ago caught the eye. He bowled very quickly, added some good slower balls for variation, and cleaned up a somewhat rattled Chris Gayle.
Because he bowls so quickly, Mills has been touted as an international player for some time. The truth is, however, that his career has been one big disappointment so far. His first class average is 37 and his list A average is 36. Injuries certainly haven’t helped him. In fact, he has a congenital back condition that has already forced him to retire from the longer form of the game.
However, it could well be that Mills finds a niche in T20 cricket, where his stats are outstanding: he takes his wickets at 21 and has an economy of 8. Because he only has to bowl four overs, Mills can bend his back (if you forgive the expression), shake up the opposition, and then have a good rest. Everybody wins … expect the batting side of course.
It will be interesting to see if Mills can have a similar impact to Shaun Tait, who is the most obvious example of a genuinely quick, injury-prone, T20 specialist. I certainly hope so. He’s great fun to watch.
The final name we should probably talk about is Liam Dawson, who seems to be maturing quite nicely at Hampshire. Although Dawson isn’t an entirely new name, this time he’s the only spinner in the squad; therefore he’s expected to play.
A few years ago, Dawson bowled nothing more than innocuous darts. I look forward to seeing how he’s improved his game. He’s also a useful batsman. In fact, batting always used to be his primary suit.
ODI squad Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Chris Jordan, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, James Vince, David Willey, Chris Woakes
T20 squad Eoin Morgan (capt), Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Liam Dawson, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Tymal Mills, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, James Vince, David Willey