Here’s a question for you. Do you think scheduling this short ODI series in the West Indies makes it more likely that England will win the Champions Trophy? Personally I don’t think it makes a rat’s arse of difference. If anything it probably hinders our chances. Surely the likes of Joe Root and Ben Stokes would be better served by having a breather after a busy winter?
Let’s face it. The conditions in the West Indies are totally different to England in May and June; therefore this mini series serves no purpose whatsoever in terms of preparation.
In years gone by a series like this might have served some purpose. That’s because England rarely had a settled XI and usually needed all the preparation time they could get to try out various combinations.
On this occasion, however, everyone knows what this England side is: we’re very good at batting but the bowling is average at best. What’s more, we pretty much know the potential of all the individuals involved (except perhaps for Sam Billings). All the other squad members are known quantities at this point with enough games under their belt.
One clear benefit of the 1st ODI in Antigua, however, is that it’s given Eoin Morgan another opportunity to flaunt his rediscovered mojo. Morgan might have been under huge pressure in different circumstances – especially now that Joe Root provides a clear alternative as captain – but he’s found a rich vein of form just at the right time.
It’s impossible not to feel really pleased for Eoin. I used to rate him highly. In the first three years of his career I thought he was one of the best white ball players in the world and certainly one of the best England (or should that be Ireland?) had produced. However, in recent times I think he’s looked a different player: one who was somewhat tentative and unsure of his game.
I really feared we’d never see the old Eoin ever again. Where had the old swagger gone? I even advocated dropping him for James Taylor and / or Ben Duckett. I won’t repeat this folly again … at least while he keeps batting like he did yesterday. It was a really mature innings. He read the pitch and situation perfectly, played himself in, and then accelerated at the death. Classic stuff.
I was always confident England would defend their useful total of 296 on this pitch. The West Indies are bad, really bad, at 50 over cricket – which is weird because they’re obviously World T20 champions. The last time I looked they are second bottom of the rankings (with only Zimbabwe behind them) which is quite depressing not only for their long suffering fans but for world cricket in general.
England put them away clinically yesterday – despite losing a toss that looked quite important at the time – and I guess this will build extra confidence in our squad. Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes, who both picked up four wickets, will feel pretty happy with life. However, if I was Joe Root, I’d much prefer to be resting up with my wife and new baby back in Blighty.
After all, what do runs and wickets in the Caribbean actually prove at this stage? The whole tour feels a tad unnecessary. It’s almost like the England team have become some revenue generating band of globetrotters. Excuse my cynicism.