In one-day cricket, we’re clearly a lot closer to where we want to be than where we are in Test match cricket.
Bowling can be improved
In the ODIs, had they had a full-strength team out, especially in the bowling, they’d have won that series quite handsomely. No offence to Reece Topley and Sam Curran but there’s a big difference between those two opening the bowling versus Mark Wood and Jofra Archer doing it.
When you consider too that the middle order barely scored a run the ODIs and yet they still went to the latter stages of a deciding game against India in India, that’s pretty impressive stuff. There have been lots of positive moments to take away from the white-ball leg of this tour. You might be disappointed at the middle order – but no one should be worried about that list of players not coming good at the right time.
I still think England are the best team in the world even though they’ve just lost that series. The death bowling could be improved but no team’s death bowling is any good with the size of the grounds going around at the moment.
Someone tried to tell me that there’s pressure on Eoin Morgan too because he didn’t get many runs but I’m not having that for a second. He revolutionised English white-ball cricket and his mindset is perfect for the T20 team and the ODI side. He’s only 34 as well – and if Valentino Rossi can still be thrilling us all on a motorbike at 41 then Morgs has got years left in him.
Let Wood play all formats whenever he can
India got their biggest total of the series when Woody didn’t play and it really brought into sharp focus just how good he has been for the last five weeks. There has been some talk about Woody as a white-ball specialist but I really don’t subscribe to that point of view. When you’ve got a bowler as talented as that, why wouldn’t you want to use him as much as you can?
Obviously they’ve got to keep him fit and he doesn’t have a great track record with injuries, but if there’s a wicket that they think he will be effective on, it shouldn’t matter if the ball is red, white or pink. He’s just as deadly with all three. Rest him when he needs rest, not because there’s a Test series on.
If you’re playing a Test and think he could be the best bowler in this Test, play him. I don’t see a problem with having a pool of bowlers you can dip into: Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson, Archer, Wood, Woakes, just to name a few. They’ve got a decent stable at the moment, so why not pick the right horse for the right course?
Bairstow the biggest confidence player I know
I loved watching Jonny Bairstow back in the runs. In the nicest possible way, he is quite a fragile soul and he does take things to heart when it’s not going well. He got some fearful criticism after the Test series and I felt for him because just as he was in good form and needing that confidence to flow from Sri Lanka, he was walking his dog on the moors in the snow.
This time he was blisteringly confident. His hundred might have been overshadowed a tad by Ben Stokes’ blitz, but it was a phenomenal knock, as was his 90 in the first game. He’s a bloody good player, in one-day cricket more than anything, yes partly because the white ball doesn’t do as much as the red but also because he approaches it with an outward confidence that he doesn’t currently have in Test cricket.
I think it’s because white-ball cricket is a more comfortable environment for him – he averages nearly 50 in ODIs for England – and he’s as much a confidence player as anyone I’ve ever played with or against. It’s the same in red-ball when he goes and plays for Yorkshire; he scores heaps of runs for them because he’s comfortable and confident in that environment. In Test cricket I think the selectors have used him as an in and out player, I don’t think that has helped him at all.
If it’s a case of let him blitz everyone in the one-day stuff until we get to Australia and face the Kookaburra ball then pick him there for the Test side, then so be it – but I hope he gets more than that. I want him playing all forms for England. He’s good enough.
Rightful second-favourites for the T20 World Cup
With Wood and Archer at the top, England are looking better and better as a T20 team. I still don’t think they quite got it right with the team selection in the T20 in India, though.
Moeen Ali is vastly overlooked in T20 cricket and I want to see two spinners in the team because that’s what they will need to win the T20 World Cup. England are a work in progress who could beat anyone on our day but that bowling balance needs to be right.
I think if we see Stokesy come out and bat like that in the World T20, and inspire everyone around him to do the same, we could be strong candidates. India will always be favourites on home soil, but England should be contenders.