England Vs. Pakistan Series: What have we learnt so far?

England has won another series. Was this a harbinger of what is to come? I do believe that this was a preview of what we can expect for the World Cup.

The pitches are going to be batting tracks. The scorecards that are to be sold at the World Cup have been reformatted so that it can accommodate scores up to 500 instead of 400. I am slightly sceptical about the amount of 400+ scores that will be scored but I am comfortable with stating that there will be a significant amount of 350+ scores and anything within 330 should be achievable. Scoring eight to ten runs in the first 10 and the last 10 can be achieved. This would leave teams needing a run a ball during the second power play. Scoring over 10 an over in the last eight especially when chasing will be difficult even though the pitch should not change as the innings progresses. This World Cup will be won by the team that have batsmen who can bat with a strike rate of 130% or more, bowlers with economy rates of below six and fielders who can save runs. There will be the need for batsmen that can stabilise in the general consensus is that this would be a World Cup of all-rounders. I do not necessarily agree. Successful teams will have batting depth and a bowling variety. A bowling variety does not necessarily equate to more players bowling. Each bowler should be able to vary their pace and be able to turn one the wrong way. We will see a lot of knuckleballs and off cutters. I am not undermining the importance of taking wickets but batsmen can recover from wickets falling early or in between as long as they have the depth in their batting. The

People outside the U.K. are expecting washed out days. During the winter I commented on social media that we would see extreme weather during the World Cup because we did not have a good winter. I am convinced that this will still be the case although the extreme weather will tend towards heat than rain. I doubt whether there will be any match that if washed out will have a significant impact on which teams make it to the top four. There may be a possibility that the finalists will be decided on Net Run Rate but that should make it more interesting.

I expect that there will be strict enforcement of the playing time so expect captains of teams to be banned for a game or so. Teams may more or less go in with the same playing XI. Expect injuries to players. We can also expect players to be rested for “easier” games. Personally, I do not view any team as walkovers. Discount Afghanistan, Bangladesh and West Indies at your own peril. Pakistan may have lost to England 4-0 but I am sure that they will beat some of the top teams.

These warm-up series are usually difficult to play. There is a huge balancing act that has to take place between winning the series, testing combinations including the bench strength, trying to whittle down 17 people to 15. England has had a stable unit for some time. Then those carefully stacked blocks started to unravel like a game of Jenga. Chris Jordan did extremely well in the T20 against West Indies. Jofra Archer qualified to play for England. Alex Hales was dropped for failing drug tests. Ben Stokes did not do well in the IPL. Joe Denly played only one ball in the IPL. He has not done well with either bat or ball in the Pakistan series.

I am befuddled as to the reason why Chris Jordan was selected in the 17 that were chosen for Ireland and Pakistan. The first problem that England had to solve was the inclusion or exclusion of Jofra Archer. It was rather idiotic to add another bowler to the mix. This would confound the pace bowling options further. Liam Dawson’s name was in the mix. England would have been better off getting him into the 17 instead of Jordan so that he could also be tested. If Joe Denly is dropped and Dawson is picked then he still can play in the two warm up games. It will not be as good as playing in the series against Pakistan. Something is better than nothing. Even then I don’t think those games are going to be easy. Eoin Morgan mentioned that the final 15 was not decided and all of the people present would have some role to play during the World Cup.

This would be the team that I would pick for World Cup

  1. Jason Roy
  2. Jonny Bairstow
  3. Joe Root
  4. Eoin Morgan
  5. Ben Stokes
  6. Jos Buttler
  7. Moeen Ali
  8. Chris Woakes
  9. Adil Rashid
  10. Jofra Archer
  11. Mark Wood
  12. Tom Curran
  13. James Vince
  14. Liam Plunkett
  15. Liam Dawson

Roy, Bairstow, Root, Morgan, Stokes, Buttler, Ali and Rashid were dead certainties in the side. My bowling preference would be Woakes, Archer and Wood. Archer has the pace. The reaction time for Archer is about .05 milliseconds less than average pacer. This may not seem like much but it makes all the difference. David Willey does not make the cut because I think that Wood and Woakes are better than Willey. Tom Curran has done extremely well. I believe that he will add more value than Willey. Vince has been a suitable replacement for Hales and I believe he can bat anywhere in the order if one of the batsmen gets injured. The problem with Denly is that there is a mismatch between what is expected of him and what he is capable of doing. It kind of reminds me of how Moeen Ali was in the initial days until he was able to properly define himself. It is for this reason I would like to see ECB take a risk and choose Dawson instead of Denly. The selectors have been extremely lucky in their selection. Hopefully they will be able to do the same this time too. It is a matter of hours till the team is announced. I will comment further when the team is formally announced.

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