The England One-Day side is as it’s lowest ebb since… well, since it’s last lowest ebb. They seem to come along with increasing regularity these days!
After a damning and humiliating 3-1 thrashing versus India this summer and a 3-2 defeat against Sri Lanka earlier in the year, England have won just 3 of their 9 completed ODI’s this summer. While it’s not particularly startling that England haven’t got a great ODI win percentage, what is shocking is that all of these matches were played in England in supposed favourable home conditions. The myth that England are very accomplished ODI side at home has been well and truly busted over the last 4 months.
With the World Cup only a few months away, and as has been alluded too almost never endingly, it is being played in antipodean conditions. Conditions in which England have had little success in the recent past – a 4-1 drubbing last winter their latest attempt. For this reason I have picked my XI that would line up to face Australia on 14th February at the MCG. I would also take this side to Sri Lanka for the 7 match series that precedes the World Cup and obviously use them for the tri-series warm up alongside India and Australia.
Of course there is time for fluctuating form and fitness to become an issue but barring anything exceptional in the matches leading up to the tournament, this would be my side.
- Alex Hales
The Nottinghamshire opener has been in great form throughout this summer hitting 384 runs from just 5 innings in Royal London One Day Cup. His hard hitting style and no fear approach has seen him win T20’s for England over the past couple of years and a similar approach could see him do the same in the 50-over format. A couple of starts was all he could muster against India this summer in his debut series, but he was crippled by his partner at the other end and there would obviously have been some nerves. But when the first ball is bowled in Melbourne I’d like to see Hales there to face the music and get England off to the flying start they desperately need.
- Jonathan Trott
Definitely my most controversial selection, Trott has not appeared in an England shirt since he left he Ashes tour last winter due to a stress related illness. However, no matter how many people lambasted the role he played in England’s ODI side, for me he was the rock that contributed to a quietly successful period in English One Day cricket. Coupled with his impressive ODI record in Australia – 375 runs at 62.50 and I think Trott is the ideal partner for Hales. I would happily see him batting at three also but in my side he has to open to allow the middle order that I’d want. His consistency was key during his time in the One-Day side, as it allowed stroke players such as Morgan and Pietersen to play their natural games. My final reason for the selection of Trott is purely and simply his form. 486 runs in the One Day Cup is a magnificent return for someone who has spent a significant amount of time out of the game.
- Joe Root
The leader of the new generation of England players, Root would become my lynchpin at number three. His propensity to play off the back foot would be a major advantage on the fast Aussie wickets as well as his often mentioned ‘busy-ness’ at the crease. Root could prove the perfect player at number three, able to bat sensibly if required, he was a Test opener just over a year ago, or push the tempo along with equal ease. His century against India in the recent ODI series was a rare moment of joy for England, and Root’s approach was virtually perfect. Throw his handy off breaks into the mix and you’ve got a versatile and potentially match winning number three at your disposal.
- James Taylor
A man who I can’t begin to understand why he hasn’t played more than just a couple of token ODI’s against Ireland. Taylor is a batsman of rare skill and would have already been a veteran of both the Test and ODI sides for practically every other country. His perceived closeness to KP has certainly not helped him in his cause to get back into the side. But that doesn’t come into it when I’m picking a side to compete at the World Cup. Taylor’s average in List A Cricket is a mightily impressive 53 and that includes 12 centuries from just 97 innings. At number four England are looking for somebody who can change matches with huge scores of 100+ and Taylor is undeniably capable of doing just that. Determined and with a stack of domestic runs behind him, Taylor is very much somebody with a point to prove.
- Eoin Morgan
Morgan is one of England most proven ODI performers over the past 5 years. He has consistently changed the course of matches with a quick-fire cameo or by calmly guiding a run chase. But his career has stalled over the past year or so, averaging just 20 from his last 10 innings. He has been hampered by the perception that he needs to be pushed further up the order so that he can influence games more. Morgan is a player who can influence a match from down at number 5. He is capable of finishing the innings in style but also of resurrecting a top order collapse. Morgan is in my side but he stays at 5.
- Ben Stokes
A somewhat mercurial player since coming into the England side, Stokes has performed rather more with the ball than the bat in his fledgling ODI career thus far. He endured a torrid run of single figure scores earlier this year and his batting has flattered to deceive throughout the summer. However a successful domestic summer, gaining 372 runs at 62 gives him the number six slot in this side. He also has happy memories of batting in Australia after his breathtaking Test hundred at Perth last winter. His bowling will also prove more than useful on the harder decks expected Down Under.
- Jos Buttler
Probably the easiest selection of the lot. Buttler has been in good form this summer and has continued to push on for England in all formats of the game. His sensational hundred against Sri Lanka earlier this year proves that he is a batsmen of the highest calibre and coupled alongside his improving glove work he is fast becoming one the most exciting keeper-batsmen in world cricket. His first two innings in Test cricket also displayed his versatility; able to up the scoring rate and play with abandon on one occasion and then capable of playing cautiously for the benefit of the team in the other.
- Adil Rashid
Rashid is a divisive figure amongst cricket fans and pundits. Some see him as the saviour of English cricket and all their spinning woes, while others just remember the mauling he took 5 years ago in South Africa and his following loss of form. I, rather predictably, sit somewhere in between the two camps. As a pragmatist rather than an idealist, I would actually pick Rashid based on his recent strong domestic performances as opposed to any rose-tinted dewy-eyed love of leg spinners. Rashid has snaffled 21 victims in this year’s One-Day Cup and finished as the leading wicket taker. His batting has also been solid; averaging in excess of 35. At the age of 26, Rashid is now a man who knows his own game inside out and the last thing England need going into a major tournament is a player still finding his feet in the game. His all round qualities and his ability to turn the ball away from the right handers could prove crucial; leg spinners can often pick up cheap wickets too – just look at Scott Borthwick’s Test debut, he didn’t bowl all that well but still picked up 4-82 in the match.
- Stuart Broad
If he’s fit and ready to go on 14th February then Stuart Broad takes the new ball – no questions asked! He is England’s senior ODI bowler these days with Anderson’s powers on the wane. His bowling is ideally suited to the conditions as his successful Ashes series in 2013/14 proves. He has the hostility, pace and thought to dismiss the very finest players in world cricket. His knack of picking up strings of wickets is also invaluable and he is a player who invariably raises his game during high profile matches and when facing the world’s best.
10. James Anderson
Despite his failure to influence matches on Australian pitches with the white ball in the past, I would start the tournament with Anderson in the side. Purely from an experience point of view; he has played in three World Cup’s already and has a wealth of knowledge to fall back on. Having said that, he would be straight out of the side if he began to go at a run a ball in the opening matches. Anderson is at his most dangerous when he is also economical with the ball.
Just kidding! Nobody can be that stupid can they. Can they?
The final member of my ODI XI is the spearhead fast bowler. Steve Finn has endured a pretty torrid 12 months, deemed ‘unselectable’ on the last Ashes tour and banished to the county game to find both form and confidence. But recent performances in the ODI series against India suggest that he is on the right path back and England undeniably need a genuine quick bowler if they are to progress into the knockout stages. Finn has the pace; height and hostility to trouble most top orders and England desperately need him to rediscover his best form this winter.