STAR PREVIEW Thurs: England v Ireland with RYAN SIDEBOTTOM

England v Ireland
1st ODI, ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League
Ageas Bowl, Southampton
Thursday, 30th July
Live from 1:30pm on Sky Sports Cricket HD & Test Match Special

Test Series Review

First things first, congratulations to Stuart Broad – today he took his 500th test wicket after having Kraigg Braithwaite absolutely plum. In typical broady fashion, it was a huge wicket – Braithwaite can eat up overs and it’s a proper blow to strike in the first hour’s play, and a big part of England’s win, which landed a 2-1 correct score punt and a nice profit – thanks to everyone who’s red so far!

It’s been a brilliant series, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the West Indies for willing to come over and take part – and they’ve made it a real contest to enjoy for all fans.

The circumstances have played their part a good deal – lockdown has meant that the two sides went into the series with very little gametime between them and practically none in the case of the West Indies, and I think that contributed to a slow start for England in particular (although we have a habit of doing such a thing). That said, the West Indies were awesome in Southampton and fully deserved their victory.

England responded well mentally to that defeat in the second test. Yes, Ben Stokes proved to be the inspiration but a whole team effort was needed to break the visitors down, and the scoreboard doesn’t show how stubborn Shamarh Brooks and Roston Chase were in the first innings, nor Brooks and Blackwood in the second there.

At the time of writing England are in control on the final day – they need five wickets and the weather to play ball – and that’s a huge credit to the old guard of Stokes, Broad and Anderson.

The West Indians have bowled brilliantly – it’s a shame that Kemar Roach didn’t get his due rewards for his bowling until the last test, but Shannon Gabriel’s put in a superhuman effort to lead the attack whilst Roston Chase’s kept his head up despite having some tough spells. Things didn’t quite go Raheem Cornwall’s way but he’ll bounce back – I can’t wait for the series against Pakistan now!

England Performances – Batsmen

Ed Smith copped a lot of flak for his opening test selection – and selections generally – but he’s had his faith repaid in batting terms over the whole series. Once again Ben Stokes lead the line but there have been fairly consistent runs (and big scores) from Rory Burns and Dom Sibley as openers, whilst Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler’s scores couldn’t have come at a better time in the first innings.

Joe Root’s quick fire 67 will give him a lot of confidence going forward and Stuart Broad looked back to his old self with the bat when pulling England out of a hole a coulee of days ago – all things told, England look in a decent place with the bat.

England Performances – Bowlers

What more can one say about Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad? They’re exceptional bowlers and we’re lucky to have them. There’s a lot of competition for the third and fourth bowling slots, however – this is what I made of the other bowlers:

Jofra Archer – He’s obviously a hugely talented bowler. He’s still learning – we forget how young he is, and how quickly he’s risen to the top. In terms of his and development, playing alongside Broad and Anderson will bring him on much more quickly than any other combination.

He’s got all the natural attributes to be a great, but Chis Silverwood will want to see him put his different talents together properly. Archer compliments Anderson and Broad well by challenging the bowler in a different way, but going forward the management will want to see him consistently challenge the stumps and find some more consistency with his line and length. However, the sky’s the limit and he remains an incredibly exciting prospect who we need to treat well.

Chris Woakes – He’s a no nonsense option for England. He goes under the radar a lot compared to others, and he can be forgotten about – however for me they are always the best players to have around, especially in test matches, and his spell today to confirm victory will do him a huge amount of good mentally too, and hopefully Southampton and the questions about selection will be a distant memory. Given his age relative to Broad and Anderson – and relative to Curran and Archer – he’ll lead the England attack I’m sure and he’ll do a great job of it. We can expect to see him given more bowling time against Pakistan too.

Sam Curran – He’s proven to be invaluable during this series, and in his test record he has a knack of taking wickets at the right time – like in the second test when he used the seam position brilliantly to break down the West Indian middle order.

Dom Bess – He’s improving all the time and he’ll benefit a good bit for getting a run in the side. Bowling offpsin is a hard job in test cricket – batsmen attack so much these days and you can get an absolute battering – and it’s too soon to judge him.

ODI Series Preview

There’s been a few changes to the side we saw win the World Cup given the packed schedule, but it still looks a very strong team, and they’ve brought a couple of left armers in to boot in the shape of Reece Topley and David Willey to balance the bowling attack too.

England are deservedly strong favourites at 2/5 with, but they must not underestimate Ireland. Andrew Balbirnie is an excellent skipper and he leads a side that’s got plenty of experience with Paul Stirling, William Porterfield, and Kevin O’Brien making a strong core. Andrew Balbirnie and young gun Harry Tector all made half centuries against the England Lions with the bat, even if their bowlers couldn’t stop England from knocking off that total with ease.

It’s great that England have young players who can come in and challenge for places – they might be short on experience, but they’ve played plenty of Big Bash and IPL cricket in the lead up to this and they’ve shown the right mentality in big moments to make the step up. With the much changed schedule meaning the World Cup has been delayed, now’s the perfect time to give them their chance to shine.

ODI Series Preview

I’d expect Jason Roy and Johnny Bairstow to play an even bigger part than usual with the changes made. They are used to setting the platform for England time and again and give us a settled opening partnership that has put nearly every team in ODI cricket aside.

There might be more value in Tom Banton for the top run scorer honours, however. He’d been out of form until a very welcome 57 not out in the practice match, and with that behind him he can kick on – his gung ho style reminds one of Jos Buttler when he was emerging onto the main stage and 5/1 on him being the top series runscorer for England could be a bit of value.

Speaking of value, 16/1 was also big for Moeen Ali to be the top runscorer. Ali, who hit a much needed 85 in a warmup game against Team Buttler when captaining his own side, has struggled a bit but could be much better for the warmups under his belt and he could make hay with decent weather conditions predicted – the gap between him and the top order batsmen is too big.

With several of the experienced bowlers being kept for the test series, Saqib Mahmood – who was moved from the wider test squad to take a role here – could benefit and he could be value to be the top wicket taker here. Still a very young talent, his powerful physique and impressive pace will stand him in good stead going forward and he can grab this change with both hands.

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BACK Saqib Mahmood Top England Series Bowler 1 pt at 4/1 with

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