England suffered a heavy loss to Australia in the first match of their ODI series. With much of their first-choice squad unavailable for selection, an ODI XI of players not currently in their squad would be an intimidating prospect for any side in the world to face.
The much lauded strength in depth in English white-ball cricket was tested to its limits in the first ODI against Australia, with players unavailable for selection due to the upcoming Test series in Pakistan and rested after their victorious T20 World Cup final. Although it is becoming less and less feasible for players to represent their country in all three formats on a regular basis, the volume of international cricket being played means even their white-ball specialists have to operate on a rest-and-rotation policy.
With this in mind, an ODI XI of players currently unavailable for selection including those injured and (currently) retired looks more like an England side which could line up for their first World Cup match in India next year than the side in Australia.
Jonny Bairstow (wk)
If it wasn’t for his broken leg, Bairstow would have been a key part of England’s T20 World Cup campaign. He is now among the first names on the team sheet for England in all formats, and would walk into pretty much any limited-overs side in the world. He averages 46.58 in ODI cricket, striking at over a run a ball with 11 centuries. Being a high-class wicket keeper is also very useful in the absence of Jos Buttler, who is captaining the side in Australia, with no second-string keeper having to fit into the side in the place of a specialist batter.
Finally back in England’s good books after his three-year exile, the next logical step for Alex Hales’ reintegration would be to regain his spot at the top of the order in ODIs. Until his exclusion for a failed drugs test he was set to be a part of the 2019 World Cup campaign, and was part of the core group of players in Eoin Morgan’s white-ball revamp after 2015. He has six centuries and 14 fifties for England and with Jason Roy’s continued poor run of form, he could well find his name back in the hat for the second opener’s spot.
A true great of the ODI format, when available Root is the lynchpin of England’s batting order. With 16 hundreds, the effortlessness with which he ticks along at a run a ball makes him a reassuring presence in the side.
Ben Stokes (c)
It’s quite a journey for a player to go from retiring to captaining a side in a few months, but with Buttler unavailable Stokes is the obvious choice to fill the role. He’ll just have to be persuaded to retract his notice first.
A sensation in Pakistan and then underwhelming in the T20 World Cup. Brook has had an up-and-down start to his international white-ball career but his talent and potential is undeniable. A true 360-degree player and with a World Cup winners medal around his neck at the age of 23, he should be a part of England’s future for a long time. Although yet to make his debut in ODI colours, he captained the under-19 side in the 2018 World Cup, becoming the second ever England captain to score a century in the competition after Alastair Cook. He could make a push for first-choice selection over the coming months.
He’s still searching for consistency, but as a finisher and explosive lower-order batter they don’t come much more powerful than Livingstone. The 12 ODIs he’s played so far have given him an average of 31.25, but it’s his strike rate of 122.54 which England will value at No.6. The fifty he scored against the Netherlands earlier this year, the fastest for England in the format, was a brutal display of power hitting and timing, and showed the value he can have at the end of the innings. If he wasn’t selected in the Test squad to tour Pakistan, he’d surely currently be in England’s XI.
Another uncapped player in this XI, Jacks has been earmarked as a future England talent for several years. His 48-ball 108 in the Hundred and 22-ball 44 against Pakistan in the recent T20I series shows his promise in the shorter format of the game. Providing another off-spin option is another tick next to his name, picked as a second spinner for England in the Pakistan Tests. They view him as more than a part timer; with no Moeen Ali or Adil Rashid, he’s allows England to play an extra bowler without compromising their batting.
With the constant caveat of ‘if fit’, as long as the positive signs of Archer’s recovery from multiple injuries continue there is no reason why he shouldn’t be in England’s XI for their World Cup title defence. Already on 30 wickets having played just 17 ODIs, if his wicket-taking capability and pace has not been affected by his two-year absence from international cricket, England will have a huge asset back in their squad.
Statistically England’s fastest-ever bowler, regardless of who else available Wood is another who walks into the team. Good with the new ball and extracting pace in the middle overs, he fills a valuable role in the side. The bowling attack looked fairly tame in the first ODI against Australia, missing the entirety of their frontline attack. Wood injects venom into the line-up and will be back in once his Test duties are over.
Adil Rashid is obviously an ever-present in England’s limited-overs bowling attack, his performance in the T20 World Cup showing his continued class and value, but Parkinson is the next wrist-spinner in the ranks. Moving past the ‘he bowls too slowly’ conversation, the turn he can get and tendency to bowl absolute rippers can’t be discounted. With Liam Dawson continually filling in as England’s back-up slow bowler, however, he faces an uphill battle to break into the first-string side.
Topley’s late bloom has seen him become a major part of England’s white-ball plans, heartbreakingly injured days before the T20 World Cup began. He had a good summer in ODI colours against India and South Africa, taking six-fer at Lord’s against India, and finally nailed down a claim to be England’s first choice left-armer. At 6 foot 7, he offers height beyond which either Sam Curran or David Willey can, as well as pace.
Who would win between the XI in Australia and the ‘unavailable’ XI?
England’s unavailable XI have surely got this one in the bag. The one area that the XI facing Australia have to their advantage is the spin department, but that aside, with three 2019 World Cup winners in the top six and Mark Wood and Jofra Archer leading the attack, this could well be a blowout.