@Yas_Wisden 3 minute read
England secured a memorable cleansweep over a full-strength Pakistan side with an entirely ‘new’ squad after a COVID-19 outbreak ruled out the group originally picked for the series.
The three-match series saw England hand out five ODI debuts with a host of players lacking international experience stepping up to the plate and then some. Yas Rana looks at a handful of talking points from the series.
Young Lancs bowlers deserve more of a shot
Saqib Mahmood deservedly won the Player of the Series award after taking nine wickets – a joint England record in a home bilateral three-match series – while his Lancashire teammate Matt Parkinson caught the eye, too, finishing the series with five wickets, including one record-breaking ripper to dismiss Imam-ul-Haq in the finale. Had the four chances dropped off Parkinson’s bowling been taken, he would also have finished the series with nine.
Eoin Morgan has been frustratingly stubborn with his team selection of late, and Mahmood is one player in particular who, in an ideal world, we’d know more of as an international bowler by this point in his career.
Tom Curran, two years Mahmood’s senior, has played 45 more games for England than the Lancashire quick. After such an impactful series, Mahmood deserves regular game-time. Both Mahmood and Parkinson will only grow as bowlers with more exposure to international cricket.
Rotation encouraged, maybe even necessary
With a white-ball global event pencilled into the calendar every year for the next decade, there are minimal opportunities to press the reset button in the way England did so memorably in 2015. England are obviously in a vastly different position in 2021 than the one they were in 2015, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no need to blood in the next crop of white-ball stars.
Mahmood and Parkinson aside, Phil Salt, Zak Crawley and Brydon Carse – all 25 or under – were excellent, while James Vince, Lewis Gregory, Dawid Malan and Craig Overton all made significant contributions at one point or another during the series. With the international calendar as packed as it is and with England now increasingly sure of their place at the 2023 World Cup, there will be opportunities for rotation in the next year or so. And as Stokes’ England showed this series, you can be sure that the crop below the first team will be capable of stepping up when called upon.
James Vince, Ashes bolter?
It was worth the wait. More than six years after he first played for England, James Vince has his first international hundred. It was a sumptuous one, too. He expertly marshalled a tricky run chase with Lewis Gregory and finally showed what we’ve known that he’s been capable of producing in international cricket. That said, England’s pool of white-ball players is so deep that it’s not inconceivable that that innings may be Vince’s last in an England shirt.
England’s white-ball top-order is so stacked that it may be that Test cricket is where he finds a spot after all. Going off one innings is premature, but England aren’t exactly spoilt for choice in the batting department and Vince, it’s worth remembering, by no means disgraced himself in his second stint as a Test cricketer before being completely sidelined during the Ed Smith era. It’s a question at least worth asking.
Pakistan playing a different game altogether
A 3-0 defeat to a second string England side has not gone down well. The final game highlighted the existing differences in the two sides’ respective approaches. Pakistan, perhaps exercising more caution than usual after their low totals in the first two games, crawled to a score of 65-1 after 18 overs, taking just 35 from the powerplay. England, meanwhile, raced to a flier ending the powerplay on 84 despite losing both openers. Ahead of the rate from the get-go, England could bat without unnecessary risk as the field spread out. Pakistan failed to capitalise on the easiest period of the innings to score runs and while they did superbly to still post 331, that was pretty much as many runs they could have got after their sedate start. Against teams like England, even this England, you need to aim higher.