@Yas_Wisden 2 minute read
England remain the number one ranked T20I side in the world but their series defeat to India – with the hosts missing Jasprit Bumrah and the tourists winning four out of five tosses – left them with more questions than answers from the five-game contest.
Pressure on Jordan
Chris Jordan has generally saved his best performances in T20 cricket for England in recent times. That trend came to an abrupt halt during the India series as Jordan conceded more than 10 runs an over across the five games.
Regarded as England’s go-to death overs specialist, Jordan has benefitted from his captain’s support even when his output in franchise cricket hasn’t been quite up to the standards he’s reached with England. While it’s to be expected for death-over specialists to go for a few every now and then, it is almost becoming the norm for Jordan, even on England duty; his economy rate has been north of 10 runs per over in eight of his last 14 outings for England T20 cricket.
The form of Tom Curran – England’s established back-up seam bowling option – only compounds England’s growing concerns at the death. The oldest Curran brother has had a poor winter, albeit in difficult circumstances; he was the most expensive overseas bowler to play more than one game in the IPL and went at more than 11 runs per over on England’s tour of South Africa.
England have alternatives outside the players used in India. Reece Topley – who was part of the squad for the India series but didn’t get a game – had an excellent T20 Blast in 2020, Saqib Mahmood was one of the standout players in the curtailed Pakistan Super League and Tymal Mills has one of the best records bowling at the death in world cricket. Though with so few games scheduled before the start of the T20 World Cup, there is little time for said players to establish themselves in the England set-up before the tournament.
What to do with Sam Curran?
Morgan stated that one of the positives England can take from the series defeat was their improved potency with the ball in the powerplay. Part of that success can be attributed to Adil Rashid’s deployment with the new ball, something he had never done in international cricket prior to the series. Rashid’s use in the powerplay sidelined Curran to a peripheral role with the ball. Aside from the second T20I – where Curran opened the bowling with Mark Wood absent through injury – Curran bowled six overs in four games, with Ben Stokes generally preferred in the middle and death overs.
If England continue to use Rashid with the new ball – which they might not as the leg-spinner did take just the one powerplay wicket in the series – Curran feels like somewhat of a spare part in the side. If he’s going to go bowl so few overs, it makes sense to field Moeen Ali – a more destructive batsman – in his stead.
How do England get the best out of Stokes?
Some of the criticism directed at Stokes this series was overblown. He only batted thrice and very nearly took England to victory with a stunning 23-ball 46 in the fourth T20I. Still, there’s still a nagging sense that England are yet to get the absolute best out of Stokes in T20 cricket.
Stokes enjoyed reasonable success opening the batting in the most recent IPL, and it may be that that’s where England can get the best out of him too. England are unlikely to change their opening pair of Jason Roy and Jos Buttler, but moving Stokes up to three with either Malan dropping to four or out of the side altogether is a viable option.
Should England be more flexible with Malan?
England have more pressing concerns than the form of a man who averages over 50 in the format. But, his protracted slow starts are prohibitive when he doesn’t catch up. Equally, it’s fair to question how well he utilises the powerplay. A more fluid batting order that could see either Stokes or maybe even Curran promoted to three in the event of an early dismissal may eke the best out of all involved.
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