Much has been made of skipper Eoin Morgan saying he doesn’t know his strongest side despite only being a matter of months away from the ICC World Twenty20 in India. I think that was a throwaway comment and in reality England are about 90 per cent sure of their best XI.
All 15 members of England’s squad were used during their 3-0 whitewash of Pakistan in the T20 series last month and everyone performed at some stage, which shows the strength in depth and range of options available to them.
The priority for England now is to cement down places before the tournament gets underway in March – they have two scheduled T20 matches remaining, against South Africa this winter.
For me, the openers are nailed on, although I would like to see Jason Roy and Alex Hales become a little bit more consistent as England have a tendency to lose early wickets.
Jos Buttler, Morgan and Moeen Ali, all these sorts of guys, are definitely in the side. The area likely to prove a headache for selectors is the squad’s seam bowling department.
Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes have all done well, while the likes of Liam Plunkett, Steve Finn and Stuart Broad are likely to be in the equation.
I have written previously how important it is for England to find their best death bowlers. It is my view that yorkers, which seem to have gone out of the game a little bit over the years, are still the key ball to bowl. At the end of the day, if you can bowl a really good yorker, in the mould of Mitchell Starc say, it is the hardest delivery for a batsman to attack.
To that end, Woakes and Jordan – as he showed during England’s super-over victory on Monday – are the most consistent at bowling yorkers, particularly in the last four overs of the match, so I would certainly be leaning towards those two.
But whoever the selectors end up picking, it’s key, especially in the shortest form of the game, that all players know their exact roles in the side and what is expected of them.
As a bowler, you want to know roughly what stage of the game you are going to bowl your overs, as it impacts on a whole host of things – the lengths you’re going to bowl, whether you’re going to bowl slower balls.
It is imperative that England learn the lessons of their ill-fated 50-over World Cup earlier this year, when they appeared to be trialling guys right up until the start of the tournament and when push came to shove nobody really had a clue about their role in the side.
England are in a much better place now, and it’s just a case of tinkering with their plans from here on in.