England have become one of the top three one-day sides in the world during the last 18 months or so and the upcoming limited-overs matches against West Indies, which start with Saturday’s Twenty20 international at Durham, are a good opportunity to continue that momentum.
West Indies generally prefer the white ball and, like Pakistan, are capable of beating anybody when they play well. It’ll be great to see Chris Gayle, one of my top three players to watch, and Marlon Samuels, whose rivalry with Ben Stokes has been entertaining, back in the fold.
It’s also a chance for the likes of Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and, if he plays, Jason Roy to put their names in the hat for the Ashes. If anyone can score two or three hundreds in the five-match one-day series it will give the selectors something to think about.
Although Hales and Buttler haven’t scored millions of runs in county cricket, they have shown character on the big stage. If you’re scoring a lot at international level against good pace bowling it suggests you can do so in Australia, where it won’t swing or seam.
On those flatter pitches Roy can take a game away from you. In the last series Down Under, England were very negative and usually got bowled out for around 150. The way to go is to be positive; it gives the Aussies something to think about when you come back at them.
Ashes places remain up for grabs in the batting line-up despite England’s comfortable series-clinching win in the third Test. Mark Stoneman and Tom Westley didn’t get massive scores but played well in the second innings after neither did anything in the first.
Stoneman and Westley haven’t nailed down their places but, in my opinion, are both good players and were picked for a reason. Sometimes you just need to give these guys time. It’s very difficult to say what direction the selectors will go in.
A nine-wicket victory at Lord’s was a positive way to finish their last Test match before heading to Australia and, while expected, took some bottle after their defeat in the second Test. That said, it’s a slight concern how cheaply England were bowled out in the first innings.
It was fantastic to see Jimmy Anderson take his 500th wicket and career-best figures, showing his class and just how good he is with the Duke’s ball.
The bowling unit has suffered something of a blow with the departure of Ottis Gibson, however. When a bowling coach with that much experience who has been around the dressing room so long leaves – Gibson is taking over the South Africa team – it is always a big loss.
I worked with him a lot when he arrived for his first stint in 2007 and the likes of Anderson and Stuart Broad have collaborated with him for a long time now.
I don’t think Gibson’s exit will necessarily harm England’s Ashes chances, though. When we won there in 2010-11 we had David Saker and it wasn’t so much his coaching that helped win us as his knowledge of the Australian players, his tactical nous and ideas. That, ultimately, is what you want from your bowling coach. Hopefully whoever replaces Gibson will be able to offer the same.