In their six-wicket victory over the Netherlands in Amstelveen yesterday, England didn’t need to demonstrate their ability to set world record targets like the 498-4 they did in the opening One Day International on Friday.
Instead they showed their ability to chase down a modest total, in a reduced number of overs due to the weather, of 235 to seal their first series win under new limited overs head coach Matthew Mott.
Unlike the Test side – where the regime change demanded an upturn in results – the shorter, limited overs format of the game has been one in which England have excelled over the last decade.
Their test in an inaugural tour to the Netherlands wasn’t whether they could win or by how much – no disrespect to the Dutch – it was whether they could diversify their player pool whereby any further clashes with the Test team will
begin to cause fewer and fewer headaches.
And despite the lack of Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and others in the side, this England team – with just a singular change made between the two matches – looked settled.
In right-hander Phil Salt, Mott’s side have no doubt found a long-term opener; his 122 in the opening ODI followed up by a secure 77 yesterday were solid. His opening partner Jason Roy improved on his score of 1 in the opening match to post 73 yesterday.
Captain Eoin Morgan registered his second naught of the series, however, but while that will be disappointing, England know he has the skills to find form pretty quickly.
Dawid Malan, Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone all contributed well throughout the series scoring a combined 393 runs thus far – albeit Livingstone’s knock of four yesterday was well below his ability.
The rain, the pitch, losing the toss and the limited number of overs all played into how England performed yesterday – which was below their impeccable best but enough to win.
But the one-day side look steady, especially as the domestic game has cast the One Day Cup competition to the sticks as part of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s ludicrous will to congest the calendar further. And going forward England need that stability.
Whether it’s in Test cricket or either of the two limited over formats England have in the past prioritised one over the other two.
With that policy has come a World Cup triumph but also the sacrifice of Test cricket into the abyss.
What the England of right now looks like – under the trifecta of managing director Rob Key, Test coach Brendon McCullum and limited overs coach Mott – is a team with potential to fight on three fronts.
The specialists in the likes of Joe Root and his No4 spot in the Test side, Moeen Ali and his middle order limited overs spot and Eoin Morgan as short-form captain are able to hone in on their skillset.
The cross-pollinators in Stokes, Malan and potentially even the likes of Livingstone add the fire and durability to both codes of the game.
It’s by no means perfect, but for a project in its infancy England remain unbeaten in two Tests and two ODI’s.
Challenges will continue to appear and will need to be overcome – but, on the field at least, it appears the ECB have struck a vein of gold. How fruitful that vein continues to be, however, remains undetermined.