2021 is a busy year for England. We all know that. Yet a busy schedule has it’s benefits and one of these is an open chance for succession planning. England have a T20 world cup this year and 3 of their front line bowlers (Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Adil Rashid) have their own respective injury concerns whilst 2 of their top 6 (Buttler and Stokes) will have test commitments to attend too as well. England are also the 50 over world champions and by all intents and purposes want to retain this crown and the only way to do that is to keep the squad fresh and firing. But England do possess an ageing squad with the likes of Morgan and Moeen now the wrong side of 30 and it will be a surprise if they make it to the next world cup. 6 ODIs this summer provides the perfect chance for England to take a look at those who are nearly there but not quite whilst still retaining the core of the squad. If England want to retain the world cup they need to maintain the depth that saw David Willey miss out on the side and Liam Dawson only play 3 ODIs in his whole career.
Of course all of these players will still be in England's first Xi come 2023 but on the off chance they do end up going down to injury England need players with overs bowled and balls faced and with the worrying lack of domestic 50 over cricket being played at the moment 3 ODIs vs Sri Lanka and Pakistan respectively has presented England with this chance. So who are the replacements?
Jofra is of course irreplaceable. I mean he is the king of One Day International cricket and at the moment there truly is no one more effective in every phase of the game. Archer and Woakes are replicating what Roy and Bairstow do for England but just with the new ball. As a pair Woakes and Archer have opened the bowling they have 20 wickets from 145 overs averaging 29 but their economy rate of just 4.08 is absurd. Only twice have they failed to take a wicket in their opening overs and both times England have lost. However this summer neither will be available so England need to find a new ball pair and fast. One of David Willey or Sam Curran has one of those slots filled so England need to find someone with a bit more zip.
Saqib Mahmood is easily the next in line for a new ball role along with one of the left armers. Saqib has an incredible List A record picking up 55 wickets @ 25.9 whilst going at just 5.69 an over. These skills have actually translated fairly well into ODI cricket where he has 5 wickets @ 31.2 but an econ of just 4.75 he is performing his role well. Saqib has bowled in every phase of the game though his most impressive is undoubtedly up top with the new ball or in the middle exploiting reverse swing back into the right handers. It was this set of skills that saw him dominate the 2019 Royal London One Day Cup claiming 28 wickets @ 18.50 from just 10 games. Saqib Mahmood is one of England's best white ball bowlers and is the perfect backup for Jofra and this summer against a good Pakistan batting unit is his time to show us what he is truly made off.
Adil Rashid is one of the top two white ball spinners in the world and with good reason. A master of the craft and getting better by each game Rashid is England's match winner and so much of the dynamic and nature of the squad has been built around him and the natural ability of a leg spinner to achieve a wicket from nothing. But Rashid has had his issues with a shoulder injury the most persistent problem and at 33 it would no surprise if he is not donning the three lions come to next world cup. Of course England will play Rashid in the ODIs this summer but to play him in all 6 is a serious risk.
This one is another which is a remarkably simple and somewhat uncontentious pick. Matt Parkinson is quite simply England's next best white ball wrist spinner by a long way. Of course the 20 over format is where Parkinson has shone for Lancashire but his List A record is more than respectable with the Lancashire Leggie claiming 42 scalps @ 28.1 with an economy of just 5.17. Parkinson is undoubtedly talented and despite two fairly dire England One Day caps Parkinson deserves his shot. He is of course different to Rashid and England needs to realise this. Where Rashid is bamboozling his opposition with his vast array of deliveries Parkinson is much more about his consistency and subtle changes of pace and length that make a batsmen make the wrong decision. Parkinson does not possess the same wicket taking ability as Rashid (yet) and England need to stop thinking he does and they need to understand that for Parkinson to develop into this role will take time. Pace is a supposed issue with Parkinson but this is something I simply do not buy into. Parkinson is a talented cricketer and after a long winter away it’s time England gave him a go.
Buttler is much like Archer in that he is simply irreplaceable. His numbers are ridiculous and so are his hands which just seem to work faster than everyone else's. Buttler can lay serious claim to being Englands best ever white ball batsmen and with good reason. However he won’t be around forever and England do need to find lower order hitters.
Liam Livingstone is probably England's safest bet. Livingstone has already made his ODI debut impressing against a strong Indian attack finishing off the innings in the 2nd game. Livingstone is a pure 6 hitting machine and at the moment is, in my opinion, undoubtedly in England's top 3 6 hitters along with Jos and Sam Curran. Livingstones domestic record is also impressive with him having hit 1615 runs @ 36.7 with a Sr just above 100. Livingstone is too good a player not to get some games for England this summer and his bowling does offer enough for it to be a legitimate reason for him to be in the side. In terms of a lower order power hitter Livingstone is probably the best out there right now.
Stokes is a transformed ODI batsmen and bowler and is superb in the format. Stokes at 5 is the perfect combination often giving him the ample amount of time to see himself in before going ballistic at the end. His bowling is also a huge factor in terms of balancing the side with his dog in style making him a useful middle overs asset. Stokes also is Stokes and the cocksure nature in which he takes to the field is almost unmatched by any cricketer currently playing. England need another bowling all rounder to fill the great man's boots.
The Trent Rockets captain (if you claim you knew this you’re lying) Lewis Gregory is the perfect fit. Now whilst Gregory isn’t anywhere near the same in terms of batting as Stokes as a bowling all rounder he is perfect. A slight re shuffle of the order can see Gregory comfortably slot in at 7 and this is the role he fits best. Gregory’s domestic bowling record is also superb with him claiming 106 List A wickets @ 27.7 whilst only going at 5.98 an over. Gregory can bowl in the middle with great effect using a variety of slower balls and subtle changes of angle and pace. In terms of batting he has 1206 List A runs coming @ 23.6 but a SR of 100.8 means he is another useful lower order finisher. Gregory is also 28 and reaching his prime as a cricketer so if England want to rest Ben Stokes (which they almost certainly do) and give some air to his next closest contemporary then this summer is the perfect chance to do so.
Moeen has long been a superb servant for England in the 50 over format but maybe it’s time to say goodbye. His stats make for sore reading so I shan’t share them but trust me they won’t be as good as you remember. Moeen is infatuating as a cricketer especially in this format where he has the perfect time to see himself in and then hit every bowler out of the attack but England need to find a replacement.
The issue is England already have found him in fact they found him a few years ago they’ve just never let him play. Liam Dawson quite frankly has to play One Day cricket this summer and almost certainly will. Dawson is a superb One Day cricketer shown in the 2019 One Day Cup where he claimed 18 wickets @ 26 but still went at a measly 4.11 an over across his 9 matches. His batting will, obviously, be nowhere near the level of Mo’s but then again no one will for a long long time but Dawson is no fool when holding the willow. Dawson can quite comfortably bat number 8 or 9 for England once again carrying on their tradition of batting long and deep. Dawsons domestic batting record is fairly impressive with him having 3 List A hundreds to go with 3499 runs @ 33 and a SR of 95. The only issue is he is a left arm spinner and with Rashid and Parkinson looking to be the front line spinners England are going to be left a bit weaker in terms of matchups. However Dawson deserves his chance and sadly Moeen has let his slip by. I fully expect Dawson to play at least 4 One Day Internationals this summer.
My predicted Xi for the first ODI vs Sri Lanka:
James Vince/Sam Hain
Sam Curran/David Willey
Adil Rashid/Matt Parkinson
England will have another turbulent summer and with many players either needing rest or having red ball commitments this is a chance for the next in line to show what they’re made of. England needs to grasp this opportunity with both hands and plan for the future by selecting guys who are either entering their peak or will be by the time 2023 comes around.
What do you think? Do you agree? Did I miss anyone out? Let me know on Twitter @therunoutblog1.