Whether a part of the art of success in limited-overs cricket is peaking at the correct time, England haven’t timely their dip in results too badly.
There’s never a good time to lose to Australia, of class lesson. Especially for the reason that the result was once 5-0 to England the final time they visited. But this is still the early stages of the new four-year cycle towards the next World Cup. Whether ever there was once a time to experiment and memorize, it is now. Come the start of that tournament, in October 2023, the main points of this series – fascinating though they’re – is probably not the general public’s first frame of reference.
On that basis alone, it is going to polite prove unwise to read too much into this defeat. This is the first bilateral ODI series England have missing since January 2017 in India, in any case. The first they’ve missing in England since 2015, when Australia were, again, the victors. Their long-term record remains excellent. And, finally, they missing this match by a whisker to what Eoin Morgan admitted, rather correctly, looked “a better side”.
In many ways, England will take numerous heart from this series. For whether there’s one quality that shone out it was once their resilience. In all three of these ODIs – and in the first T20I against the same opposition – there were moments when it appeared as whether they were going to be on the flawed end of a drubbing. To have won two of those matches and gone near in the two others demonstrates a sure amount of self-confidence and fight.
“The positive is we will be able to win when we do not play our best games,” Morgan said afterwards. “We’ve seen the guys show belief and fight. Australia have out-played us but every so often when you do that [win easily] you’re taking things without any consideration. But these contests have been so tight we’ve learned a enormous amount.”
It’s worth remembering, too, what Morgan said ahead of the series. He said he welcomed the prospect of playing on lower, slower surfaces which given assistance to spin as they regarded as both an area of weakness and a likely scenario ahead of the tournament in India.
In that case, he’s going to have learned plenty. And in some respects, it is that England have a long way to go before they may be able to be regarded as favourites to keep their title. For, whether they are actually sincere, they’re going to accept they were flattered a bit by the margin of defeat in the first game, escaped from prison in the second one and saw a few familiar failings come back to hang-out them in the third.
“We’ve learned rather a lot approximately the group playing on slower wickets,” Morgan continued. “Having an possibility to play on them for three games in a row is a infrequent one for us. It hasn’t gone our way, but certainly we have addressed an area of our game that is our weakest. We now have time to take it and work on it.”
The object they will have to toughen most, in all formats, is their fielding. If in T20Is, Tests or ODIs, too many chances are high that going down to sustain serious hopes of winning the biggest tournaments. Morgan suggested his side missed the intensity created by a live audience, which is, no doubt, a factor. But it was once telling that Australia perceived to manage far better.
Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey hold the Royal London One Day Series trophy Getty Images
Two chances went down in this game. The first, Jofra Archer seeing a drive from Marcus Stoinis burst through his hands at mid-off, did not prove costly. But the second one, Jos Buttler failing to cling on to a sharp but, by these standards, pretty much regulation chance offered by Glenn Maxwell off Adil Rashid when he had 44, was once arguably the turning point of the game.
The England management care for they’re working tough on the team’s fielding and no doubt that is the case. But whatever they are doing is not working. It’s an area that requires a rethink.
Might that come with Buttler at the back of the stumps? Probably not. He is clearly an outstanding batsman in this format – despite a series average of 4.00 – and has performed decently with the gloves in the white-ball game. You only have to think back World Cup last to realize that.
But he isn’t convincing standing up to the spinners. Not in any format. And with the World Cup set to be played in India, it is an area that will require attention.
There is also a emptiness in the spin-bowling branch, too. The decision to leave out Moeen Ali on these surfaces was once revealing. In normal circumstances, you’ll have thought England would even have regarded as playing a third spinner on such pitches but, with confidence in Moeen waning, they elected to pick out only Rashid.
It was once comprehensible, too. Since the start of July 2018, Moeen is averaging 16.20 with the bat in 27 ODIs and has taken just 13 wickets at a cost of 86 apiece. His economy rate in that period – 5.75 – is not too naughty but, by comparison, Adil Rashid’s is 5.71 (and his average 32.85) in the same period, Nathan Lyon’s is 5.01, while Mitchell Santner and Ravi Jadeja both concede 4.88 an over. Yes, Joe Root deputised nicely at Emirates Old Trafford. But at a World Cup in India, England may need to imagine him a third spinner at best.
Liam Plunkett has been missed, too. He would, whether fit, have been awkward to face on these surfaces, in specific, and at this stage England look no closer to replacing his middle over wickets. It wasn’t necessarily flawed to move on from him – he’s 35 now and unlikely to remain a viable selection by the point this World Cup cycle comes to a conclusion – but it was once a reminder of how much he offered and the want to replace him.
In general, this series was once probably a useful wake-up call. England would not have a great recent record of resetting after achieving their targets. Imagine the destiny of the Test side which, having reached No. 1 in the rankings in 2011, was once defeated by Pakistan, South Africa (at home), Australia and Sri Lanka (at home) over the following few years. Equally, when they travelled to Australia in 2006-07, they remained wedded to the team who had claimed the historic Ashes victory in 2005. Instead of refreshing it with younger player, they relied upon a team that was once, in several cases, polite past its best. So, coming up against a strong, motivated Australia team here may have been just the reminder of the levels required to care for success at this level. Defeat will sting.
There is a bigger issue here, of class lesson. The truth that we were ready to see a result at all – the fact we’ve been treated to a few terrifically entertaining cricket over these final two-and-a-half months – will have to be regarded as a great success. Taking into consideration the position we were in a couple of months ago, the achieving of playing all of the men’s international schedule is significant. It’s going to help retain the professional game’s head just above the water.
There are lots of to credit for this achievement with Steve Elworthy, the man who also ran the World Cup, a primary candidate. But England also owe plenty to West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland and Australia who have, in some cases, sent teams from regions where Covid-19 gave the impression to be less of a threat as a way to help the ECB continue to exist. This spirit will have to be remembered when future decisions approximately the game’s global finances are made.
The coming weeks will see debates approximately the want to cut the pay of England’s top players. And, in the circumstances, it’s probably only correct they share the pain. But it will have to also be remembered that some of them have spent 90 days, with very brief breaks here and there, in a hugely limiting bio-bubble. They made up our minds long ago not to make any public complaint approximately this but to have been separated from their families, to have been unable to leave the ground, to have been stuck in the an increasing number of claustrophobic surroundings is some way more demanding that they’ve let on. Whatever the results of this ODI series, they – and the entire other teams who visited this summer – deserve numerous credit for that.