England ended a five-match losing trend in One Day Internationals on Wednesday with a 59-run victory against South Africa in the series’ third and final encounter. Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton assessed England’s World Cup preparations.
With nine months to go before England starts defending their Cricket World Cup title, there were worries about their form in one-day internationals. However, their victory in the final ODI of the three-match series against South Africa on Wednesday helped alleviate some of those concerns.
Starting the new era under Matthew Mott as head coach and Jos Buttler as captain, England effortlessly swept the Netherlands 3-0 in June. However, they were then defeated 2-1 by India on home soil and had a 1-1 draw in a series impacted by rain against South Africa at home.
The 3-0 series loss to Australia, their old rivals, after the T20 World Cup victory in November was somewhat overlooked due to some key players being absent and the close timing to the win. However, the consecutive losses in the first two matches of the recently concluded series against South Africa set off some alarm bells.
Despite securing a 59-run victory in Kimberley to avoid being swept by South Africa, the match still had some tense moments. The visitors were in a precarious position at 14-3, and the Proteas’ chase of 347 put additional pressure on England. However, Heinrich Klaasen’s 80-run effort ultimately fell short, allowing England to come out on top. Nevertheless, it was a close match that tested England’s resolve, and it showed that there are still areas in which they need to improve ahead of the Cricket World Cup defense.
Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott, the new captain and head coach of the England cricket team, have only 10 one-day internationals to prepare their side for the upcoming Cricket World Cup in India, starting in October. Despite the limited time, former England captain Nasser Hussain is encouraged by Buttler’s focus on being ready for the tournament, rather than fixating on individual match results. This approach is even more impressive considering that several key players are still yet to return or have only recently joined the team. The team’s preparations for the World Cup will likely be helped by Buttler’s focus on the bigger picture, as he and Mott work to build a cohesive and successful team in the limited time available.
Nasser Hussain praised Jos Buttler for his level-headed approach as the England skipper looks to build a team capable of defending their Cricket World Cup title. According to Hussain, even after a string of five consecutive losses in one-day internationals, Buttler remains focused on the ultimate goal of being ready for the tournament in India, which begins in October. Instead of worrying about individual results, Buttler is focusing on bringing the key players back into the team and building towards a strong World Cup performance. This cool and calm attitude, says Hussain, is what sets Buttler apart as a captain.
The absence of two key players, Jonny Bairstow and Liam Livingstone, is currently being felt by the England cricket team. Bairstow suffered a broken leg in a golf accident while Livingstone is recovering from a knee injury sustained during the Test series against Pakistan.
Joe Root, who is preparing for the World Cup, missed the South Africa series as he played in the International League T20 in Dubai to gain more experience in white-ball cricket. On the other hand, Alex Hales, James Vince, and Phil Salt aim to secure a place on the team during the summer.
Jofra Archer’s comeback, after being out of international play since March 2021 due to injury, and career-best ODI bowling numbers of 6-40 in Wednesday’s encounter gave England’s pace options a major boost.
Reece Topley was gradually making a return to international play against South Africa after being sidelined due to an injury prior to the T20 World Cup. He previously stood out by taking 13 wickets in 7 ODIs for England last summer. There’s still uncertainty if Test captain and all-round star Ben Stokes will participate in the World Cup.
Hussain stated that there is a wealth of talent in the batting department, including established superstars such as Joe Root who could fill in if needed.
According to Hussain, the depth in England’s bowling is not as strong, but the team has been struggling with unfavorable conditions in South Africa and many bowlers are recovering from injuries. He acknowledges that bowlers need time to regain their form and cannot be expected to perform immediately after returning from injury. England’s white-ball team is set to travel to Bangladesh for a three-match ODI series in March and will face New Zealand and Ireland in ODI matches at home this summer. These matches will provide opportunities for Mott and Buttler to refine England’s lineup. Even if they don’t achieve all their desired results, they can take comfort in the positive build-up to the T20 World Cup where they won a seven-match series in Pakistan 4-3 and went on to win the tournament.
Michael Atherton, former English captain, believes that the team should try to build confidence and restore their winning streak to get back to 50-over cricket in 2023. He suggested that the next 10 games should be used to find the strongest side possible and to enter India with a series of victories. Overall, he believes that regaining the winning habit is essential in order to boost the team’s confidence.