The defending world champions in both limited formats, England will set their expeditions to India with the resolution of replicating something which only two of the best white-ball sides have been able to achieve.
Recent years haven’t been cordial to the English National side when it comes to ODIs. Since the conclusion of the 2019 ODI World Cup, England has the 8th worst Win-Loss ratio in the format amongst the teams who will be participating in the 2023 ODI World Cup.
There are also outside whispers/concerns regarding the inconsistencies around the team, with England and Pakistan being the only participating teams to have fielded more/equal amount of players than the number of total matches they have played since July 14, 2019.
However, England is no stranger to such situations. Heading into the 2022 T20 World Cup, England had lost 3 out of their 5 T20I series that year, one of those losses coming against the Windies.
They would also suffer a shocking loss against Ireland in the group stages, but they wouldn’t let this block the path to their 2nd T20I World Cup and they would hope they can claim their 2nd ODI World Cup this autumn.
Note: * denotes that the statistics are since July 15 2019, including the matches between participant teams only.
Jos Buttler (c), Moeen Ali, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, David Willey, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes.
With all the chops and changes that England did in this ODI cycle, the squad they have put together is rather unsurprising. Of Course with the kind of white-ball batting talent that England possesses, there ought to be exciting talent who would miss out on the flight to India. Phil Salt and Sam Billings have both been among the runs, however, stupefyingly the omission that had initially generated maximum buzz was that of “generational talent” Harry Brook.
Quickly rising through the ranks of international cricket, Brooks has made quite a name for himself throughout the globe, though his best has come in 5-day matches. He has played only 6 ODIs till now with an ordinary batting average of 20.5. He also had a terrible 2023 IPL averaging 21.11 over 11 innings. Considering a player like Phil Salt who has scored his ODI runs at a rate of 125.68 since 2020, wasn’t able to fix his spot in the 15, it wasn’t surprising that Brook was left out too.
However, England would change their squad on 17th September, dropping Jason Roy for Harry Brook. Although Roy hadn’t been in the best of forms since the last world cup, averaging 31.78, he was striking the ball well, as usual, and had been among the runs in his previous 2 series. Selector Luke Wright would later give the reason for the decision to be Brook’s adaptability and how he is a better option when it comes to the role of a backup batsman, instead of Roy.
The other major name who couldn’t make it into the squad was Jofra Archer. As expected, Wright declared that the decision was solely due to Archer’s fitness issues and he would be with the team as a “travelling reserve”, and might take part in the 2nd half of the tournament in case of an injury. Since his ODI debut, Archer has picked the 3rd most wickets amongst all English Bowlers, with a bowling average of 21.74.
Notably Surrey Pacer Gus Atkinson was included in the squad and has picked up only a single ODI wicket till now. With the ability to touch 90 mph consistently, Atkinson adds one more option for captain Buttler in the long assembly of pacers in the squad, and such depth in the pace battery might prove useful across 11 potential matches.
Fast-Paced Batting Backed by Profundity: Ever since their turnaround after the upset at Adelaide, England’s mantra in the batting department has been to Play Hard and Play Deep, and they would be carrying this successful recipe with them to the biggest stage.
Since July 15, 2019, England has been the only side to score their runs at an excess of run a ball, with them scoring their runs at a rate of 6.10.* Within this period 6 of the squad members have scored their runs at a strike rate in excess of 100 (min. 300 runs).
Moreover one of the reasons why England has been able to persist with such an aggressive approach is due to the depth they possess within their batting ranks. 12 out of the 15 squad members possess a first-class average in excess of 30. In fact, 2 out of the 6 players mentioned before, have bowling as their primary skill.
The victorious side of 2019 had a batsman with 10 first-class centuries coming at number 10, and it seems that England has no intentions of changing their mindset, and judging by the results, why should they?
Stacked Middle Order Followed by Eruptive Finishers: It’s no surprise that a team whose middle order consists of batsmen such as Jos Buttler, Joe Root (more on him later on), and Ben Stokes; has been the quickest-scoring side in the quieter overs, with a team strike rate of 94.86. Moreover, both Root and Stokes love playing in India, with both of them averaging over 50 with Stokes having a monstrous strike rate of 138.58, though Captain Buttler would look to improve his batting average of 11.85 within the host nation.
Although England has had the highest strike rate in the middle-overs, their average of 38.26 isn’t as glorious, the 4th best out of the 10 teams.* The reason why the English batsmen have been able to go hard in the middle overs with correspondingly lesser care for their wickets is due to a robust lower order, alongside the batting depth which we have discussed above.
Moeen as usual has blown hot-and-cold, however for the past 4 years, it has been more cold than hot with his strike rate standing at a dismal 85.91 though his strike rate in 2023 has gone above 100.
Anyhow the primary finisher for England heading into the World Cup is undoubtedly Liam Livingstone. Having taken some time to adjust to the format, it seems that Livingstone has finally adapted himself to the number 7 position with him scoring 186 runs in the recent series against New Zealand, @62.00 with a strike rate of 110.06. Additionally, Liam has been brilliant with the bat in the IPL for the past 2 seasons, scoring 716 runs at a strike rate of 174.21!
Chokehold at the Top: Ever since the last decade, England have dominated the powerplays the only difference being that previously it was the openers who took up the charge whereas now it is the bowling department who have become the global leaders in this department.
England has the most wickets, the best bowling average and strike rate and the 3rd best economy in overs 1-10.*
When it comes to the batting department, England has kept up the pace but teams like South Africa, Australia and India have caught up with them and England loses wickets much more frequently in the starting overs compared to 2015-19.
Chris Woakes and Sam Curran have been brilliant with new ball, especially Curran who is only bettered by Trent Boult and Mohammad Siraj in this phase. To compliment them even David Willey has 11 wickets to his name within the first 10 overs*.
However their form with the new ball has indeed dropped since 2022, wickets have been still coming in heaps however the economy has jumped from 4.88 to 5.13. However, England have trifled around with their players in this period, often fielding bowlers who are not even in the World Cup squad.
England will be hoping that both their batsmen and bowlers retrieve their fire within the initial overs.
Poor Form and Lack of Game Time: The top scorer for England in the 2019 edition, Joe Root has been in dismal conformation ever since, scoring his runs at an average of 27.85 and is one of the few English batters to strike below 80. Although there is no excuse to defend such numbers, one needs to also consider Root has only played 19 ODIs in this period, out of the possible 41 matches.
Furthermore, this is the case with many other squad members. Chief opener Johnny Bairstow has played 9 matches since 2022, averaging 19.38 in them. Express pacer Mark Wood has played a total of 8 matches since 2020 and has been out of action since The Ashes due to a sore heel. As discussed above, Moeen has been inconsistent within the same period and Sam Curran has a career bowling average of 36.79. This is a matter of concern considering all of these players are probable names in the starting XI.
Expensive spinners: Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid are established names within the 50-over circuit, with both featuring amongst the top-10 wicket takers(spinners) in the last 10 years, with Adil being at the top. Adil, being the leading spinner of the team, has the role of picking up crucial wickets during the middle overs and he has been somewhat successful in doing so, having the 6th most wickets during overs 11-40 with a respectable strike rate of 39.78.* However from the economical point of view, he has been quite literally the worst, being amongst the only 2 spinners to have an economy over 6 since the last World Cup.*
His partner Ali as usual has struggled with the ball, averaging 44.27 across all ODIs since the last World Cup. New addition Livingstone seems promising with the ball especially his performances across T20 leagues but he has bowled an average of 3.141 overs per international innings.
As the tournament progresses and the pitches get slower, spinners will play a more important role and the English spinners must step up their game.
Left Arm Pacers: One of the few occasions where England’s batting faltered in ICC tournaments after their renaissance include the champions trophy semi-finals and the group stage match against Australia in the World Cup. A similarity between both the matches was the havoc caused by lefties; Starc, Beherendorff, Rumman, and Junaid together picked up 13 out of the 20 English wickets and we believe the trend will continue in 2023.
Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Dawid Malan, and Moeen Ali are batters whose performance against the left-arm quicks is a mere shadow of their overall numbers, especially Stokes and Bairstow who average less than 30 against them. Thus don’t be surprised if any teams bring in left-armers specifically against England, like what the Aussies did in 2019 with Behrendorff.
Predicted Playing XI
- Jonny Bairstow
- Dawid Malan
- Joe Root
- Ben Stokes
- Jos Buttler (c) (wk)
- Moeen Ali
- Liam Livingstone
- Sam Curran
- Chris Woakes
- David Willey
- Adil Rashid
Team Composition- Bowling or Batting All-Rounder: With 6 all-rounders being picked in the squad, Coach Mott has the luxury of varied team combinations in front of him. We have gone with a side that favours batting over bowling only because we believe England is going to take the same decision, given their line-ups in recent series. Nonetheless, England can very well push one out of Woakes, Willey, or Curran to the number 7 spot, and include an extra pacer in place of someone like Moeen who averages 22.45 with the bat and 44.27 with the ball since the last World Cup.
Pacers Conundrum: England has included 6 frontline pacers in their contingent and 5 out of them pose very good arguments both for and against their inclusion in the starting XI.
Willey, Topley, and Woakes have been consistent performers in England in recent times. Woakes especially has been extremely miser with the ball, having the 2nd best economy among pacers.*
Now one can pick any two out of the above 3 pacers and it would be tough to negate his decision but Woakes’s recent performances against Bangladesh and New Zealand combined with the fact that he has been a touch above the rest two within the powerplay overs makes us believe he will have an edge when it comes to selection.
Now the question is of Willey vs Topley. There’s very little to separate the two, we have given the Nod to Willey just because he is the more economical and wicket-taking option within the middle-overs, in fact outperforming every other English bowler within this phase.*
Moreover, Woakes and Willey provide extra batting. It certainly is of very little value while selecting tail-enders however it certainly doesn’t hurt when comparing between bowlers who have been so evenly matched over the last few years.
Sam Curran has the 7th worst average out of 38 pacers who have bowled a minimum of 500 balls since 15 July 2019.* However he has been brilliant in the powerplay within the same period, his average and strike rate being bettered by only Boult in the overs 1-10.* It might come as a surprise to some but Curran has struggled in the death overs having an economy of 8.6 in overs 41-50.* Though he has been equally brilliant at the back end in T20Is having an economy of under 8 in overs 16-20 since 2022. Thus we believe England is going to back Curran based on his T20I pedigree and hope he forms a deadly partnership with Woakes at the top.
Mark Wood is one of the fastest bowlers in the world currently and his 150 kmph pace combined with deadly yorkers is an asset that can prove to be very useful for England in the middle and death overs. However as mentioned earlier, Wood hasn’t played regular ODI cricket in recent times, featuring in only 2 matches since 2022. Besides, he is also nursing a sore heel and thus England might not play him right away.
Notably, this is the pace battery that we feel will play most of the matches. We are also predicting England to make full use of their depth and rotate their pacers according to the schedule and pitch conditions.
England will kick off the tournament along with New Zealand in Ahmedabad followed by an encounter against Bangladesh at Dharamsala. With hit-the-deck bowlers such as Prasidh and Hardik finding success at the Motera in recent years, England might favour Topley and Wood(if he’s fit) in the opening match so as to make full use of the pace and bounce offered by the pitch and might continue with the combination into the 2nd match taking place at one of the highest stadiums in the world.
England will also face the hosts at Ekana in the latter half of the tournament. Ekana was heaven for bowlers last IPL, with the average 1st innings score being 143.2 and the spinners bowled with an economy of 6.5.
Reports have come to the surface about India planning to present the English with a spin-friendly pitch during their match-up. If this is indeed true then the English batsmen have their task cutoff against Kuldeep and Co.
England will face the proteas in Wankhade and if the pitch behaves in accordance with the 2023 IPL, then we might see a repeat of the 2016 T20 World Cup encounter.
Later on, England will face the Netherlands in Pune which yielded 5 300+ scores in the 3-match ODI series between Ind-Eng in 2021. Thus don’t be surprised if the 400-run mark is breached in this match.
Players to Watch Out For
White-Ball Chameleon: Having essenced various roles throughout his white-ball career, Jos Buttler is one of the few players in history to have been successful in all of them. Having started his international career as a typical lower-order keeper-batsman, Buttler made the position his own, striking in excess of 110 for the first 4 years of his ODI career, in fact, Buttler has the 2nd best strike rate amongst all players taking part in the 2023 ODI World Cup.
He would be shifted to the top order in T20s, but this wouldn’t hamper his ODI form, going on to become one of the premier batsmen in both formats, simultaneously. Recently he has been shifted to number 5 so as to accommodate the fiery English finishers and as usual Buttler has excelled in his role too, having an average of 60.89 this year with a strike of 110.26.
Buttler would be keen to improve his performance in India, where he averages 11.86 across 8 ODI matches, less than Chris Martin’s highest test score. However, a batsman of Buttler’s class in addition to his IPL success must not face difficulty in doing so.
Buttler also has the opportunity to become only the 2nd captain to do the double of the ODI and T20 World Cup this fall, and in the process, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest white-ball players ever.
The Late Bloomer: Making his ODI debut at the age of 31, Malan has grabbed his opportunities, being the highest run-getter for his side since the last World Cup; possessing the 2nd-best average among all participating players in this period.* Due to England’s sturdy middle-order, it was tough for Malan to cement his place despite such stellar performances and he was pushed to the opening spot on the backdrop of Roy’s poor form. Accustomed to the middle-overs, Malan adapted to the new role, recently bagging the man of the series against New Zealand while opening. At the age of 35, this is Malan’s first and probably last chance at the big stage and he would want to capitalize upon this golden run.
All-Rounder Mavericks: Ben Stokes is one player who people love to watch play. Thus it was a relief to cricket lovers when Ben reversed his retirement from ODIs which he had taken last July.
He is not going to be contributing with the ball as much as he did in the 2019 edition, however, he retains his importance in England’s batting order. With Root and Ali out of form and Bairstow finding it hard to score runs since 2022, Stokes needs to recreate his 2019 heroics. He is certainly on the right track, scoring England’s highest individual score, 182 against the Kiwis recently.
Complimenting him will be fellow former Royals player, Liam Livingstone. Having already discussed his impact within a short ODI career, Liam would be crucial with both bat and bowl. With Moeen having issues being consistent with the ball and Adil being expensive as usual, Liam’s exploits with the ball become crucial, especially in the later stages of the tournament where the pitches will get slower.
In accordance with the last 5 years or so, it’s another ICC white-ball tournament and England is one of the dark horses. This doesn’t mean the team is perfect, quite far from it actually. But perfection is something this team doesn’t pursue.
The initial change of approach to the format under Captain Morgan was far from perfect. Their batting and especially bowling performances in the subsequent years were far from perfect. Heck, their 2019 World Cup campaign was far from perfect, be it the group-stage losses against Sri Lanka and Pakistan or eventually one of the most controversial/imperfect finals. Nevertheless, Buttler’s men are indifferent to the word perfect, and this World Cup, they will set out on the quest to establish themselves as one of the best white-ball sides, there ever was.