It may seem odd to think of the world’s top-ranked Twenty20 batsman as a potential loser from the England tour of India, but Dawid Malan looks over his shoulder all the way to the World Cup in October.
Not that Malan had a terrible time on a two-month trip that saw England beaten in all formats. He made 68 of 46 balls in the final T20 and his first ODI 50 in Sunday’s narrow defeat – but it’s who he could face for the No. 3 slot that could well count against him.
England need to get more out of their most influential cricketer – Ben Stokes – in a T20 format he’s never quite mastered internationally. Especially since they have to beat India in their own backyard to complete a World Cup double.
England suffered three out of three losses on their tour of India, but there were positive points
They returned from India without three wins, but they faced a tough challenge in India
And what better fit Stokes than at No. 3, where he broke up the spinners of India to make a sizzling 99 in Joe Root’s second one-day international substitute.
It’s a shame of wealth that sums up the power of English cricket at the end of a winter journey that was nowhere near as bad as three defeats in three heats suggest. This was not a return to the bad old days on the subcontinent.
There may have been issues with rest and rotation and England’s balancing act in a crowded, Covid-stricken year where everyone must be flexible – with the exception of the seemingly non-negotiable Indian Premier League.
But all of England’s 3-1, 3-2 and 2-1 defeats have proven that India under Virat Kohli is as close to an unbeatable team in their own circumstances as cricket may have ever seen. Hyperbole? Not with the dizzying power of all the departments Kohli has.
England still has to make the most of the influential Ben Stokes in T20 at the international level
The hosts under Virat Kohli are as good as unbeatable in their circumstances as you will see
No one outside the camp in England gave the tourists a sniff of winning the Test series – I predicted a 3-1 win for India and thought I was optimistic – and all that glorious Root-inspired first Test win was one stick with a slumbering Indian bear.
India woke up well, but it took Kohli, never afraid to push the rules to the limit, to demand fields unsuitable for Testing purposes and ensure his spinners had enough to work with to take England to three tough to rush defeats.
There will of course be English casualties from the cathartic experience. It may be some time before Dom Bess returns to Test cricket as Jonny Bairstow faces an uncertain future despite his one-day excellence and provocative response to Sunil Gavaskar’s TV allegations that he looked ‘uninterested’ in Test cricket. .
But if England can keep Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Olly Stone, who have proven himself to the highest level in the second Test, fully fit, they can look to the Ashes with optimism.
Jofra Archer (left) and Olly Stone (right) inspire optimism in the Ashes
They can certainly expect their favorite Test top three of Rory Burns, Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley to be back on their feet soon, away from the spin torment in India.
Not to mention the equally delectable prospect of a five-game return series against Kohli and Co in August. That should be much closer than has become the norm between the teams in English conditions, with Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad armed with a Dukes ball.
It’s clear how important Archer has become to English ambitions of all sizes. And what a blessing in disguise his elbow injury could prove to be if it means he gets plenty of rest and can come back fit and fiery when it matters most later this year.
For now, Archer faces minor surgery to remove a piece of glass seemingly bizarre embedded in his right hand when he dropped an aquarium and broke that he was cleaning at home for the tour.
Archer still hopes to play in the later stages of the IPL, but England doesn’t want him rushing back to India.
Rory Burns is one of three expected to be back on their feet after suffering spin torment
So much was made about Eoin Morgan getting a full strength T20 squad during the World Cup year that the 3-2 short defeat represents the tour’s biggest disappointment. Morgan and Chris Silverwood have questions to answer not only about Malan and Stokes, but also their best bowling attack.
Archer, Wood and Adil Rashid are bankers in that line-up, but there are doubts about Chris Jordan’s place in first-choice and Tom Curran’s presence on the cue ball.
In any case, Curran’s brother, Sam, provided a welcome reminder of his all-round importance with a brilliant 95 unbeaten on Sunday after a quiet winter.
Sam Curran produced a beautiful unbeaten 95 on Sunday after a quiet winter
That extraordinary effort by the younger Curran wasn’t enough to give England a one-day streak of consolation victory, but it’s far from a disaster – such is the experimental nature of much of England’s 50-over cricket with the next World Cup over two. year. .
And there was plenty of two fringe players in Liam Livingstone, who look like the right stuff for England, and Reece Topley, now a death bowling alternative to Jordan in T20, to give more encouragement.
Just think of Matt Parkinson, who spent the entire tour of Sri Lanka and India in the English bubble without playing a game.
His only real contribution was the rise of tweets he posted as a teenager insulting Kohli and MS Dhoni.
From here it can only get better for the 24 year old leg spinner.
Two winners and losers from the red and white ball of England’s tour of India
It was Ashley Giles who compared Stone to a Ferrari when he was in Warwickshire, but the really fast bowler has spent a lot more time in the garage than on the racetrack. His promising performance in the second test proved that he belongs in top gear.
Got off to a good start in Sri Lanka, but was thrown under the bus at three in India when Jonny Bairstow went home and Zak Crawley slipped on a marble floor. But came back strong in the final Test and was able to put pressure on Ollie Pope for a place against New Zealand in June.
Not helped by being treated badly, no matter what England protested to the contrary. Took wickets in Sri Lanka and in first Test against India without ever convincing and seemingly threw himself out – at least for this summer – on his return for the last Test.
It fared well on Test’s return to Sri Lanka but was then sent home to the frozen north for 10 days on a tortuous journey to India looking desperately rusty against the spinning ball in the last two Tests. He says he wants to hit number 3 in the Ashes, but that seems hopeless.
Graham Thorpe has long identified him as a special talent, just as he once did with a young Joe Root, and Livingstone glimpsed his power with the bat and versatility with the ball in the last two ODIs. As Jonny Bairstow said when he presented him with his 50-over cap, Livingstone’s game fits England’s all-action approach perfectly.
Remarkable comeback from ‘retiring’ after extensive injury problems to bowling for fun in Australia and then making a comeback with Sussex, Surrey and England. He was shown in the second 50-over match and has the knack for solving England’s T20 death bowling problems.
Yes I know. It’s ridiculously hard to even poll a batsman who averages over 50 in T20 cricket and has a 144 success rate. And yet. England needs to promote Ben Stokes and there are no other candidates to move. And most of Malan’s success has come in places to match his rear game. Real dilemma.
Spent three months in bio-safe bubbles in Sri Lanka and India without playing a game. Then he got angered at India when tweets surfaced calling Kohli an ‘arrogant p ****’ as a teenager. Chris Silverwood said yesterday that Parkinson’s has been ‘spectacular’ on the sidelines. That’s a word for it….