England play their first home one-day international on Thursday since lifting the World Cup a year and 16 days ago, with Eoin Morgan insisting: ‘We want to win more trophies.’
If the captain’s drive has not waned since joining Bobby Moore and Martin Johnson on English sport’s highest pedestal, then the occasion could hardly be more different. After the thrills of a super over against New Zealand at a packed Lord’s comes a three-match series against Ireland behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl.
And while Morgan will not allow his team to underestimate the Irish – who famously beat England at the 2011 World Cup thanks to a 50-ball century from Kevin O’Brien – he will take the field with only three of his team-mates from that breathless final.
Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy will resume an opening partnership that last saw action during a 1-1 draw in South Africa in February, while Adil Rashid, 32 now and almost a veteran, is set to lead the spin attack. Moeen Ali, who was part of the World Cup squad but dropped before the final, is now Morgan’s vice-captain.
Of the other seven World Cup finalists, Liam Plunkett has been harshly dumped, while Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are all part of the Test bubble currently preparing for next week’s series opener against Pakistan in Manchester. On Wednesday, the selectors named an unchanged squad of 14 from the side who regained the Wisden Trophy against West Indies on Monday.
The big guns will all return at some point as England embark on a journey they hope will end with retaining the World Cup in India in 2023. In the meantime, Morgan wants to learn more about the players likely to join them.
‘Winning last year has given our guys a huge amount of confidence in the process, strategy and planning we went through over a four-year period,’ he said.
‘But it also creates a level of expectation everywhere we go. That sits well with some of our guys, but a lot of them haven’t experienced that, so it’s important to recognise what is expected of us. Because we want to win more trophies.’
The depth in English white-ball cricket right now, especially the batting, can be measured by two omissions. Sussex’s Phil Salt crashed a 58-ball century as England Lions obliterated a target of 297 against Ireland on Sunday, while Sam Hain of Warwickshire possesses a one-day average of almost 60, the highest in history.
Their absence from England’s 14-man squad places all the more pressure on Joe Denly, recently ditched from the Test team, and James Vince, who will always be known as an elegant underachiever until he improves a record of five half-centuries in 45 innings across the three international formats.
Denly will be 37 come the next World Cup, and has never shaken off the suspicion – fairly or otherwise – that he owes his second stab at the highest level to the advocacy of national selector Ed Smith.
But England have also picked their squad with next year’s postponed T20 World Cup in mind, and Morgan, who is 33 himself, said: ‘With Joe age is not something we talk about – he’s fit and agile as anybody. It’s just his desire and hunger to play and succeed.’
Vince, meanwhile, is being given the benefit of the doubt on the grounds that Alex Hales’s late axing after two failed drugs tests gave him little time to prepare for the World Cup.
‘A lot of the perception is that they’ve almost had their chance and their time has gone,’ said Morgan. ‘Whereas we see it as, going into the next World Cup, we need experienced guys making good decisions under pressure.’
There won’t be many better opportunities for runs against an Ireland side who must bely their ranking of 11th if they are qualify. This series marks the start of the ICC’s new Super League, at the end of which – in May 2022 – the top seven sides will automatically join hosts India at the 10-team tournament in 2023.
‘This is an opportunity to go toe to toe with the best team in the world,’ said Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie. ‘It would be this team’s greatest achievement if we qualify for the World Cup through the top seven.’
Other than a stunning one-off defeat by Scotland in 2018, England have not lost a bilateral one-day series since visiting India in January 2017. It would be a major shock if that sequence ends over the next six days in Southampton.