England will begin their winter of cricket with three one day internationals in Bangladesh next week, and they face a number of interesting selection options. After Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales dropped out of the tour due to security fears, it has already been confirmed that Jos Buttler will captain the side, but it is unclear who will slot in where.
In terms of the fifty-over games, Hales’ opening spot will probably be filled by Northants star Ben Duckett, while Jonny Bairstow should replace Morgan in the middle order. Duckett has enjoyed a superb season for Northants, picking up two PCA awards: the player of the year and the young player of the year. Although he spent the season opening the batting in four day cricket, however, he has not played as an opener much in one day cricket. He batted at number three for the England Lions, and often occupied the number four spot for Northants, meaning that he hasn’t had that much experience opening up in one-day cricket. Making his England bow in a slightly unfamiliar role could, therefore, prove a little challenging. That said, he has proven his adaptability over the past year. His natural talent and positive approach to batting give him every chance of succeeding as an opener in England’s one-day side. He should also thrive in such spin-friendly conditions.
Another option for England at the top of the order would be Moeen Ali. The all-rounder has opened before, and also has experience of doing so for Worcestershire, meaning that Duckett could bat at number three. That option might be preferable, considering the success the Northants star had while batting at three for the Lions. He is perfectly capable of opening up, but playing him in a role that he’s already familiar with in one-day cricket might make his transition into the England 1st XI that little bit smoother.
The ODI squad also provides Kent youngster, Sam Billings, with another crack at international cricket. His opportunity in England’s senior side has been relatively limited, and he hasn’t secured his spot yet. He has been in good form for Kent and the Lions this summer, though, and will be keen to impress against Bangladesh, should he get the chance. He is another with an immense amount of talent, and if both he and Duckett have successful series, it will make Morgan and Hales’ job of slotting back into the side a lot harder. He is probably behind Duckett in the pecking order as things stand, as the former has had such a prolific season with the bat in hand. With Joe Root being rested for the series, though, Billings has a great opportunity to impress, and should slot into the middle order.
It should be acknowledged that Bangladesh might provide a sterner test than many people are expecting. According to the 2017 Champions Trophy group tables, the hosts are the eighth best one-day side in the world. In their own backyard, too, England will not find it easy to win games. England will expect to win convincingly, and rightly so, if they have real aspirations to win next summer’s champions trophy. However, should the tourists view Bangladesh merely as a warmup to the India tour, they could be in for a surprise.
The side at the foot of the page is the one I would go with, were I in Trevor Bayliss’ position (unfortunately I’m not, still working on that part). I’ve got Duckett at three, with Ali opening up, but those two could both do either job. Bairstow also comes straight in to bat at number 5, with Billings at 7. I’d also be inclined to give the Yorkshireman the gloves – he is the current test wicket keeper, so should be given as much chance to improve as possible. Buttler might also enjoy not having to captain the side and keep at the same time. Bowling-wise, there are plenty of options, with four seamers and two spinners. Essentially I wouldn’t tinker with the side too much, and this one is very similar to the XI who reached the World T20 finals, barring those who have become unavailable. Dawson could be given the chance if the selected bowlers start the tour well, but to start with I’d go full-strength and allow England’s best players to acclimatise to the testing conditions of the sub-continent.
My starting XI:
Roy, Ali, Duckett, Buttler (c), Bairstow (w), Stokes, Billings, Woakes, Willey, Rashid, Plunkett
Expect another piece, on the upcoming test series, after the one-day matches have finished. There will be plenty of room for discussion on that matter, too.