England were, ultimately, disappointed once again at the end of their ODI series in India. Although they did manage to get their first win of the tour in the third and final game, the bowlers came up short overall, and still have a lot to work on between now and the ICC Champions Trophy in the summer.
The first, most obvious point of concern was the ease with which India pummeled Englands’ bowling attack, in the first two games especially. While David Willey was largely consistent, and while Chris Woakes also impressed, the performances of Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, and Liam Plunkett were slightly underwhelming. Granted, Ali and Rashid have endured a long, touch winter, and so perhaps a degree of fatigue, both mental and physical, has set in. That said, while Ashwin and Jadeja went at six an over during their spells, England’s spinners conceded far too many boundaries, and did not threaten India’s batsmen enough. Particularly seeing as leg-spinners have found success in recent times in white ball cricket, Rashid will be very disappointed. Players such as Samuel Badree from the West Indies have been very effective at restricting free scoring, yet Rashid has struggled. That said, the Yorkshire spinner might be struggling a little to find the balance between test and ODI cricket. In the shorter format, more pace is generally more effective while in test matches, more flight and guile is often required. Overall, though, England will need to assess their spin-bowling options ahead of the West Indies ODI series and the Champions Trophy. Thankfully, though, the tournament will be held in England, and not the subcontinent!
Another cause for concern has been addressed to a degree, and that is the form of England’s captain, Eoin Morgan. He has failed to make a significant contribution in an England shirt for some time now, but in the second match of the series he came good. Granted, it was in a losing cause, but his superb 102 was a prime example of just how elegant and effective he can be. With Joe Root seemingly waiting in the wings to take over the test captaincy, there were many questioning whether Morgan might be dropped, particularly with players such as Bairstow, Billings, and Duckett failing to get a game. This innings, then, was particularly timely, and has reminded everyone just what he can do. Now, he needs to continue his form into the summer, and make a significant contribution in the games to come, and in this major tournament.
On the positive side for England, things should only get better from here on in. They will be leaving the sub-continent soon, and have a chance to hit the refresh button. Their losses, disappointing as they were, still saw them stack up two huge totals, highlighting the fact that they do have one of the best batting line-ups in international limited overs cricket. That the aforementioned trio of Bairstow, Billings and Duckett are failing to make the side points to the strength in depth that the selectors have to call upon. Their three twenty-twenty matches against India will provide some more white ball practice but, ultimately, the squad will be pleased to leave India. They have a great chance to finish the tour o a positive note if they can win the series, but their preparation for the Champions Trophy really begins in March, when they visit the West Indies. There is no test cricket scheduled now until after the tournament, meaning Eoin Morgan’s men can work together as much as possible, and focus on hitting their peak in the summer.
All in all, while the results of the series were largely disappointing, and while there are one or two question marks remaining over certain areas of the side, England still have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.