I need to introduce a new cricketing phrase to your vocab, folks.
“To Vince” – to look beautiful for the short time you are at the crease but, ultimately, get out, as ever, in the mid-30s
Fair play to Vincey, though.
At least on Sunday, it wasn’t for wafting at one outside off stump. Oh, no. He’s improved that. Instead, he carted a long-hop, albeit a quickish long-hop, to deep midwicket to give away his chance of batting his way into England’s World Cup squad.
I mean, it’s not as if there’s a bit of stiff competition for spots or anything. Could James Vince have not just held back a fraction? Pretty much throughout this ODI ‘series’, which has been little more than a glorified training session for England, there’s been a ton there for anyone who wants one. I’ll forgive Jason Roy taking three bites of the cherry to get there. The same goes for Joe Root and Eoin Morgan. You know these boys will (hopefully) stand up and be counted when it really matters. Ben Stokes won’t be overly worried and even Moeen Ali will be fairly confident that even despite his two ball dismissal on Sunday that he’s safe as houses.
But Vince? I’m not convinced he could take his chance if he was allowed to bat all day every day for the next year in England colours. By the end of that little experiment, we’d have learned at least 354 different ways of getting out in the 30s.
But what beautiful 30s they would be.
So let’s recap this ODI battle.
England won it.
England won it doing whatever they decided they wanted their challenge to be that day, I should say.
In the first (second because the actual first one got rained off) match, Jos Buttler scared the life out of every bowling attack in the World Cup with a brutal 110 not out off about 10 balls. Alright, it was 50. England successfully defended their 373, just, winning by 12 runs.
In the second match, they mixed up the middle order to give Stokes and Moeen a go. End result? Roy and Jonny Bairstow set off like steam trains and England chased down 358 with 5 and a bit overs remaining. That’s their second ever highest run chase ticked off whilst mucking about with the batting order so that someone else gets a go. That’s one of the highest ever ODI run chases whilst treating it like a Sunday match so that everyone gets a proper bat and a bowl.
In the third match, they were without Morgan who was, hilariously, suspended because of a slow over-rate in the previous match. Well, if the ball does keep getting hit out of the ground and all that. Roy got his ton after missing out twice and Vince, well Vincey got 43. It was a lovely 43. England then mocked up a batting collapse to give the lower-order bats some practice in chasing. They chased and Tom Curran saw them home with three balls to spare. Just the 340 knocked off this time.
And so to Sunday’s game at Headingley. Morgan decided this time that it would be good for England to pretend that they’ve lost the toss and bat first. So they did. As I have alluded to, Vince didn’t take his chance. Other than Ali, everyone contributed with the bat to some degree and Pakistan were set 352 to win.
Being 6/3 off three overs made another successful chase in the series a little unlikely.
So, what have England learned from this farcical practice series?
Roy, Bairstow, Root, Morgan, Buttler and Stokes make the top six no questions asked. But who will be the replacement bat? It’s between Joe Denly, who has been unremarkable but can bowl a bit of spin, and James Vince who, well you know, could get some glorious to watch runs.
It’s not the batting that should be any concern whatsoever. The bowling hasn’t been amazing but then some concession should be made for the fact that each track so far has been designed purely with an absolute run-fest in mind. It’s not that Pakistan cannot bat; far from it. They are as capable as anyone when it comes to smacking 300+ on a road. It’s just that they cannot field well enough or, at times, bowl well enough to defend it against a team like England.
But it is a bowler who is going to have their heart broken when the final squad is announced.
Why? Jofra Archer.
He’s an X-factor player. He has to be in the squad. And that means someone else won’t be. I’m presuming Chris Woakes and Tom Curran are sleeping OK at the moment. Adil Rashid knows he’s guaranteed a spot (especially after that caught and bowled). But Mark Wood, David Willey, Liam Plunkett and Chris Jordan must all be ranking themselves in order or most likely to make way for Archer.
Jordan’s never really been in the running for a spot and, personally, I can’t see the point of having Joe Denly there; so what if he can bowl spin? We have Rashid, Ali and, if needed, Joe Root to do that. For me, and what do I know, it makes more sense to keep the variation with the bowlers – Wood and Archer for sheer scare-the-life-out-of-them pace. Curran for variation and cunning (as well as his mad batting). Plunkett and Woakes for just knowing how to bowl in ODIs in England. And Willey, well having a left arm swing option is never a bad a thing with a 1030am start and some cloud cover, right?
And, our batting tail is that strong that even if we did lose two bats for whatever reason we could call in Vincey, you lucky boy, and move everyone up one. There’s not many sides that can have a Tom Curran batting at ten, after all. And Adil Rashid has to be the best number 11 in the ODI game, no?
So, my squad would be; Roy, Bairstow, Root, Morgan, Buttler, Stokes, Ali, Woakes, Curran, Rashid, Archer, Wood, Plunkett, Willey, Vince.
Just watch Pakistan go and win the thing now; they’re very, very good value for a bet.