England are favourites for the Cricket World Cup, just like they have been for the last two years or so but the England cricket news of the past few months has mostly been of the negative variety.
Here’s what you need to know.
England Cricket News: What’s happened in 2019 so far?
England flunk Carribbean test
It looked like business as usual as England chased a stiff-looking 360 in the 1st ODI back in February, with Jason Roy and Joe Root scoring centuries. But just a couple of days later on the same ground, 289 from the Windies batting first, was more than enough: England were all out for 263.
The third ODI was washed out but there was no mercy from Eoin Morgan (103) and much less from Jos Buttler (150 off 77) when they contested the Fourth ODI. The 418 posted briefly looked like it could be chased after a brilliant century from Chris Gayle, his second of the series, but the hosts couldn’t quite get up.
No matter. England got just 113 batting first in Gros Islet and 77 off 27 from Gayle (again) made a mockery of England’s total. A tied series at 2-2 and a reminder England weren’t infallible. And they’ll be facing better sides than the Windies at the World Cup.
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Hales’ World Cup hell
Who said the England cricket bad boy was dead? This surely isn’t in the Ian Botham or even Phil Tufnell category of endless misdemeanours but (limited) involvement in a street fight in Bristol alongside Ben Stokes and not one but two failed tests for use of recreational drugs is a rapsheet of sorts and not the sort of England cricket new one tends to hear these days.
How the ECB handled it is a discussion for another day but how the senior England players handled it was pretty black and white. Or pretty black, as far as Hales was concerned. The likes of Eoin Morgan, Root, Stokes and Moeen Ali voted for Hales to be dropped for the World Cup. ‘Complete disregard for team values’ is how Morgan put it.
As it happens, Hales wasn’t going to be in the first XI anyway. That said, if something happens to Jonny Bairstow or Jason Roy, who would you rather have had come in: Hales or Joe Denly. Yeah, me too.
Archer throws his name in the hat
We’ve discussed Jofra Archer before but a lot has happened in England cricket news since then.
The likes of Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and David Willey quite frankly made fools out of themselves when expressing opinions on whether Archer should be selected or not. Woakes used the words ‘not be fair morally’ just because Archer had become eligible. Wood questioned whether Archer’s inclusion in England’s squad could spoil the team dynamic.
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For starters, whether Archer is or not selected is not up to them. Secondly, this is the England ODI cricket team, not an old boys’ club with secret handshakes and late suppers followed by cigars and brandy. If you’re good enough, you play. It doesn’t depend on how long you’ve been part of the club. And thirdly, their paranoia says more about them than it does about Archer. Willey certainly isn’t guaranteed a game, Woakes hasn’t been great of late despite being a key member of the side for the past few years and even Wood isn’t nailed on.
Archer responded by bowling ok on debut against Ireland (8 overs, 40 runs conceded, 1 wicket) but was better in the one-off T20 that followed against Pakistan. Four overs cost 29 runs and he took two wickets. Perhaps more crucially, his run out saw the back of dangerman Babar Azam.
The smart money is on Archer going to the World Cup.
England Cricket News: What’s the story?
You can see why England’s price hasn’t really moved much despite all this. Conditions in the Windies will be vastly different to what they will be in England so that’s not a result to worry about too much.
The Hales incident could actually have been a bigger storm than what it was. The ECB handled it badly but luckily for England, Morgan dealt with it well. At the moment it’s not a problem but if they lose one of their openers, it might well be.
As for Archer, whereas he’s very likely to be in the squad, he’s not certain to play the first game. Whichever way you look at it, he’s a nice option to have in store.