Australia v England – Five things we learned
Five things we learned from England’s 4-1 series victory.
England partially avenged their Ashes defeat by dominating the one-day internationals Down Under, winning 4-1 for a first ever bilateral series win in Australia.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at five lessons from the 50-over leg of the tour.
England are real World Cup front-runners
There is no traditional English reserve when it comes to the ECB’s one-day ambitions – having missed out on last year’s Champions Trophy, nothing less than a World Cup win at home in 2019 will do. On this evidence, they have the tools to get the job done.
By taking Australia down in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth – each in slightly different circumstances – they exhibited skill, steel and the benefits of a settled team. With 18 months to refine things and priceless benefits of home advantage, the Three Lions are surely the team to catch at this stage.
Morgan’s leadership more important than his runs
Eoin Morgan the captain has had a superb couple of weeks, coping admirably with the lack of Ben Stokes and shuffling his options impressively.
He instils clarity and confidence in those who take the field with him and demands they aim high at all times. Eoin Morgan the batsman is in a funk, struggling for timing and runs.
He did, of course, score three one-day centuries in 2017 but even if his form never returns to its peak, the Dubliner’s presence remains vital to the entire project.
Pressure on places
At times in the past year the selectors have been searching in vain for players ready to build lasting Test careers, but the opposite is true in the white-ball arena.
Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales appear to be playing for two places, with Stokes a certainty to return once his legal issues are resolved, and will continue to keep each other honest at the top of the order.
Tom Curran’s match-winning turn in Perth took him from back-up man to genuine contender and the talented Sam Billings could not get a game. It is now a squad with real depth.
Root has the right role
Given Australia’s glittering history in one-day cricket, it was refreshing to hear Australia skipper Steve Smith laud England’s methods throughout the campaign. One theme he returned to often was Root’s ability to hold the innings together and let others tee off around him.
Smith tried to perform a similar role and conspicuously failed. Root has finessed his job brilliantly over a two-year period, scoring at a solid rate while keeping the percentages firmly in his favour.
His boundary count is typically well below his top-order colleagues but his ability to pick gaps and thread the infield means he never gets bogged down.
Managing Wood is key
From the moment Mark Wood hustled David Warner with a vicious bouncer in Melbourne, it was clear what an asset the Durham man is.
But the fact he has played just 10 Tests, 23 ODIs and two T20s by the age of 28 shows how physically fragile he has been in his career to date.
If England are to get the best from him in the coming years they will need to monitor him closely and pick their battles. Australia’s management of Ryan Harris’ late career should be the template.