Balance vs. Results: The tough choices for England’s white-ball strategy

England has suffered due to a dearth of batting options while on tour, but they will be hoping for a World Cup dividend later this year.


While having too few batters exposes a T20 squad, having too many cooks ruins the broth. After recording totals of 156 and 117, both of which were easily chased down, England, which only selected five players for their three-match series in Bangladesh, finds itself 2-0 down.
Seven batters were included in the original 15-man England roster for this series. Then, while representing the England Lions in Sri Lanka, Tom Abell strained his side, and in the second ODI, Will Jacks hurt his quadriceps. Since there were no calls for substitutes, England’s Nos. 8 through 10, who were on the team that won the T20 World Cup in Australia, have batted at Nos. 6 through 8 in Bangladesh.

These three players, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, and Chris Jordan, are all capable athletes, but they haven’t done much to advance the game. It was difficult to overlook England’s imbalance during their defeat in Chattogram as they went from 91 for 4 to 117 all out before using Jordan with the ball in the 19th over.

Nasser Hussain was heard on Sky Sports’ coverage saying, “I don’t think it’s good enough just to say ‘we’re one batter short’ if we can’t put an additional batter or two on the field in Bangladesh as an England cricket team.” Hussain was clearly upset. ” You could see how much Bangladesh’s victory today meant to them. That game requires the same regard from us.”

Selection for this tour, however, has been a delicate balancing act because many members of the squad that went to New Zealand for the Test series were given time off prior to either the IPL or the English summer, and some white-ball specialists without central contracts chose to play in the Pakistan Super League instead.

Consider Jason Roy as an illustration. England could have asked Roy to remain put for an additional week when Jacks flew home, but doing so would have required giving up a portion of his PSL earnings in exchange for three England match fees. The ECB forfeited control of Roy’s schedule by choosing not to give him a central contract for 2022–2023, even though any cash loss would have been minimal.

The decision to not detain Roy in Bangladesh turned out to be advantageous in reality. He could have spent this week opening the batting against a potent Bangladesh attack in difficult circumstances, but instead, he flew back to Pakistan and crushed 145 not out off 63 balls for the Quetta Gladiators, an inning he dubbed his “favorite-ever” in a T20 career that has spanned over 300 matches.

Of course, a few minor stars may feel unfairly treated. Sam Hain, a much-improved T20 player who captained the England Lions in Abell’s absence at the conclusion of the Sri Lanka tour, would have added some stability to this batting line-up. Jordan Cox, who has been serving drinks for the Lahore Qalandars, was not included in the squad for England’s seven-match tour of Pakistan in September and may be wondering why he has not been given a chance all winter.

However, England’s obvious justification was that those players’ chances of competing in either the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and the US, which will take place in just 14 months, or the 50-over World Cup later this year were slim. They seized the opportunity to advance their all-rounders and provided them with practice on spinning subcontinent pitches as a result.

Jos Buttler said, “It’s a different balance, and it’s a different feel to the squad, wanting to give exposure to players, particularly in these conditions, who will probably also play a part in the 50-over World Cup. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to showcase the all-rounders, who may have batted one spot higher than they otherwise might have in our regular team. Additionally, given the current state of cricket, some stars have chosen not to participate for a variety of reasons. It seemed that using the players who would also be tested by these circumstances in the 50-over World Cup would be preferable to calling someone else up.

or example, giving Curran the opportunity to bat at No. 6 and face more balls than he typically does in T20 internationals would be worth the short-term pain of jeopardizing their chances of winning a rescheduled bilateral series that will soon be forgotten.
Since Rob Key and Matthew Mott took over as managing director and white-ball coach, respectively, last year, it has been the same logic that has guided England’s white-ball strategy, working back from major goals. Although having an additional batter in their lineup would have increased England’s chances of winning this game, they felt going without would better their chances of competing in the World Cup.

Why did Buttler remain closed Buttler?

Buttler was questioned about his choice to drop to No. 4 during a news conference following the game. He averages 49.20 with a strike rate of 152.22 as England’s opener, but he chose to bat lower in the order on Sunday for the first time in the previous five years. Moeen Ali took over for Dawid Malan, who had stepped up from No. 3 to the opening position.

Buttler stated, “We’ve clearly got a bank of left-handers in our middle order.” It was merely a chance to slightly alter that. I just thought it would be a nice change to ask the opposition some different questions and attempt to break up our left- and right-handers since Dawid Malan is very comfortable opening or batting at No. 3.”

Malan and Moeen’s advancements also allowed Bangladesh to wait until the sixth over to target Phil Salt’s vulnerability to left-arm spin, though Salt was ultimately dismissed by a left-arm spinner for the fourth time in five innings on this tour.
Buttler emphasized that he is “very at ease” playing anywhere in the lineup. “I’ve played middle-order for the vast majority of my tenure. I thought we had some good options, and this was an opportunity to attempt something new. I don’t really try to interpret it too much either way.” He will without a doubt reclaim the top spot as the 2024 T20 World Cup approaches.

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