Updated: Nov 10, 2020
Have any new faces put forward their name for next year's world T20?
Despite the ravaging impact of Covid-19, England still managed to hold multiple cricket series over the summer, with T20 and Odi series against Australia, Pakistan and Ireland.
Due to injuries, a reoccurring problem for the England side, Roy, along with Root and Butler's absences meant the opening of the door to Billings, Banton and Malan to try and cement their places in what is the world number one team, i say smiling to myself. Similarly Willey and Mahmood will be looking to fight for congested bowling positions, temporarily freed up by the Archer and Wood axis being absent.
Ireland (Odi) series
Coming into the short game this summer expectations from a demanding fan base were still extremely high of the back of last summer's heroic world cup win. However, with Stokes Butler and Root all busy with Test cricket, the gauntlet was thrown down for the fresh talent of Banton, Vince or Billings to pick it up. Whilst the new batting line-up sparked curiosity and the usual intense fan debates, it was the bowling which impressed throughout the Ireland series. David Willey, clearly gutted at missing out on a world cup place by the thinnest of margins, revelled in his position of opening the bowling, taking 5-30 in a stunning display that reminded the selectors on what they might have missed out on. Saqib Mahmood also impressed with 2-36 not doing justice to what was a disciplined display.
Whilst Banton and Vince scuppered their chances at cementing a place in what appears to be an impenetrable batting line-up, Billings stood up with a fluent but measured 67 of 54 balls in this first match. With 11 fours Billings carried England to a reassuring victory but also added a calming presence towards the end of the innings which is usually dominated by wild six hitting of the likes of Stokes and Butler.
Similar bowling performances in the second Ireland match once again demonstrated Willey's reliability but also Mahmood's persistent ability to hit line and length consistently. Together, with the experienced bowling of veteran Rashid, Willey and Mahmood reduced Ireland to a below par 212/9. Mahmood, claiming two wickets again, did stray wide on multiple occasions, throwing caution to the wind as to whether he can hold his nerve in high pressure matches. None of those wides mattered however as in the end Billings dragged England home with another classy 46 not out, composing what was nearly another calamitous English middle-order batting collapse.
Player of the series: Billings
Best performance: Willey-(5-30) 1st Match
Having missed out on the Ireland series, Banton took on the Pakistan spinners in the rained off first t20, firing a 42 ball 71 at a blistering strike rate of 169. Banton, reminded those who have seen glimpses of his six hitting abilities in the Big Bash just how devastating he can be once in full flow. Opening the batting seemed to suit Banton too, who struck another fluent 46 from just 31 balls in the final t20, sandwiching a quick-fire 20 in the second t20. Whilst Banton's six hitting is remarkable the question as to whether he can push for an openers spot, his clearly favoured position, is heavily clouded given the excellence of Bairstow and Roy.
Bairstow, in the second t20, hit a fiery 44 with a strike rate of 183 to back up his stunning 82 in the Ireland series consistently reminding both the fans and selectors that in a three match series he will always guarantee a magical performance or two. On the other hand, the out of form Roy, combined with his frequent injuries, continues to offer a glimmer of hope for Banton. However, Buttler, having opened for the Rajistan Royals in the IPL will likely smother that glimmer.
Dawid Malan has always been an exciting player for England in the t20 format with an exceptionally high t20 average of 48.7 which was done justice by some powerful batting performances. In particular his second t20 performance of 54 not out of just 36 balls and his strike rate of 150.00 being indicative of the fluency and ease at which the ball comes onto the bat at this point in Malan's career.
Man of the series: Banton
Moment of the series: Malan's 54 of 36 balls (2nd t20)
Malan well and truly capitalised on a late summer short ball series against Australia scoring 129 runs in the t20 series, the most out of any Australian or English batsman. Scoring 66 then 42 Malan drove England to a quick 2-0 series victory over Australia. Whilst Malan wont be playing in the ODI team, after this summer he is almost a guarantee for that no. 3 slot.
Billings similarly performed at his best in the Australian ODI series scoring a series defining 118 run century in the first ODI and finishing the series with another composed run-a-ball 57. Despite losing the ODI series England took away something better, in the form of this young talent. Billings has always been knocking on the door of the England team however injuries and stiff competition have limited his national career. With the increasing likelihood of Root missing out due to his limited six-hitting ability Billings is likely to be seen more often next year in that blue jersey.
2021 England predicted Odi line up
Wood Reserves: Banton Ali Willey
2021 T20 predicted line up
Wood Reserves: Banton Willey Maqhmood