Jos Buttler’s brilliant unbeaten 110 gave England a dramatic victory over Australia in the fifth ODI and saw them wrap up a 5-0 whitewash. Every victory in the series was as emphatic as the last and Buttler was the star of the show, outstanding in every respect. But the likes of Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Eoin Moragn and Alex Hales also shone and England supporters will rarely enjoy a more comfortable series. Optimism abounds ahead of the World Cup, but just how excited should England fans be after this win?
Morgan’s men may have excelled, but Australia were also abject. The English fans took great joy in waving sandpaper at their foes, reminding them of the ball tampering scandal that saw them deprived of the services of star men Steve Smith and Dave Warner. The team that toured England looked lightweight in their absence. Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood – all superstars in their own right – were also missing, so Australia did not give a true account of their abilities. They have now lost 14 of their last 16 ODIs and slumped to a 34-year low of sixth in the world rankings.
But you can only beat what is put in front of you, and England were firing on all cylinders throughout. Player of the Series Buttler has rose two spots in the world batting rankings to reach 16th place, with 275 runs against Australia. He was excellent behind the stumps, displayed first rate glove work, and he played with energy and enthusiasm throughout, but with the bat he was imperious. Bairstow has moved up four places to 11th in the batting rankings after posting 300 runs in the series, which followed a strong 105 against Scotland (more on that later). Roy is now up three places to 20th, while Hales and Morgan are also in the top 25 in the world, and Joe Root holds onto sixth place.
England are currently brilliant in the batting department, but they is also cause for optimism with the ball. Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes are in the world’s top 10, while Moeen Ali has climbed to 13th. The latter took 12 wickets throughout the series, often at key times to halt Australia’s momentum. Leg-spinner Rashid is also crucial to England when it comes to white ball cricket, and he was devastating throughout. Liam Plunkett has been extremely dependable, and there could be more to come from Mark Wood and David Willey.
The best-reviewed betting sites on the market will offer odds on cricket, and England are currently the favourites to win it. Defending champions Australia are second favourites, and England’s comfortable victory over them should inspire optimism. The Aussies will be a different animal when the likes of Cummins and Hazlewood return, while Smith and Warner should be back for the tournament too. Yet England’s ODI team wiped the floor with them Down Under towards the end of 2017, when Australia had a strong team out, so they need not fear the Australians.
But England have not been entirely convincing, and their shocking defeat at the hands of Scotland a couple of weeks ago should serve as a stark warning against complacency. They cannot afford to buy into the hype too much, and they need to remain grounded and humble in the build-up to the World Cup. They are the world’s number one ranked ODI team for a reason, and the current set-up is brimming with star quality, plus they will enjoy home advantage at the tournament, but a lot can happen in a year and they need to maintain their current levels of desire and intensity.
© Cricket World