England’s white-ball coach, Matthew Mott, has challenged players on the fringe of the first team to raise their game and stake a claim for a place in the Twenty20 World Cup squad. Having said that he sees little difference between the two formats under his remit and the 50-over series starting on Tuesday is another chance for these players to impress him.
“I don’t think it’s all locked in yet,” Mott said of his plans for October’s World Cup in Australia. “We’ve got a fair idea of what we think the right make-up is, but you want players to come in and perform and really warrant that spot. It’s still open for a lot of players and that’s why we are having looks at different combinations and trying to learn a bit about what our best make-up is.”
One player who has advanced his cause is Reece Topley. Having played just 27 internationals since making his debut in 2015, the left-arm seamer is firmly in contention for a place in England’s best XI after his three for 22 at Trent Bridge on Sunday put the brakes on India’s run chase in his team’s 17-run win.
Richard Gleeson also proved his worth with his ability to bowl at various stages of the innings. He followed his three for 15 in Birmingham on Saturday with another tidy display, pinning the dangerous Ravindra Jadeja with a yorker at the death.
The win gave Jos Buttler his first victory as full-time captain and despite losing the series 2-1 Mott said: “We learned a lot of lessons in the first two games. India came out with a really attacking mindset and put us under pressure a lot. We expected that but the ferocity of it took us by surprise a little bit.
“In the last couple of games we’ve got a lot better and it was an unbelievable experience for some of those bowlers who have rarely done that at international level for a while, or ever.”
England welcome back Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow for the 50-over series and the subsequent games with South Africa starting on 19 July. All three starred in the Test team and Mott is banking on them carrying their form across formats. “They’ve been starved a bit of the coloured clothing and they’re looking forward to getting back into the group,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll have to change a hell of a lot the way they’ve been playing.”
Their added knowhow should prove invaluable to Buttler as he continues to find his feet in his triple role of captain, wicketkeeper and opening batter. Mott heaped praise on his captain, describing him as “magnificent under pressure”, and commended his leadership abilities despite his struggle for runs in the series.
“That shows a lot about his character and his presence in the group,” Mott said. “When he starts scoring runs, that conversation will die off pretty quickly. Jos will be himself. And that’s all I’ve said to him. Just because you’re captain, you’re batting, keeping, all that, you lead from the front and then the leadership will take care of itself.
“The way he responded, especially after the second loss and the series loss, he spoke exceptionally well in the group about these being the times where you learn about character.”
Mott has promised his team will continue to be brave with bat and ball. With only so many holes left to fill in the squad, it may be gumption, rather than skill, that proves the difference.