Niall O’Brien: England’s name on the World Cup thanks to Eoin Morgan

He thinks it's all over... already?

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As I said before, Jofra Archer has to play for England, not just be in the squad in my view, so that wasn’t a surprise.

The only raised eyebrow for me was Liam Dawson. He’s a very talented player but hasn’t been involved in the recent series and all of a sudden he’s been drafted in.

He’s very highly regarded, and a useful batsman down the order, he’s very economical with the ball and excellent in the field.

The temperatures are rising in England and pitches are flat and very dry, batsman-friendly tracks this summer, so I just wonder if the selectors are looking at possibly having the extra spinner in the side because of that.

It’s tough òn Joe Denly and David Willey, but as Eoin Morgan alluded to, it’s a long tournament, there’s a lot of games, and there’s going to be injuries. I’d be very surprised if England go through it without picking up one or two.

Those left out just have to be ready to go if the chance arises.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 21: Eoin Morgan Captain of England talkes to the media during the England Cricket World Cup Kit Launch on May 21, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images for ECB)

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Carve England’s name on World Cup now

I can’t see anyone beating this England team anyway.

They’re so dominant. They’re playing with such confidence, flair and freedom. No other team in the world can run them close in this.

There’s no side playing with the verve and vigour of Eoin Morgan’s team right now.

Obviously, it only takes one loss in a big game to turn that around, but at the moment I’d be etching their name on the world cup trophy already!

It’s an impressive turnaround. At the 2015 World Cup, they were appalling, anyone who played in that tournament will accept that. They were bowled out by Bangladesh in an embarrassing defeat at Adelaide.

LEEDS, ENGLAND – MAY 19: Eoin Morgan applauds his team mates after the 5th Royal London ODI match between England and Pakistan at Headingley on May 19, 2019 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Eoin Morgan, Paul Farbrace and Trevor Bayliss said enough’s enough. Players like Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Ian Bell were done away with. They brought in a new breed of cricketer, the likes of Johnny Bairstow, who can just take a game away from you in minutes.

A lot of the credit has to go to the Irishman. I really can’t stress that enough. Everywhere you go in English cricket, they put it down to Eoin Morgan and his positive approach.

You watch when he goes out to bat. First or second ball, he’s on the attack. He doesn’t wait for bad deliveries, he makes them.

I put a lot of the turnaround down to the Dubliner. I’ll be at Lords in July for the World Cup final, and I’m in no doubt that he’ll be there doing his thing with the bat and picking up the trophy.

One Day International Tri-Series, Clontarf Cricket Club, Dublin 15/5/2019
Ireland vs Bangladesh
Ireland’s Paul Stirling celebrates a century
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Afghan series a missed opportunity

Ireland won’t be there, sadly. Before their two-match Afghanistan series, 1-1 would’ve been the call. These two teams have gone toe-to-toe for the last six years in ODIs. They drew a series 2-2 in March this year in India, so I wasn’t surprised. It looks a fair result.

After putting in such a dominant performance in the first match though, not to back it up and lose so tamely in the second will be a real disappointment for the lads.

A series win over a World Cup team would’ve given them a massive boost after a tough summer so far.

The Afghans bounced back well but Ireland gave them way too many runs and never looked like chasing them down. Over 300 was par in Clontarf in the Tri-Nations series, but at Belfast, it was about 30 or 40 above. It was always going to be a tough task to chase that score.

Only Paul Stirling got going really. He’s found some unbelievable form recently and has 11 scores of 50 or more in 17 ODIs versus Afghanistan, but apart from his innings, Ireland never really looked like threatening the 300 mark. It looked like the game was gone as soon as he got out.

One Day International Tri-Series, Malahide, Dublin 11/5/2019
Ireland vs West Indies
Ireland head coach Graham Ford with Batting and Fielding coach Ben Smith
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Experience for younger players

Coach Graham Ford has learned more about his players now. Mark Adair has really stepped up. He showed glimpses with the bat in the matches in Dublin, but in this series, he ‘s been excellent with the ball. and picked up wickets for his effort.

James McCollum is really battling for his place now at opener. The selectors have to make a call whether he opens in the Zimbabwe series.

The big plus from this series though was Andy McBrine. He made a statement against Afghanistan. He should be in the team every game from now on.

He’s never let Ireland down. Every time he’s played he’s done a good job with the ball. He’s a much more attacking spinner than George Dockrell. He looks like he’s not trying to take wickets, but is only trying to contain opponents

You cannot do that in the one-day format nowadays. You have to attack to get wickets.
It’s just a fact of the modern game that you’ll go for runs so you can’t bowl like that.

One Day International Tri-Series, Malahide, Dublin 11/5/2019
Ireland vs West Indies
A view of the total score after Irelands 50 overs batting
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Times a-changin’ for Ireland

Ireland’s ups-and-downs of this summer are to be expected for the next couple of years if the selectors are true to their word that they’re going to blood young players. The ODI Zimbabwe series is a good one to gauge where Ireland are. I’d expect Ireland to win it. If they don’t it’s a big miss.

The T20 series will be difficult. They’re a handy side and Ireland are generally not very good in this format of the game, but home conditions should see it evenly contested. And the Test match in July is an opportunity to show their skills on a one-off occasion and make a mark on the cricket map, and then the winter has the T20 qualifiers.

So there’s not a huge amount of cricket left to come for the team. Zimbabwe has to be used to get some more lads in, players who are performing domestically, get them in. That’s the key to Ireland taking the next step.

It’s a chance for Ford, the selectors, and chairman Andrew White to look to the future.

The team is heading in the right direction, there have been losses but new faces were needed.

There are a few others I’d like to see get a chance. Harry Tector’s a good batsman, can bowl useful off-spin and he’s exceptional in the field. Lorcan Tucker or Neil Rock should be considered at wicketkeeper in the series too. I’m not quibbling about Gary Wilson’s form behind the stumps, but he’s gone through a lot this winter past in terms of injuries.

It’s a question of the long-term. Where do Ireland see the wicketkeeping position in two or three years time?

Both Tucker and Rock are young, talented cricketers. This is an opportunity for them. Gary’s form with the bat hasn’t been anything to write home about, so it makes sense to have a look at these guys now.

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