England‘s selectors will settle on a final 15-man World Cup squad on Monday, with the fates of David Willey, Joe Denly and potential wildcard Liam Dawson to the fore.
Just one of those three seems likely to make the cut, with deliberations between national selector Ed Smith, his deputy James Taylor and the captain-coach axis of Trevor Bayliss and Eoin Morgan determining who gets the good news.
Of those who were named in a preliminary squad last month, Alex Hales has already been cast aside for off-field transgressions, replaced by James Vince as the supplementary batsman, while Willey looks likeliest to pay for Jofra Archer’s easy transition to the international stage.
The Yorkshire left-armer has been a feature of the limited-overs set-up throughout the past four years but, with Archer now a certain pick and Tom Curran seemingly improving by the match, he needed to make a major statement in Sunday’s fifth and final one-day international against Pakistan.
England won by 54 runs at Headingley to take the series 4-0 but Willey’s return of one for 55 in nine overs was not the kind that shifts the narrative.
Denly watched from the sidelines in Leeds and must be wondering about his own fate following a peripheral role in the campaign.
Dawson has not featured since a side strain in Sri Lanka last October but the slow left-armer has performed consistently at domestic level and has featured in management discussions as a potential rival for Denly.
He is comfortably the better spin bowler but lacks Denly’s ability to cover any batting slot in the order. The verdict, when it comes, may be a tight one.
One bowler who can surely rest easy is Chris Woakes, who bagged five for 54 in a match-winning cause on Sunday, but even he is not immune to the odd pang of nervous tension.
“Everyone will be looking at their phones tomorrow,” said the Warwickshire seamer.
“Everyone will be wary of that phone call. Even if you feel like you’ve got a good chance to being in the squad, until you hear it from selectors’ mouths, it’s not quite set in stone.
“As a player you’re still probably a little bit on edge, particularly with this 16 and 17 players because everyone has performed at some point.
“It’s a tricky decision for selectors and I’m glad I’m not having to make that decision, but it has to be done.”
Speaking after the fifth ODI, which saw England set a new ground record of 351 for nine before dismissing the tourists for 297, captain Eoin Morgan admitted he was still unsure about who would miss out.
“I don’t know the 15, I could pick 17 names at the moment,” he told Test Match Special.
“It is going to be an extremely tough selection. Every member of the squad has made the decision even tougher.
“There will be a couple of disappointed men in the next few days but those guys, given the nature of high-level sport with injuries and illness, could be called upon during the World Cup.”
It’s both a dead rubber and a dress rehearsal today as England take on Pakistan in the final ODI for both sides before the World Cup.
Two weeks tomorrow, England play Pakistan in the tournament, back at Trent Bridge, where they met on Friday.
Today, with rather less of a buzz in the air, they meet at Headingley for the fifth and final one-day international. England hold an unassailable 3-0 lead.
England: 1 Jonny Bairstow, 2 James Vince, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (c), 5 Jos Buttler (w), 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 David Willey, 9 Chris Woakes, 10 Tom Curran, 11 Adil Rashid.
Pakistan: 1 Fakhar Zaman, 2 Abid Ali, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Sarfaraz Ahmed (c, w), 6 Mohammad Hafeez, 7 Asif Ali, 8 Imad Wasim, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Mohammad Hasnain, 11 Shaheen Afridi.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed lamented his side’s performance in the field after England claimed an unassailable 3-0 lead in their five-match ODI series on Friday.
After failing to defend a target of 359 in the third ODI, Sarfraz and his team disappointed again by suffering a three-wicket defeat in the fourth match at Trent Bridge after posting a first innings score of 340/7.
“Tough luck, we put runs on the board but our bowling and fielding was not up to the mark,” the 31-year-old said.
Sarfraz was particularly critical of the fielding with centurion and match-winner Jason Roy dropped by Fakhar Zaman off Imad Wasim while on 27.
Their failure to defend huge scores back-to-back is a real concern with this summer’s World Cup kicking off on May 30.
“If we took catches and executed better, that was the difference. We have been working hard, but the way we are fielding is not up to the mark, with the World Cup coming.”
The wicketkeeper-batsman also rued the quality of the bowling in the death overs when they needed to restrict the hosts only for Ben Stokes to finish things off with an unbeaten 71 off 64 deliveries.
“We missed yorkers, Mohammad Hasnain only playing his fourth match so they will learn.”
Pakistan have a couple of injury concerns heading into the fifth and final ODI on Sunday.
In-form opener Imam-ul-Haq retired hurt on just 3 after a Mark Wood delivery in the fourth over struck him on the his left elbow. Meanwhile, Mohammad Amir has reportedly come down with chicken pox but has been named in the World Cup squad.
“Imam will hopefully be okay [for Sunday], a bruise on the elbow, but I’m not sure about Amir,” Sarfraz revealed.