Chris Woakes expects plenty of England players to be waiting nervously by the phone as decision day over the final World Cup squad draws to a close.
National selector Ed Smith will unveil the final 15 at Lord’s on Tuesday and, while Woakes removed any fraction of doubt about his place in the pecking order with a decisive five-wicket haul against Pakistan at Headingley, somebody is going to be disappointed.
David Willey looks most vulnerable, the left-armer likely to pay the price for Jofra Archer’s emergence having been named in the preliminary squad last month, but there is another tough call to make as well.
Joe Denly also featured in the provisional party and against Pakistan but has not quite nailed down his utility role as versatile batsman and back-up spin option. Despite not featuring in any squads this summer, Hampshire’s Liam Dawson is a more reliable bowler and could be a late draft.
“Everyone will be looking at their phones,” said Woakes after propelling the team to a 54-run win and 4-0 series sweep in Leeds.
“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 over the series.
“In the last couple of years people have put in strong performances. 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 I suppose. It’s certainly driven us forward in this series.”
Speaking after the fifth one-day international, 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.
With six wins from six completed games thus far this summer, an expanded group has served the Dubliner consistently well and he will not be looking forward to thinning out the ranks.
Willey perhaps needed to do more than take one for 55 in his last nine-over audition but he does have a unique selling point as the only left-arm seamer in the squad. Denly and Dawson are essentially different answers to the same question too, complicating the deliberations.
“No, I don’t know the 15,” said Morgan.
“Every one of these guys should be proud of what we’ve achieved so far, the continuous improvement of performances throughout makes the selection meeting extremely difficult.
“But every single member of the 17-man squad here will play some role (at the tournament), due to the nature of injuries and illness and call-ups.”
Pakistan are also facing questions over the eventual make-up of their 15, having exceeded expectations with the bat but regressed with the ball and in the field.
Mohammad Amir and Shadab Khan are likely to be called after illnesses, but coach Mickey Arthur was keeping his cards close.
“Amir trained yesterday for the first time – the first time he was allowed to. If selected he’d be ready to go, but in in terms of selection we’ll talk tomorrow and finalise our squad,” he said.
“I take huge positives from this series. I thought our batting has gone to another level. Coming to England people said we were a 280 team and we dispelled that.
“But our bowling has been average at best and our fielding has been average at best.”
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Roy struck a superb 114 as England sealed the one-day series 3-0 with a game to spare, fearlessly breaking the back of a 341-run chase.
It was the Surrey opener’s eighth international century but possibly the least expected, after family matters took priority on the eve of the match.
Roy rejoined two-month old Everly at hospital after proceedings were wrapped up at Trent Bridge and, while the matter is not thought to be serious, his focus was admirable in trying circumstances.
“It was a very emotional hundred. I didn’t see it coming,” he told Test Match Special after England’s three-wicket win.
“I had a bit of a rough morning so this one is a special one for me and my family. It was my little one. We had to take her to hospital at 1:30 in the morning. I stayed there until 8:30am, came back for a couple of hours sleep and got to the ground just before warm-up and cracked on.”
Roy’s case might be exceptional but England are making a happy habit of emerging triumphant whatever the situation.
After high-scoring wins in Southampton and Bristol, England were again given plenty to do, with Pakistan posting 340 for seven. Roy’s boundary-strewn effort might gave the perfect platform but a wobble of four wickets in 17 balls left the contest hanging in the balance.
The required rate climbed but Ben Stokes emerged as the match-winner, hitting an undefeated 71 to see things through at the business end.
England’s stand-in captain Jos Buttler said: “For Ben to soak up that pressure, come through it and be not out at the end will give him lots of confidence. It was great to see him play in that fashion.
“He played fantastically well, we’d played great cricket in the whole game other than four poor overs with some soft dismissals.
“It’s great to watch Jason go about his work too. He’s been in great form and he was desperate to go on to his hundred. To watch him in full flow is exciting.”
Tom Curran also earned a nod from the skipper, showing off the all-round value that is likely to see him into the 15-man World Cup squad next week.
Curran took four for 75 with the ball, including centurion Babar Azam, and made 31 in an important stand with Stokes.
The Surrey all-rounder might have been run out on six had the fielding side or the third umpire correctly spotted that a second direct hit in the same passage of play had dislodged the one remaining bail as he scrambled to make his ground.
“With the bat, with the ball, I love his character. He just wants to be involved in the game, he had a fantastic day,” added Buttler.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed confirmed he did not appeal for the Curran run out but was as frustrated with some costly fielding errors as he was with that missed opportunity.
“We had enough runs on the board and if we field well we win this game,” he said.
“The coach told me (about the run out). I thought both bails had come out, I hope that if the third umpire seen it on the television he would tell the umpires as well.”
Another brilliant chase ensured England will head to the World Cup on the back of a series win over Pakistan, with Jason Roy and Ben Stokes staring down a testing total at Trent Bridge.
Roy gave the hosts the perfect start to their pursuit of 341, cracking 114 in 89 balls before four wickets tumbled quickly to put the result in the balance and left Stokes to shoulder the burden.
The all-rounder stood tall in a nervy finale, timing his run perfectly to finish with an unbeaten 71 and holding his nerve as Pakistan crumbled with a sequence of dismal fielding errors.
A three-wicket victory left England 3-0 up with one to play, still unbeaten this summer and with a high-pressure triumph under their belts.
Stokes flicked the winning run with three balls remaining but Pakistan will know they should have gone closer, overthrows, misfields and the failure to appeal for a run out against Tom Curran all undermining their efforts.
Curran had earlier taken four wickets to show his worth with ball in hand, while Babar Azam will feel unlucky to be on the losing side after a hard-fought 115.
With Jonny Bairstow rested, stand-in opener James Vince made a decent fist of his latest opportunity, making a pleasing 43 before bailing out of a big swing and playing on.
Roy, on the other hand, was destined for bigger things as soon as a mis-hit off Imad Wasim evaded the flapping Fakhar Zaman with his score on 25. The next ball disappeared for four and the pattern was set.
A top edge took him past 50 but there was no shortage of inspired hitting as Roy took just 32 balls to convert his century.
There were three notable sixes: an impudent ramp over fine leg that left Junaid Khan aghast, a meaty square pull and then a fleet-footed skip to leg that allowed just enough room to bludgeon into the crowd at cover. That stroke ensured his eighth England ton but the fun was soon over, feathering Hasnain softly down leg.
Pakistan seized their moment, making Roy’s the first of four wickets in 17 balls. Wasim took a prize pair, Joe Root off a clunky outside edge and Jos Buttler for an improbable duck, caught off the back of the bat attacking a full toss.
Moeen Ali found himself elevated to five but lasted just three balls.
Stokes and Joe Denly shaved 42 runs off the target before the latter fell to a one-handed return catch by Junaid Khan, whose fielding had verged on risible for most of the evening. That left exactly 10 overs remaining and 83 to get.
Curran made 31 of them after a life on six, short of his ground when a successful run out attempt failed to catch the attention of Sarfraz Ahmed or the umpires, but Stokes it was who owned the decisive moments.
The Pakistan innings was built around successive century stands led by Babar, 107 with Fakhar and 104 alongside Mohammad Hafeez.
That placed the tourists well at 220 for one and, although they were still able to add another 120 runs from the last 80 balls of the innings, the loss of six batsmen punctured their momentum.
Opening bowlers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood had earlier become instant contenders for the country’s quickest ever new-ball pairing, both men easing beyond the 90mph barrier.
Wood, bowling competitively for the first time in more than two months, wasted no time in making his mark on Imam-ul-Haq, who retired hurt after a nasty looking blow on the left elbow. The pain was palpable moments after impact, as the batsman leapt in discomfort and hit the turf.
That aside, it was attritional stuff for the home attack, with just two breakthroughs in 39 overs. Curran claimed the first, Fakhar well held by the sprawling Wood at third man for 57, and the Durham man returning to hurry up Mohammad Hafeez after a frantic but effective turn worth 59.
It was the lowest score of a high-scoring series but England’s consistent ability to go one better than their opponents is becoming an increasingly useful habit.
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