After the euphoria of a 4-0 series whitewash against India and the presentation of a mace, what better way for England to march triumphantly forth than to play a One Day International against Ireland?
We jest, of course. We generally like to see the main cricketing nations play the associates every so often and hopefully matches such as this help raise the standards of Irish cricket. Although of course the last time these sides met, it was Ireland who taught England a lesson, as Kevin O’Brien twatted the English attack (including Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann) all around Bangalore.
Too often England enter the ODIs that follow a victorious Test series with a mixture of tiredness, misplaced confidence and nonchalance. Of course, playing ODIs after an elite Test series is like stopping of for a burger on the way home from scoffing the entire tasting menu at the Fat Duck restaurant, but such is the way of the schedules.
The squad for the upcoming series against India will be announced shortly, but in the meantime the selectors have opted for an intriguing blend of genuine youth and fringe players, to be captained by Eoin Morgan (notwithstanding his country of birth, an intriguing decision because Cook has only had five matches since being appointed captain). The likes of Jonathan Trott, Ravi Bopara, Craig Kiestwetter and Morgan are joined by Lions stars James Taylor and Ben Stokes. A similar mix is to be found in the bowling department, with newcomer Scott Borthwick supplementing the relatively experienced Samit Patel, Steve Finn and Graeme Onions.
Hopefully, by largely opting for players absent from the recent Tests, England will have an eagerness and exuberance that has often been missing in previous autumnal ODIs.
Meanwhile, the Irish squad feature several familiar names and faces, including the full XI who defeated England in the World Cup
WTS Porterfield*, AR Cusack, GH Dockrell, DT Johnston, NG Jones, EC Joyce, JF Mooney, KJ O’Brien, NJ O’Brien†, WB Rankin, PR Stirling, A van der Merwe, AR White, GC Wilson†
EJG Morgan*, JM Bairstow, RS Bopara, SG Borthwick, JW Dernbach, ST Finn, C Kieswetter†, G Onions, SR Patel, BA Stokes, JWA Taylor, IJL Trott, CR Woakes