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Cricket news - Jofra Archer impresses in rain-curtailed game
As head coach Trevor Bayliss said the day before this game, there are still a couple of big calls which need to be made when England's management sit down to select their final World Cup squad. Big calls with potentially career defining consequences. They won't be easy, they won't be straightforward and you can be sure that by the time those decisions have been made, there will be some very disappointed players left to pick up the pieces.
As such, the Pakistan series presents those players not yet certain of selection, such as Joe Denly and a number of the fast-bowlers, with final opportunities to present their cases. The stakes do not get much higher. And with time running out before the squad has to be named, the last thing England's World Cup hopefuls need is for those last auditions to be washed out.
Playing just 19 overs here was certainly not what they likes of Denly and Liam Plunkett needed. A full game was what their doctor ordered but it was not to be this time round. "It is what it is," Plunkett said. "Even if it wasn't a World Cup, it would be frustrating. You want to play. All you can do, is when you get a chance, be your own selector and perform."
Here, we look at how some of those with most to prove fared at The Oval.
Despite the curtailed game, Archer probably sealed his World Cup spot with a brilliant four overs with the new ball. His average speed was just over 90mph and he found extravagant movement and bounce, starting with two maidens and the wicket of Fakhar Zaman, caught at slip by Joe Root off his eleventh ball which registered 93.2mph. For his twelfth, captain Eoin Morgan put himself at short leg.
Yes, it was only four overs - but it was enough. Of the four England quicks to bowl, Archer was comfortably the quickest and most threatening. He also displayed improved consistency from his debut in Ireland last week and such was his control, he operated for the most part with three slips, leaving plenty of gaps elsewhere. The conditions favoured bowling but even so, Archer was all over Pakistan's top order. His case has been made for the World Cup and probably the Ashes too.
"He's a class act," Plunkett said. "He rocked up, bowled really nicely with pace. It's always good to watch. It looks quite easy for him. He just ambles in and bowls 93mph. He makes it look effortless. With him in your squad, you're going to be a better team. He's done well. Whoever is bowling best should be in the squad. To me it doesn't matter who, if they come in and they're bowling well, they deserve to be there".
While Archer wowed at one end, England's leading seamer erred onto the pads more than he would have liked and found little, if any, swing. His rustiness was probably more down to a lack of rhythm than anything else. After all, he has played just four 50-over games for Warwickshire this season as the ECB look to manage his workload. This wasn't a bad showing by any means and he will be better for the run out; his pace was up too and he looked fit and strong.
Woakes has had a difficult 12 months because of a long-standing knee injury which he has to manage, and when he has played, form has been mixed. He averages 47 in that period, albeit across just nine ODIs. By contrast, in the 15 matches the year before, he averaged 24 with ball in hand. Such is his importance to Eoin Morgan at the front and death of the innings though that his World Cup place is, barring injury, is secure. A few more overs under his belt wouldn't go amiss, mind.
Liam Plunkett did what Liam Plunkett does - namely take an important wicket. He removed Babar Azam, Pakistan's best player, with a canny piece of bowling: a cross seam delivery nipping away from the right hander for Jos Buttler to catch the edge. In between times, however, Plunkett bowled a fair number of "hit me" balls - he went at nearly seven runs an over - and despite a few sharp deliveries, for the main he operated in the low-80s.
CricViz data proves Plunkett's speeds have fallen over the last three years but importantly for his World Cup prospects, he has a lot of credit in the bank. His experience and nous, as well as his undoubted skill in bowling cutters and slower balls in the middle overs, have been a key part of England's recent one-day success and won't be discarded easily. His strike rate of 30.1 is the best of any England bowler who has taken more than 50 ODI wickets and although he may be down on pace and coming to the end of his international career, England will be loathe not to take him to the World Cup.
"The last few games for Surrey I feel like I was getting some good rhythm," Plunkett said. "Today, I had a few balls up to the 90s again but I've always been up and down with my speeds. It's my variation from 80 to 90. I do that, not on purpose, but just because of my action. If I am picking up wickets, I am happy with that."
Perhaps the biggest loser today, through no fault of his own. An allrounder pick with a finite amount of time to prove himself who didn't get to bowl or bat. Neither did James Vince, of course - bat, that is - but Vince's World Cup place as the spare batsman is probably more guaranteed through Alex Hales' absence. The spinning all-rounder is looking over his shoulder after Bayliss said England will consider Liam Dawson for that role in the final 15-man squad. Denly needed an opportunity here.
Not that today settles his World Cup fate, but with Moeen Ali to come back in, Denly is likely to get only one more opportunity in this series and he needs to nail it. If the pressure was already on the Kent vice-captain before these five matches, it has ramped up a notch or two now.
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