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Cricket news - England's Jofra Archer decision: Who makes way?
On Monday, England's management group, captain and selectors will put the final touches on their World Cup squad. With Jofra Archer set to be included, one of the preliminary 15 will miss out. Perhaps even two.
Below, we assess those who will be nervously checking their phones ahead of Tuesday's official squad announcement...
The bearded quick was the most vulnerable of the seamers coming into the summer. Never mind the threat of Archer, Plunkett's drop in pace was of concern for all and performances at the start of Surrey's Royal London one-day cup campaign suggested a decline. There was a thought that, maybe, the World Cup had come a year too late for him.
However, a period of red-ball cricket allowed him to identify and correct a fault at the crease, and now that zip many thought was lost to the sands of time has been rediscovered. Ignoring slower deliveries, the average speed of his quicker balls has been 133 kph (82.6mph) in the three matches he has played. According to CricViz, it is the highest of his last four ODI series.
As it happens, it is the excluded set from the statistic which the 34-year old's true talents lie. All of England's quick bowlers possess a number of cutters and slower change-ups, but Plunkett's height and natural length into the hip of batsmen presents a different threat to overcome. He is also the most valuable in the middle overs. Since the 2017 Champions Trophy, Plunkett has 21 wickets between the 11th and 40th over, with the next highest English seamer taking nine.
Here at Leeds, with Plunkett rested, England struggled to make a dent in the Pakistan middle order after Chris Woakes had taken three wickets in the opening three overs. It took until the 27th to remove Babar Azam - a run out - before an excellent caught-and-bowled from Adil Rashid and some sharp work from Jos Buttler accounted for Shoaib Malik at the end of the 31st over to quell any threat of a late assault on England's total of 351 for nine. All three dismissals, the result of individual brilliance, relied on good fortune.
Oh and by the way - that seamer with nine wickets in the middle overs? Tom Curran...
It has become cliched when talking about the oldest Curran brother, but heck, it really does need saying again - he just relishes the big moments.
Part of his charm among the England group is how hard he works off the field and how focussed he is on it. And perhaps for the first time on the international scene, we have seen how multi-dimensional he can be.
His unbeaten 29 not out, featuring some neat innovation including lapping the ball over his head for six to get off the mark, helped England to a new Headingley ODI record of 351 for 9. He even took command of the situation at the death, turning down a bye off the penultimate ball to keep the strike as he felt better equipped than the non-striker to make the most of the final one. That nonstriker, by the way, was a man with 10 first-class centuries.
Such self-assurance is tailor-made for tournament cricket and it is hard to look at what he has done over the last three weeks and not pick him. Three wickets and an unbeaten 47 against Ireland have been followed up by six wickets in this series. His four for 75 at Trent Bridge was a tad expensive, but he removed set batsmen for his first two - Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam - and returned at the death to york Imad Wasim and undo Hasan Ali with a slower ball.
Long-term, Curran looks a perfect replacement for Chris Woakes, but in the next couple of months he provides Morgan with a go-to option at the beginning, middle and end of an innings.
Swinging the new white ball in the opening Power Play and taking wickets - in the simplest terms, this is what David Willey brings to the side. That he earned his reputation and call-up as an allrounder in domestic cricket is almost moot, considering he has never batted in the top six in 46 ODI matches, and only once at No.7.
Yet pick away ever-so-slightly at the role bestowed upon the left-armer and you notice it is one he is not fulfilling. During his debut year (2015), he took nine wickets in the first 10 overs, at an average of 17.6. However, from the start of 2016, he has managed just 15 during that same period, averaging 53.1 and with an economy rate of 5.53. There have been none in the four ODIs he has played this year.
Willey's main pull is the fact he is a leftie in a team of right-armers. Such a point of difference is worthy of extra consideration from the selectors, especially now as player match-up data - how certain batsmen perform against certain bowlers - is consulted exhaustively to put together the most effective XI.
But Archer, and Mark Wood finding an extra couple of yards, offer speed as that extra something, which may make Willey's angle redundant. Given Archer or Wood will take the new ball if they play, partnering with the primary opener Chris Woakes, the 29-year-old is something of a passenger if given a spot alongside them in an XI.
For what it's worth, his record outside the PowerPlay isn't *that* bad: 28 wickets and an economy rate of of 6.37. But others are more equipped and Willey could be relying more than he would like on Morgan's goodwill. At present, he looks the most under threat.
You have to feel for Joe Denly.
Named in England's preliminary World Cup 15 despite last playing an ODI in 2009, things were looking promising. A winter of international cricket, including a Test debut, had been something of a surprise, though earned through weight of runs. Soon, an international tournament would also be added to the CV. All he had to do was put in one, maybe two solid performances to seal his fate.
Yet as the curtain came down on this series, Denly had sent down just six overs and faced just 21 balls. With little opportunity to stake a claim, the 33-year old felt like an extra: in the background, irrelevant to the central narrative, positioned to be forgettable.
A lack of overs could be explained away by the nature of the pitches played on and the small boundaries at Bristol and Nottingham, though it must be said he bowled well at the latter, conceding just 27 runs from his five. But it was interesting that Denly, a top-order batsman in white ball cricket, batted at seven in his only visit to the crease. Evidently, he is not a serious contender for those positions, nor is he trusted to bowl his full allocation of leg spin.
All told, none of that is surprising. The very nature of tournament cricket requires players like Denly who can slot in for last-minute injuries not serious enough to end a player's participation beyond an upcoming match. He would be an excellent sub-fielder, too.
There is a chance Denly could still make it. England see it as a tad excessive to go into the tournament with seven quicks - including Ben Stokes - and so Archer's inclusion will come at the expense a quick. The only threat to Denly comes from outside the core group...
When Eoin Morgan told the BBC he had "17 names" in mind, ears pricked up. At the game's conclusion, he went into specifics of the 17: those stood alongside him with their medals and Jason Roy sat at home. But given Chris Jordan, the designated 17th man for this Pakistan series, returned home on Saturday, Dawson was the spectre at the post-match presentation.
Last-minute changes before a World Cup have been the blight of England sides in the past and this iteration have marched to the top of the world through consistency and clear-thinking. For that reason, it would be a bit odd if Dawson got the nod without being involved in this series.
But while Denly has been twiddling his thumbs, Dawson has been a key player for Hampshire in the one-day cup, assisting their push to regain their title with 18 wickets (with an economy rate of 4.11) and averaging 45 with the bat, including 106 against Surrey just three weeks ago. He is also a very capable fielder and has been trusted enough to field at point during his 12 England appearances so far.
It is worth remembering he was part of the ODI squad for last October's tour of Sri Lanka and ended up being replaced by Denly when he suffered a side strain. The direction England go in for this particular spot depends on whether they want the better batsman (Denly) or the better spinner (Dawson). Even if Dawson misses out, he will be first reserve should an injury befall Moeen Ali or Adil Rashid.
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