Revisiting The 2005 Ashes Series

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Andrew Flintoff consoles Brett Lee after England defeated Australia by 2 runs at Edgbaston in 2005

There are many different things you can do to pass the time during this unprecedented period of self isolation, social distancing and lockdown. Some run. Some eat. Some watch six hours worth of 2005 Ashes highlights. I’ve chosen to do all three, and with no end in site there’s a very real possibility I’ll watch re-runs of old ODI series between England and Bangladesh before this thing is over.  Back to the task at hand –  here are five thoughts that crossed my barren mind while consuming the fantastic 2005 Ashes highlights in their beautiful entirety, plus a look at what happened in the aftermath of that glorious summer 15 years ago.

Even Shane Warne bowled the occasional pie

Leg spinners have it rough. Theirs is the hardest skill in cricket to master, and seldom are they given the opportunity to master an art that takes years to learn, hone and perfect. Shane Warne is beyond comparison, the best leg spinner the world has ever seen. He’s possibly the best bowler the game has produced, full stop. But watching the highlights from 2005 showed that even Warne had a few full bungers in his locker. The Victorian took an unfathomable 40 wickets at 19.92 in the series, fantastic figures, yet clips of the action demonstrated that yes, even the best leggie of them all will struggle to land all of his deliveries. Maybe that’s something to consider next time a young up and coming wrist spinner is being torn to pieces by the media, and given short shrift by their county selectors.

Brett Lee didn’t have the series you remember

Think back to that 2005 series. You’ll remember Brett Lee castling more than a few batsman, sending off stumps flying towards the slip cordon, Binger pinging batsmen in the helmet, raw aggression and searing pace on show. He had a brilliant series, right? Wrong. Lee averaged 41.10 with the ball – only one run better off than the green Shaun Tait, who appeared in the final two tests of the tour. What’s more, Lee was taken at 4.29 runs per over. Warne and Glenn McGrath were superb throughout the series, but if they’d had just a little more support the eventual 2-1 scoreline may not have come to fruition for their hosts.

Geraint Jones wasn’t long for the test arena

Re-watching these highlights, Jones’ batting was passable. He contributed a valuable 85 at Trent Bridge, and produced a valiant first innings knock at Lords. It was widely accepted that his batting was the reason he was in the team to begin with, as his wicket keeping was not quite up to test standard. However, his average of 25.44 certainly did not make up for some quite lacklustre work behind the stumps. By my count in the highlights he missed two simple stumpings and dropped at least six catches – one or two were difficult but none of which you wouldn’t expect a test keeper to snaffle. By contrast, Adam Gilchrist, whose ‘keeping tended to fly under the radar due to his destructive batting, made a couple of fantastic grabs off Warne’s beguiling spin, although he did spill a couple of chances standing back to the seamers. Back to Jones – all told, he averaged 23.91 by the end of his 34 match test career, with his final England appearance coming at Perth against the Australians in the consequent Ashes tour of 2006/7. The less said about that one, the better. However, it would be remiss to discuss Jones’ role in the 2005 without his history altering leg-side take of Michael Kasprowicz at Edgbaston – perhaps the most famous grab in Ashes folklore.

Damien Martyn copped some horrific umpiring

Martyn didn’t have a great series in 2005. It flew under the radar at the time, with a lot more focus placed on the struggles of Matthew Hayden, Gilchrist and Michael Clarke, but Martyn scored just 178 runs at 19.77. However, that should come with a caveat. He was absolutely triggered on numerous occasions, twice smashing the ball before it struck his pad. Regardless, up the umpire’s finger went and ‘Damo’ was on his way. It was interesting watching the series again to observe how it was umpired by messrs Bucknor, Boweden, Dar and Koertzen. Bowden was superb and made a crucial call at The Oval not to give Kevin Pietersen out caught behind when Glenn McGrath had a loud appeal during KP’s historic second innings knock of 158, while Bucknor made numerous howlers and unfortunately struggled to match the standards set by his peers. Martyn certainly fell foul of those incorrect calls, while some loud appeals saw Warne and Steve Harmison, among others, claim scalps that wouldn’t have stood had DRS been in place back in 2005.

Andrew Flintoff really was that good

Everyone remembers the 2005 series as the pinnacle of ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’s career, and rightly so. But it was astounding just how good he was, not just throughout the series but at the crucial junctures which ultimately decided where the famous urn would reside for the next 18 months. 402 runs at 40.20 was a higher total than any Australian managed, and with the exception of Harmison came at a higher strike rate than any of the players who participated across the five test matches. Flintoff bent the game to his will, with match winning innings at both Edgbaston and Trent Bridge. His bowling was also exceptional, we all remember ‘that over’ he bowled at Edgbaston to Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting, but the overall numbers were just as astounding. His 24 wickets were more than anyone but Warne, and it’s also worth noting that he bowled more overs than anyone but the blonde Victorian. That’s right, the famously brittle Flintoff chucked down more overs than Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Simon Jones and even spinner Ashley Giles.

What happened next: England

As previously mentioned, Geraint Jones was in and out of the side for a year or so before being cast aside altogether as England went through an underwhelming rebuild that never truly bore fruit until 2009 when Andy Flower took charge. Simon Jones, captain Michael Vaughan and Flintoff all struggled with injury. Jones sadly played his last test at Trent Bridge during the 2005 Ashes despite being just 26 years old, while Flintoff, who was 27 at the end of the series, played 27 more tests as a reduced version of the prolific all-rounder who shaped the series. Vaughan played 20 more tests and scored just three centuries as his international career also reached an injury induced conclusion – the legendary skipper retied at 33.

Marcus Trescothick suffered through well documented mental health issues and was also never the same player after 2005, while Matthew Hoggard was really the only frontline bowler to continue playing at a high level post-Ashes. Both Harmison and Giles were largely ineffective, although it’s worth noting that Paul Collingwood, who played at The Oval, went on to enjoy a fine run in the side as a middle order batsman until his retirement in 2011. Of course, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss went on to reach 100 test matches and score a plethora of international runs, although Strauss struggled with poor form between 2006 and 2008 and was nearly out of the side himself before a career saving century in New Zealand. Similarly, Ian Bell never fully cemented his place in the England side until 2010, when he began to string substantial scores together as part of a top six featuring KP and Strauss.

In terms of results, following the 2005 Ashes England would lose 2-0 in Pakistan later that winter, draw 1-1 in India before returning home and drawing 1-1 against Sri Lanka. Later during the 2006 summer they defeated Pakistan 3-0 before losing 5-0 in Australia and handing the urn straight back. It was a massively anti-climatic period after the previous two or three years of domination, with the aforementioned injuries and a lack of form for previous stand out performers a key reason. However, Collingwood and Alistair Cook came to the fore during that lean spell, helping to lay some of the foundations of the all conquering 2009-2012 team.

What happened next: Australia

Post-2005, Australia were hell bent on avenging their Ashes defeat and were, quite frankly imperious. They defeated the West Indies 3-0 at home. They subsequently beat South Africa 2-0 in a three test series. Next, they visited South Africa and vanquished their hosts, winning all three tests. Bangladesh were beaten 2-0, and of course England were whitewashed 5-0 that winter. While the majority of the 2005 touring party remained, there were a couple of notable additions during that period who complimented Ponting, Warne, Hayden, McGrath et all such as Michael Hussey, who by the end of the 2006/7 Ashes averaged an astonishing 79.85 from 16 test matches, and Stuart Clarke, who took 26 wickets (most on either side) and averaged 17.03 during that 5-0 battering of the poms. Gillespie was out by then, while Damien Martyn retired after the first two tests of the 2006/7 series. Of course, McGrath, Warne and Langer all sailed off into the sunset once the urn had returned, but that period of transition can wait for another blog post..

 

Bairstow, Buttler and England’s Wicket Keeping Crossroads

Both Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow have failed to grab England's wicket keeping position with both hands

Both Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow have failed to grab England’s wicket keeping position with both hands

Between 2009 and 2013, England enjoyed the luxury that was Matt Prior, picking the Sussex wicket keeper for almost every single test match played during those years. Prior ascended to the role of vice-captain before an achilles injury cut his career short in mid-2014, and his game changing, counter-attacking style of batting at number seven in the order enabled England to play without a genuine all-rounder during their golden era under Andy Flower. Prior averaged over 40 with the bat during his test career and his wicket keeping also improved immeasurably after he was recalled to the team in early 2009, making him one of the best if not the world’s best keeper-batsman for a time.

However times have changed, and since Prior was originally dropped during the ill-fated Ashes tour of Australia in late 2013 Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler have both donned the gloves, neither with enough success to end debate about the position in both the short and long term. Both have appealing attributes with the bat; Buttler has played a number of influential innings in the shorter formats of the game, albeit not recently, while Bairstow comfortably passed 1,000 first class runs last summer despite featuring in only half of Yorkshire’s Championship fixtures. Yet both have serious flaws with the gloves, and this has served to exaggerate criticism over their place in the team when either has suffered a barren run with bat in hand.

Both Bairstow and Buttler remain fine fielders, which makes it even more frustrating when they make the occasional mistake with the gloves on, but ultimately it is their performances with the bat that have led to England’s current wicket keeping dilemma. In 34 test innings Bairstow averages 26.40, while Buttler averages 30 after 24 knocks. As a point of comparison, over a decade ago the silk gloved James Foster mustered an average of 25.10 in his 12 test innings, while providing far better work with the gloves than the current Bairstow and Buttler combination.

This begs the question; would England be best served by returning to a specialist keeper? Perhaps the answer is yes, but the options in the county game are few and far between. Foster himself still captains Essex, but he will turn 36 before next summer begins and has played his first class cricket in division two during recent seasons. Chris Read, another excellent gloveman who never quite made the test grade with the bat, is 37 and his ship has also sailed. Younger ‘keepers of prominence include Ben Foakes of Surrey and Sam Billings of Kent, and they would appear to be the next two cabs off of the proverbial rank. Foakes has appeared on multiple England Lions tours and averages 36 in first class cricket, while Billings has been capped at ODI level by England. Billings possesses a first class average of just 31, however, and Foakes only kept wicket on a semi regular basis for Surrey in 2014 thanks to the presence of captain Gary Wilson.

Ultimately, it figures that both Bairstow and Buttler will be given at least one more opportunity each before anyone else is given a go by Trevor Bayliss, but both will be aware that with James Taylor’s emergence alongside Joe Root in the middle order that the only way either of them will find a way into the side is by assuming the gloves. England will need at least one to finally come of age in the test arena if they’re to adequately replace Prior, and in the process plug the huge gap that has emerged in the lower middle order.

Ashes 2015 Preview

Mitchell Johnson and Ben Stokes clashed in the previous Ashes series in Australia

Mitchell Johnson and Ben Stokes clashed in the previous Ashes series in Australia

For the third time in just two years, England and Australia are set to do battle in one of the oldest contests across all professional sport. The two arch rivals last competed for the famous little urn in 2013/14 in Australia, where the hosts ran out 5-0 winners, with England triumphing 3-0 on home shores a matter of months earlier. While the Aussies are still led by former batsman Darren Lehmann, who masterminded his country’s whitewash of the “poms” 18 months ago, England have recently turned to an Australian as coach for the first time, and they’ll be hoping that the inside info Trevor Bayliss can provide will help them regain the Ashes over the coming six weeks. To find out which players you need to keep an eye on this summer in addition to a likely less than accurate prediction, just keep reading.

Key Batsman, England – Alistair Cook

Aside from 2010/11, when Cook averaged over 100 as he flayed the Australian attack to all parts, the England skipper has struggled with the bat during the Ashes throughout his career, beginning with the 2006/7 whitewash all the way through to another 5-0 reverse last time out. Cook appears to be nearing his best after a run of good scores both in the Caribbean and at home to New Zealand last month, and with his tormentor in chief Ryan Harris having retired due to his chronic knee injuries captain Cook will have the opportunity to lead from the front and give the three lions the chance to build commanding totals, something they were unable to do in Australia last year.

Key Batsman, Australia – David Warner

Steve Smith may be the number one batsman in world cricket, but it’s Warner who has the ability to take a test away from the opposition in a single session. At his best a hard-hitting force to be reckoned with, Warner made a name for himself in the last Ashes series by mercilessly targeting the England bowlers in the third and fourth innings of tests. Warner infamously swung for the golden boy of English cricket, Joe Root, the last time Australia toured the northern hemisphere, and his success at the top of the order could pave the way for the likes of Smith and Australia captain Michael Clarke to dominate from the middle of the batting line-up.

Key Bowler, England – Moeen Ali

Prior to his England test call-up Ali had always been a batsman who bowled, however that has all changed in the past twelve months as his country has asked him to shoulder the spin bowling load while batting from the lowly position of eight in the batting order. Ali remains a better batman than bowler, yet if England are to be successful they’ll need Ali to hold up an end at the very least while Cook rotates his seamers from the other end. Ali underwhelmed in the West Indies earlier this year – however he enjoyed his most success as a test bowler during the home series against India a year ago which could bode well for the man with one of cricket’s most recognisable beards.

Key Bowler, Australia – Mitchell Johnson

It couldn’t really be anyone else, could it? Fearsome Mitch troubled the England batsmen to such an extent in the previous series that he took 37 wickets, a stark contrast to his other two Ashes series when he struggled to locate his searing pace. While the wickets won’t be as fast in England as they were in Australia Johnson still has the heat to cause England serious problems, and it’ll be clear from his first prolonged spell whether or not scars remain from the 2013/14 whitewash.

Prediction

Australia enter the series as clear favourites, yet they haven’t won in England since 2001 and home advantage may well be worth a test match or two to the hosts during this series. Both teams contain world class players, including Smith, Clarke and Johnson on the visiting side and Cook, Bell and Anderson for England. Yet Australia’s depth is where they stand out; the likes of Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc are top level players, while Mark Wood and Adam Lyth are comparative novices. For England to match their opponents they’ll need to perform to their absolute best – and even then it might not be enough. Australia 3, England 2

ICC World Cup 2015 Preview

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Brendan McCullum will look to lead New Zealand to World Cup glory on home turf

It’s a matter of a few short hours before the 50-over cricket World Cup begins in Australia and New Zealand, with pundits predicting one of the most wide open tournaments in recent memory. Reigning champions India have had a torrid time over the past few months across all formats, being defeated 3-0 by Australia in a four match test series before failing to reach the final of an ODI tri-series against the same opposition – and lowly England.

Among the favourites are Australia themselves, as well as fellow hosts New Zealand and arguably the world’s best side across all three formats, South Africa. England have been tabbed as dark horses by some, although their lack of experience could come back to haunt them as the tournament progresses. Elsewhere, Pakistan are as unpredictable as ever, Sri Lanka appear heavy on batting if a little light on bowling, while the West Indies have sunk to such depths that their progression from the group stages is far but certain. To find out which of the test-playing nations to keep an eye on as the tournament progresses, just scroll on down.

Group A

England

Fun fact for the day: England are actually the number one seeds for the World Cup. Unfortunately for them, since the seeding’s were made they’ve slipped down the rankings at a precipitous rate and sacked Alistair Cook as captain, making for less than ideal preparation. Encouragement was offered in the form of two wins over India in last month’s tri-series, and a strong pace attack led by James Anderson and a rejuvenated Steven Finn should suit the fast tracks likely to be served up down under. The batting is inconsistent, however, with a well-documented weakness against short-pitched bowling resurfacing in recent matches versus their Australian hosts.

Player to Watch

Surprisingly appointed Eoin Morgan’s vice-captain for the tournament, Jos Buttler has long been touted as a future star of English cricket. Now in possession of the gloves in all three formats, Buttler’s keeping is a work in progress but his destructive batting is an asset that England would be wise to utilise higher up the order than his current number seven position. With a brittle top order in front of him it wouldn’t be a shock to see Buttler rescue his teammates with a swashbuckling inning’s during the tournament.

Prediction

Quarter-Finals

Australia

The wickets may be quick in Oz, but the Australian pace attack led by Mitchell Johnson is even quicker. Ably supported by Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, Johnson is likely to rattle a few rib cages with his thunderbolts and it’ll be interesting to see which batsmen opt to take him on. A lack of a top-tier spinner is one minor flaw in this Aussie outfit, but with the quick bowlers backed up by an incredibly deep batting line-up featuring power at the top (David Warner, Aaron Finch), in the middle-order (Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith) and an elite finisher in James Faulkner, it would be a brave man who’d bet against the Australians winning their fourth World Cup in five tries.

Player to Watch

It’s looking likely that captain Michael Clarke will return to full fitness in time for the tournament, and with questions over his popularity among teammates surfacing in recent weeks the man dubbed ‘Pup’ will be looking to win over his comrades through sheer volume of runs. Clarke is capable of putting big scores on the board, no doubt about it, but with Steve Smith and George Bailey waiting in the wings as potential replacements for the skipper the heat will definitely be on the classy right hand bat.

Prediction

Semi-Finals

Sri Lanka

Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Angelo Matthews. As batting line-ups go, it doesn’t get much better than that, and as a result the Sri Lankan’s will be a team no one will want to face down under. Unfortunately the bowling attack is far less menacing, with Lasith Malinga carrying a group of underwhelming arms almost single-handedly. Chasing 300 is well within Sri Lanka’s reach; keeping teams under 320 could be their real challenge.

Player to Watch

Although he’s not the most famous of Sri Lanka’s star batsmen, Tillakaratne Dilshan might be the most important as he both opens the batting and contributes his fair share of overs with the ball. His wily off-spin will be a useful tool, but if he can help launch his team off to good starts life will be a far sight easier for the middle order, which is anchored by cricketing legends Jayawardene and Sangakkara.

Prediction

Winners

Bangladesh

The Bangladeshi’s failure to improve since they began playing test matches at the start of the millennium has been well documented, and unfortunately their chances in Australia reflect their lack of progression. Placed in the tougher of the two groups, it would be a huge surprise to see Bangladesh replace even England in the quarter-finals, but a weak bowling attack paired with a brittle batting line-up make it odds on that the Asian side will fail to make the knock-out stages – again.

Player to Watch

Shakib Al Hasan has been the one outstanding performer Bangladesh have produced over the past decade, and the all-rounder will once again attempt to carry the team on his back down under with his crafty batting and useful left-arm spin. Hasan is the only Bangladesh player ever to earn an IPL contract so the rest of the world is aware of his talent – it’s just a shame that his country has been unable to support him ably throughout his career.

Prediction

Group Stages

New Zealand

The co-host Kiwis enter the World Cup with high hopes and perhaps their best chance at 50-over glory since they reached the semi-finals on home turf back in 1992. Brendan McCullum’s captaincy has earned rave reviews and the New Zealand skipper is backed up by former captains Ross Taylor and Daniel Vettori, both of whom have flashed world class ability during their careers. Factor in Kane Williamson’s exploits with the bat in recent months and wicket keeper Luke Ronchi’s ability to take games away in the late overs and the Black Caps should be one of the teams to keep an eye on over the next six weeks.

Player to Watch

For all of their weapons with the bat, it’s how New Zealand perform with the ball that could dictate how far they progress. That’s where diminutive southpaw Trent Boult comes in, and his ability to keep runs down in the final 10 overs will be key to the Black Caps hopes in the tournament. Bolt is more accomplished in test cricket than the shorter formats, so he’ll view the next few weeks as an opportunity to really announce himself on the world stage.

Prediction

Semi-Finals

Group B

South Africa

The number one ranked side in the world will finally hope to end their World Cup hoodoo and win a game in the knock out stages, an incredible drought when you consider some of the players produced by the Proteas over the past two decades. They’ll never get a better chance than over the next month and a half, with the world’s best bowler (Dale Steyn) and batsman (AB De Villiers) in their ranks. Hashim Amla isn’t too bad either, and Faf du Plessis has evolved into a top tier batsman in his own right since coming into the side.

Player to Watch

Imran Tahir has been far from consistent as South Africa’s spinner over the past couple of years, but if they’re to walk away victorious down under Tahir will need to play his part. It’s all very well having a pace attack featuring Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, but without balance that formidable threesome will lose some of its effectiveness. The large boundaries in Australia should benefit spinners and protect them from big hitters, to an extent, giving Tahir the perfect platform to perform and help his fellow South Africans to victory on cricket’s biggest stage.

Prediction

Runners-Up

India

The reigning champions enter the 2015 tournament in terrible form, having failed to win a competitive game on tour in Australia, where they’ve been since November. While the batting line-up has shown signs of life with the likes of Virat Kohli maturing into a world class performer, the bowling department is frightfully thin. Famed for their world class spinners over the years, the Indians are weak even in that department, and on the pace-friendly wickets down under they could be faced with the task of chasing 300 plus regularly.

Player to Watch

Rohit Sharma currently holds the highest list A score in history of 264, but while that score came on home turf his form in unfamiliar climes has been less impressive. With the likes of Kohli and M.S Dhoni expected to perform well no matter the batting surface, Sharma will be under pressure to score heavily at the top of the order and give his team’s bowlers a target with which they can bowl at.

Prediction

Quarter-Finals

Pakistan

As unpredictable as ever, Pakistan enter this tournament with a team poor on paper yet filled with experience. Shahid Afridi is a one day veteran of near twenty years, while Misbah Ul Haq anchors the batting line-up despite being in his late thirties. The loss of Saeed Ajmal is a huge one, but even without the number one ranked bowler in limited overs international cricket the Pakistanis are a team no one will want to face.

Player to Watch

Umar Akmal has an enormous amount of talent and has shown flashes of fulfilling his potential during his international career, but he’s yet to join the world’s elite as a batsman. If Pakistan are to succeed during this tournament Akmal will need to live up to his immense promise and support Misbah’s efforts with the bat – failure to do so will result in a fragile batting line-up falling short of the required output to challenge for the county’s first World Cup title since 1992, when the tournament was also held in Australia and New Zealand.

Prediction

Quarter-Finals

West Indies

Is there a more dysfunctional team in world cricket? Even Pakistan, famed for their volatility, are more settled than the Windies, whose players and board have been at loggerheads for what seems like a decade. Bowler Jason Holder was installed as the team’s captain just a few weeks ago, and it rather feels like Holder has been thrown to the lions as a sacrificial lamb with the rest of the team in complete disarray.

Player to Watch

Who else but Chris Gayle? Gayle may not be in the richest vein of form, yet he’s still a batsman bowlers the world over fear, with his easy power a threat to clear even the biggest boundary. For the West Indies to have any chance against the other test playing nations they’ll need Gayle to be firing on all cylinders – but even that might not be enough with the rest of the team full of holes and lacking both experience and talent.

Prediction

Quarter-Finals

Who do you think will win the 2015 ICC World Cup? Leave a comment or tweet @fredjstanley

England v India ODI Series: 5 Things to Watch

Alex Hales looks set to make his ODI debut against India

Alex Hales looks set to make his ODI debut against India

Following England’s stirring comeback in the test series against India, the three lions will be looking to press on against the same opposition in the 50-over format with the ODI World Cup in Australia just around the corner. Here are five things to keep an eye on as the five game series gets underway:

Is Alex Hales the man for England in all three formats?

Previously viewed as just a twenty20 specialist, Alex Hales looks set to earn his first ODI cap against India and there have even been whispers a profitable series could catapult him into the frame for a test spot. Hales imperious form of late has seen him notch centuries in both four day and one day cricket, and the man himself has admitted he’s in the best form of his young career. England have often been criticised for being dull and unimaginative with their team selections; should Hales force his way into the test team as a David Warner-esque bully at the top of the order it would certainly represent a change of philosophy from the England hierarchy.

Which England all-rounder will stake a claim for the role?

The omission of Ravi Bopara from England’s 15 man squad came as a surprise; however with Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes all selected the hosts still have a range of options to choose from when it comes to all-rounders. Ali has the best record as a batsman in domestic cricket and his status as a spin bowler also factor in his favour, while Stokes’ impressive showing amongst the chaos in Australia last winter and his aggressive attitude make him an appealing option. Woakes, meanwhile, has steadily and somewhat quietly improved since his test debut at the Oval last August against Australia, adding a yard of pace and impressing as captain of the England Lions last winter. All three could have a role to play in the ODI series and with places on the plane to Australia for the World Cup up for grabs every single one of their moves will be closely monitored.

Can Virat  Kohli bounce back from a disastrous test series?

Kohli, the golden boy of Indian cricket, staggered to a batting average a shade over 13 in the five test series, failing to live up to his billing as one of crickets most exciting young players. His technique was revealed to be far from watertight against quality seam bowling, the likes of which was provided by James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Kohli also struggled with the short ball, a flaw that needs to be corrected if he’s to ever transfer his ODI form into the test arena. There is no doubting Kohli’s prowess in the shorter format, however, so don’t be surprised if he responds in a big way over the coming couple of weeks.

Who will man the number three position for England?

After Jonathan Trott departed the Ashes tour of Australia last winter, Gary Ballance laid claim to the coveted number three role in the test side and hasn’t looked back following a sterling summer in the format. It’s unclear, however, whether Ballance will get the chance to man the role in the ODI’s, or if he’ll even be selected. Ian Bell is set to move down the order to accommodate Hales at the top of the order alongside captain Cook, so the Warwickshire man is one alternative for the number three slot. Team director Peter Moores could even spring a surprise and fill the role with wicket keeper Jos Buttler, who does seem slightly wasted at number seven. Whoever gets first dibs on the position will be keen to impress, with a plethora of one day games scheduled over the winter culminating in the 2015 ODI World Cup.

Will Alistair Cook rediscover his one day touch?

Despite regaining form in the final three test matches of the summer, Alistair Cook still failed to reach three figures and a run of poor scores in the limited over games could lead to renewed questions about his position in the one day side. Cook’s once paced batting style doesn’t count in his favour at the best of times and the inclusion of Alex Hales indicates that team management want to play a more aggressive brand of cricket, as does the promotion of Jos Buttler to the test side. Cook deserves the chance to lead the side in a World Cup, but he might not make it that far if England are humiliated in this series by the current world champions, or if he himself doesn’t trouble the scorers.

Who do you think will win the ODI series between England and India? Leave a comment or tweet @fredjstanley to have your say