England's team for the 2021 Men's T20 World Cup
Being spoilt for choice is not a privilege England fans face very often going into a World Cup year for any sport. But with the 2021 T20 Men’s World Cup around the corner, England cricket fans and pundits alike are scratching their heads at how best to squeeze a ridiculously talented limited overs generation into eleven starting spots.
After an action-packed summer of cricket, we’ve been hard at work trying to figure out who England should select for their first match of the tournament being hosted in India. We’re pretty excited about the team we’ve chosen but it has meant some pretty established names are sitting out... Let us know what you think by getting in touch via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
1. Jason Roy
England’s explosive opener has not been in the best white ball form recently. He scored just 25 runs in three innings against a lower tier Ireland ODI side, before a side strain kept him out of the Pakistan T20 series this summer, and was then dissapointing against the Aussies. However, despite this recent blip Roy sneaks into our starting lineup because he has shown that in major tournaments he can stand up to be counted.
When Roy got injured halfway through the group stage of last year’s World Cup, England very nearly spiralled out of the competition. Roy returned with England on the brink of elimination, needing to win the rest of their group stage games to reach the knockout stages. He delivered for the team with scores of 66 against India, and 60 against New Zealand. It was also Roy’s throw under pressure that ran out Martin Guptill and secured England their first ever ODI World Cup victory. With his big tournament experience and ability to get England off to a flyer Roy heads up our batting lineup.
2. Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper)
Most of the players in this eleven were difficult choices given the strength and depth England have in white ball cricket... Jos Buttler was not one of them. England’s keeper-batsman is the first name on the team sheet in this format and arguably the most talented white ball player on the planet.
Despite originally being a middle order player, Buttler has opened the batting in his last eight T20s for England. It’s a position he has had a huge amount of success in and it surely makes sense for England’s best batsman to face as many balls as possible. Since moving up to the opener position in the IPL he has averaged 44.58 at a strike rate of 154.66 which is more than enough to convince us Buttler should be in the top two.
3. Jonny Bairstow
Bairstow opened the batting with Tom Banton in England’s recently drawn series against Pakistan. However, we think he should be moved down the order in India next year to accommodate Jos Buttler at the top of the line-up. Having Bairstow to come in at three gives the two openers more leeway than ever to go hell for leather at the start. They know that if a wicket falls they effectively have another opener coming in for the rest of the powerplay, giving Buttler and Roy a license to thrill.
Even if the two openers manage to stay in for those opening six overs, Bairstow is a fine player to come in for the middle overs, and has an outrageous recent record playing T20 cricket in India. In the 2019 IPL tournament, he scored 445 runs at an average of 55.62 and a strike rate of 157.24. This should provide him with invaluable experience for next year.
4. Dawid Malan
What to do with Dawid Malan? We’ve picked him, but it certainly wasn’t an easy decision. It’s the same headache the England selectors are likely to have when choosing the starting eleven for England’s first World Cup match in 2021. When you read Malan’s name next to the rest of this England team it doesn’t quite look right, it feels a bit like he’s a spare part. But then you look at his T20 stats and the way he’s played when he’s been given opportunities and it becomes almost impossible to leave him out.
The guy has an unbeaten hundred for England and he averages 48.71; that’s more than any other England T20 player who has played more than three matches. The stats look really good for Malan and he showed in the Pakistan series that he has versatility too. For all of his big hitting prowess, he was happy to play an anchor role in the second match, seeing England home with an unbeaten 54 off 36 balls. With Eoin Morgan playing a floating role in the middle order, Malan could be very useful as a ‘finisher’ for England in the World Cup.
5. Eoin Morgan (captain)
Like a fine wine, Eoin Morgan seems to be getting better with age for England. He has played an incredible 92 T20I matches and seems to have the desire to keep playing for a long while yet. Morgan has over 2,000 T20I runs to his name and possesses the kind of experience that is gold dust in major international tournaments.
His batting position is flexible and will largely be dictated by how quickly wickets fall in the opening ten overs. This flexibility has been highly lucrative for England in the last twelve months and his form over this period suggests he may still be improving, despite entering his twilight years.
The 33-year old is averaging 58 across his last 11 T20Is and appears to have plenty left in the tank. England are lucky to have Morgan as a captain too, and his coolness under pressure and presence of mind in tough situations is a major reason for the team’s recent white ball successes.
6. Ben Stokes
This man needs little introduction: England’s World Cup saviour and the hero of Headingley, Ben Stokes has had a truly astonishing eighteen months. . At this time it would seem criminal to put forward England’s best team in any format without including the name ‘Ben Stokes’ and unsurprisingly he makes it into our starting XI.
The decision is not entirely simple though, the demands of international cricket for an all rounder like Stokes have meant that he has not played as much T20 cricket as he would have liked in the last few years. The stats aren’t great for Stokes either: he’s never scored a T20I half-century and his economy rate is nearly 9 an over. This is all before we mention the elephant in the room that is England’s last T20 World Cup match where Carlos Brathwaite blazed Stokes for four consecutive sixes to win West Indies the match and the trophy. Nevertheless, Ben Stokes has shown time and again that he is up to any challenge and that final over loss in the last T20 World Cup may just inspire Ben Stokes to yet another generation-defining moment in next year’s tournament.
7. Moeen Ali
Just when you think Moeen Ali’s days in the England side might be numbered he comes out with a performance that completely changes your mind. This was very much the case in the final match of the T20 series between England and Pakistan. Ali strode to the crease with England in trouble at 65-3. He went on to score 61 off 33 balls and although it was not quite enough to see England home, it was a timely reminder of Ali’s capabilities with the bat.
With the ball, Moeen’s form is slightly more concerning and his lack of wickets in recent T20 games should be a cause for concern. One of the main reasons Moeen slots into our eleven is that England will need two spinners in India and this is a rare area where the talent pool is not particularly deep at the moment. Some radical pundits have suggested that Joe Root and his off spin bowling could push Ali for a place but that seems unlikely right now.
8. Adil Rashid
Spin is likely to play a major role in the World Cup on turning Indian tracks, which makes Adil Rashid a valuable commodity for England, particularly given his white ball pedigree. England’s leg spinner played his first T20I in 2009 and has 43 wickets to his name. Much like Moeen Ali, Rashid has not been at his best in white ball cricket recently, but remains England’s best leg spinning option. Perhaps the fact that Joe Denly’s pretty ordinary leg breaks offer the closest meaningful challenge to Rashid’s place have led to him getting slightly complacent of his place.
On his day, there are few better leg spin bowlers than Rashid and his googly has huge wicket taking potential when he is full of confidence. For this reason, it is difficult not to include Adil Rashid and he looks fairly set in stone to keep his place when the tournament comes around next year.
9. Chris Jordan
In England’s third T20I against Pakistan Chris Jordan bowled a yorker to set batsman Haider Ali that clipped the bottom of off stump and provided a much needed breakthrough for England. We’re not saying this delivery alone is enough to get Jordan into our T20 World Cup starting lineup, but it is certainly a major contributing factor. Although T20 bowling is increasingly evolving with knuckleballs, back of the hand slower balls, and who-knows-what-else, the yorker still remains possibly the pick of the bunch.
Jordan’s ability to bowl yorkers consistently could be vital for England in the upcoming World Cup and if they do decide to pick Archer and Wood as their express options, Chris Jordan offers a different threat with his variations. He needs just five more wickets to become England’s leading T20I wicket taker of all time and we reckon England would be mad not to pick him in next year’s World Cup starting team.
10. Jofra Archer
The thought of facing Jofra Archer’s 90+mph thunderbolts under lights must be a terrifying prospect for opponents from across the world and as it stands one of the fast bowling positions must be his to lose.
Jofra has shown that he is not afraid of the big stage and from the little we’ve seen of him in white ball cricket it looks like this could well be his best format. As Archer only needs to bowl four overs in the match we may well see even quicker spells than he has been able to bowl in Test matches so far. In the recent series against Australia, for example, the quick bowler reached speeds of 96mph! With a year until the tournament Archer is only going to get better, and barring an unfortunate injury he should walk into this side.
11. Mark Wood
Another member of England’s World Cup winning squad and another 90+mph bowler, Mark Wood provides serious pace in a different form to Archer. Wood’s skiddy action allows his deliveries to kiss the pitch and skip on giving batsmen little to no time to react to each ball.
Wood gets in our eleven ahead of Tom Curran and Saqib Mahmood because of the speed at which he bowls, but he’ll need to make sure he has plenty of variations that he can bowl under pressure if he is to keep out England’s other fast bowling options.
This means no places for Joe Root, Tom Curran, Tom Banton, Saqib Mahmood, Sam Billings, Lewis Gregory, or James Vince in our team. In a different era, all eight of these individuals could feature in the same England side, so they can consider themselves very unfortunate. Indeed there may be no other country with so much talent set to sit on the sidelines, but with a busy schedule between now and the World Cup, injuries and dips in form from the starting XI may well mean they get their opportunity.
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