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6 takeaways for England after ODI series defeat to West Indies

Jos Buttler's men hit rock bottom in the Caribbean following their shambolic World Cup exit - but there were also a few positives as well

If the Cricket World Cup wasn’t bad enough, England’s white-ball winter plumbed new depths with a 2-1 ODI series defeat by a West Indies team that didn’t even qualify for the tournament in India.

Defeat in Saturday’s rain-hit series decider in Barbados condemned a new-look team to the same fate as the one that imploded so spectacularly during the World Cup.

Overall this was an eighth defeat in 12 ODIs for a team who had started the winter as world champions but end it, in 50-over cricket at least, as also-rans.

The scale of this latest failure is illustrated by the fact this was the West Indies’ first home ODI series win against England since 1998, their first against them anywhere since 2007 and a first against any major nation for two and a half years.

As happened so often in India, it was a batting implosion that set the tone in the decider in Barbados, Jos Buttler’s men reduced to 49 for five after a burst of three wickets for debutant seamer Matthew Forde.

Despite England recovering to 206 for nine in an innings reduced to 40 overs because of weather, the hosts chased down their rain-adjusted target of 188 with 14 balls to spare.

Questions over the futures of Buttler as captain and coach Matthew Mott will be raised again – particularly the lack of synergy between the pair.

In the 31 completed ODIs since they came together in July of last year, England have won 13 and lost 18, winning only three out of eight bilateral series.

By the time England play their next ODI series against Australia in September a change of leadership may have occurred.

Mott looks under the most pressure given this tour provided more evidence that he doesn’t have the necessary skills to oversee a rebuild of the 50-over team that looks far more complicated than first envisioned.

But what did we learn from a series that featured only six players who were part of the World Cup shambles?

Despite talk of a rebuild, England didn’t explore all their options

Whether it was fear of losing or a lack of imagination, Mott and Buttler failed to make the most of this series as they stopped short of trying out all the players at their disposal. Ollie Pope, spinner Tom Hartley and highly-rated fast bowler John Turner were all unused when perhaps they should have at least been given one game to show what they can do. Pope and Hartley now return to England after running drinks, probably wondering what the point of this tour was for them. Turner, you would hope, will get a run out at some point during the five T20s against the West Indies that start this week.

Salt and Jacks are here to stay

Salt and Jacks (Photo: Getty)
Salt and Jacks should both continue to open the batting (Photo: Getty)

England’s new openers both failed on Saturday but they showed enough in the first two games to earn an extended run in the team. Jacks, with a terrific haul of three for 33 in Barbados, also showed what his off-spin bowling can offer. It’s still baffling why he was overlooked for a central contract.

The Zak Crawley experiment has not worked

You can see why England gave him a chance given his expansive strokeplay in the Test arena. But with one half-century – against Ireland – in five innings since the end of last summer, a run that has also included two ducks, Pope or Joe Root deserve the chance to nail down the No 3 role for now.

Ben Duckett deserves a shot

As England collapsed on Saturday, Duckett kept his head and produced a measured knock of 71 from 73 balls that helped take the team to a total that at least gave them a chance. Already established in Test cricket, he deserves a run in this one-day team.

Rehan Ahmed is ready to star across all formats

Rehan Ahmed (2R) and Ben Duckett (R) of England celebrate the dismissal of Shai Hope of West Indies during the 3rd and final ODI match between West Indies and England at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados, on December 9, 2023. (Photo by Randy Brooks / AFP) (Photo by RANDY BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Ahmed’s potential speaks for itself (Photo: Getty)

The teenage leg-spinner took five wickets at 23.40 to underline his talent. The prospect of him and Adil Rashid pairing up in the T20 team ahead of next summer’s World Cup is a tantalising one. And Ahmed surely also has a big part to play in the upcoming Test series in India in the new year. Still only 19, he looks composed, comfortable and right at home on the international stage.

Death bowling still an issue

Lack of ruthlessness at the pointy end of matches killed England during the World Cup and it cost them again in the Caribbean. Gus Atkinson, a talented bowler who should be persisted with, was guilty again on Saturday as he shipped 24 runs in his final over to pretty much condemn England to defeat. Sam Curran has also been expensive in this series. But there is no magic wand to improve things. England just need to get better.

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