The biggest summer in English cricketing history gets underway today when Eoin Morgan’s men take on Ireland in a one-off One Day International at Malahide.
The build-up has been dominated by the fall out from Alex Hales’ removal from the World Cup squad, but England have acted quickly and will now be looking to switch the focus to matters on the field.
For some reason preparations ahead of the World Cup see England take on Pakistan in a T20 international in Cardiff on Sunday, so Friday’s clash in Dublin takes on greater significance.
With their World Cup opener against South Africa less than four weeks away there are still a number of questions that need to be answered. Friday’s clash and the upcoming series against Pakistan will go some way to answering them.
Ahead of their opening clash of what promises to be a huge 2019, let’s take a look at some of the key talking points.
The most talked about naturalisation of an England player since the early 90’s when Graeme Hick qualified for England, and just like then there is an expectation that Archer will just slot in and take to international cricket.
The reality for Hick was in spite of a 10-year career in both formats of the game he struggled to live up to the billing.
Archer is one of the most talked about players, a global star who is instantly marketable. The very fact England changed their eligibility policy to fall in line with ICC regulations is a testament to their belief in the Barbadian born paceman.
Friday and the upcoming games against Pakistan is perfect opportunity for Archer to show his ability and force his way not only into the World Cup squad but into the first XI.
Who is in the hot seat?
The emergence of Archer has raised the obvious question; who will make way for him?
Often injuries and fitness force the hand of the selectors, but the selection of Chris Jordan proves England are still looking at their options.
For me the biggest question mark is surrounding Liam Plunkett, he looks on paper like the obvious fall guy. At 34 he is unlikely to feature in the selectors long term vision but he has been an integral part of the team rise from the misery of the 2015 world cup up to current World number one and tournament facilities.
Elsewhere the likes of Mark Wood and Chris Woakes will be looking to prove their fitness, as persistent injuries have dogged their respective England careers.
Tom Curran has caught the eye whenever he has played and is certainly one for the long term. David Willey for me has to be part of the squad his left arm will strengthen England’s arsenal heading into the tournament.
Life without Hales
Not only do England have to contend with life without Hales, but they also kick off the 2019 summer without Jason Roy who is out injured with a back injury.
Although he is expected to recover in time to open the batting with Jonny Bairstow, his absence will give the likes of David Malan and wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes an opportunity to impress on their one-day debuts.
It’s a chance for some players to stake a serious claim for a World Cup spot, Bairstow, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali are being rested in advance of a busy summer, but injuries and a drop-in form will open the door for players as the tournament nears and kick off.
Friday’s clash just outside of Irish capital of Dublin is a dress rehearsal that will be taken very seriously by those involved.
Can England cope with the pressure?
England head into the tournament not only with the pressure of being hosts they are also the favourites to lift the trophy.
Friday’s contest will give the selectors the chance to look at their squad depth and know that the men on the bench are ready to step in seamlessly.
The eyes of the world are on England and there is an expectation, they must continue to play their natural game and ensure that there are no major changes to their plan.
A plan that has seen them dominate One Day Cricket for the last four years.