The England vs Ireland ODI series was special for two reasons – first, it marked the resumption of international limited-overs cricket after an unexpected break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and second, it was also the first series in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League. England clinched the series win but it wasn’t as one-sided as one would expect. The final match in the three-match series saw history repeating itself as Ireland went on to chase 328, something they had accomplished before in Bengaluru in the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
Here are our top takeaways from the England vs Ireland ODI series.
ENGLAND CLINCH 20 VITAL WORLD CUP SUPER LEAGUE POINTS
The introduction of the Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League for the qualification of the 2023 Cricket World Cup has made sure that there are no more dead rubbers in bilateral ODI series anymore. The England vs Ireland ODI series was the first of its kind. Each team gets 10 points on winning a match and by concluding the series 2-1, England collect 20 points while Ireland take home 10 points.
Both teams would be more than content with this start. This is because England were without six first-choice players, who are a part of the red-ball team to take on Pakistan, whereas, Ireland came into the series as the minnows and were expected to be whitewashed against the current World Cup holders.
AN ANSWER TO ENGLAND’S MIDDLE ORDER WOES
Coming into this series, captain Eoin Morgan’s main focus was to find suitable backups in the middle-order. England are very top-order heavy and there aren’t many middle-order batsmen who have been knocking on the doors for selection. England were forced to play Tom Banton in the middle-order and in the initial two matches, he looked like a fish out of water. Banton has never played in that role even for his county team and has always been a top-order batsman. But in the final match, he found his feet and scored his maiden ODI fifty.
Sam Billings was another player who looked ready for that spot in the English batting line-up. Billings scored 132 runs in the series and batted at number five twice and once at number six. He was the third-highest run-getter in the series and had the best average as he got dismissed only once in the three matches. No doubt that with his performances, he impressed both his captain and the team management.
HIGHEST CHASE EVER BY AN AWAY TEAM IN ENGLAND
Ireland’s 329/3 in the third and final match of the series marked the highest chase ever by a touring team on English soil in an ODI match. Ireland pulled off their second-ever win against England and their first ODI win against a major opponent since the 2015 World Cup. They repeated that famous win in Bengaluru and went on to chase this total with just one ball to spare.
These 10 points may come handy for Ireland in the overall context of the Cricket World Cup Super League. Both the captains, Eoin Morgan and Andrew Balbirnie went on to score centuries in the third match and this became the first instance of both captains scoring a century in the same ODI in England.
DAVID WILLEY EMERGES AS THE STANDOUT BOWLER
This series helped England’s fast bowling depth to grow further. In the absence of the bowlers who won them the 2019 Cricket World Cup – Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes, England found more than handy backups in David Willey, Saqib Mahmood and Reece Topley. Amongst these fast bowlers, Willey was the most superior. With eight wickets in the three matches, he finished the series as the highest wicket-taker. He troubled the Irish batting line-up by swinging the new ball both ways at a decent pace and also had the best average and strike rate in the series.
CAPTAIN MORGAN – THE REAL SIX-HITTER
England’s captain Morgan broke a record held by former India captain, MS Dhoni, for the most number of sixes by an international captain in ODI cricket. Morgan, who has 328 international sixes to his name, went past Dhoni’s tally of most sixes as a captain when he hit his 212th six in ODIs. Dhoni has 211 sixes as a captain from 332 matches. Morgan, however, took just 163 matches to achieve the feat.
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