Should we be worried by Jos Buttler’s absence? How has Mark Wood’s return from injury changed the bowling attack? And has Harry Brook nailed down his place? Sportsmail answers the key questions after England’s series win in Pakistan
- England sealed a series win in Pakistan in their final game before the World Cup
- The visitors romped to a 67-run victory in the series decider in Lahore on Sunday
- Here Sportsmail takes a look at questions that have developed during the tour
After sealing the series win, England head to the T20 World Cup with things becoming clearer in terms of fitness and form.
Dawid Malan and Harry Brook impressed with unbeaten scores of 78 and 46 respectively, whilst Ben Duckett helped Malan to a 61-run collaboration from just five overs.
Here, Sportsmail addresses the main issues that have developed during this tour of Pakistan…
England sealed a 4-3 series win over Pakistan after winning the deciding game in Lahore
Jos Buttler said he would play two matches at best, then didn’t appear at all. Should we be worried?
No. It has simply been a case of the captain erring on the side of caution as he recovers from a calf injury.
Buttler has batted and kept wicket without any obvious discomfort and it is putting the muscle under stress in the process of sprinting, twisting and turning under match-pressure scrutiny that he and the medical staff are wary of.
Hence, they have worked on the theory that it’s better to be picked a game too late than one too early and held him back until the first of three matches against Australia.
Jos Buttler’s absence from the entirety of the series should not worry England fans
Alex Hales was intended to partner Buttler at the top of the order
So, Buttler will open with Alex Hales when England begin their World Cup against Afghanistan?
That was the plan after Jonny Bairstow’s freakish injury opened the door for an international return that Hales celebrated with a 50 on opening night.
And given the consistency of selection across England teams these days, that remains the likeliest scenario.
But Phil Salt outperformed him overall — striking at 157 and producing the most destructive innings of the series, the unbeaten 88 off 41 balls that set up Sunday night’s decider.
Both have plenty of experience of Australian conditions at the Big Bash too.
Hales’ fielding needs attention — he dropped three catches, all of which should really have been taken.
But Harry Brook has nailed down his place?
Absolutely. The Yorkshireman appears to have made the No5 spot his own, coming in after Dawid Malan and the returning Ben Stokes and before two finishers in Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone.
England failed to make the most of Brook’s hot form in the summer but should do so now.
He has shown not only a 360° game but the ability to second guess bowlers’ plans and manipulate the field.
Harry Brook’s 46 not out came off only 29 balls as the Yorkshireman continues to impress
How is the bowling attack shaping up?
The return of Mark Wood tearing in and hitting the mid-90s in terms of pace was arguably the most pleasing sight of the trip and his inclusion provides the point of difference.
Figures of 8-0-44-6 did not flatter him. He might not be risked in every game at the World Cup but they will want him for the big ones. That will mean rotating players, as England have done here. Although they got away with it on occasion, David Willey and Sam Curran are two samey to play in the same XI.
Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes appear to be another head-to-head in selection terms while Reece Topley’s height will make him a handful with the new ball on Australian pitches. Topley is also a death-overs option.
Mark Wood’s return to fitness is a big boost for England’s bowling attack in Australia
Adil Rashid is one of the first names on the team sheet. Should he be?
Yes. The Yorkshire leg-spinner has been an essential component of this team, providing control and wicket-taking threat through the middle of an innings.
However, England will need him to rediscover his top form after a wicketless run of three matches versus Pakistan — the longest of his Twenty20 international career.