Leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed continues to show positive signs of growth with his variations and attack but Jos Buttler’s form remains in question; England’s second ODI against West Indies is on Wednesday (5.30pm start)
By Um-E-Aymen Babar, Sports Journalist
England’s campaign to rebuild their white-ball side began poorly after the West Indies captain Shai Hope struck a magnificent 109 not out to beat the tourists by four wickets in Antigua on Sunday.
After England’s appalling World Cup campaign last month, Jos Buttler decided to use it as fuel to propel his side out of misery and remained adamant it would not define him nor his career.
Instead, the Caribbean tour started with an ODI defeat, and more worryingly, the England captain’s slump continued after he scored just three off 13 balls, the lowest of the team.
During the 50-over World Cup, Buttler failed to make a single half-century and he averaged 15.33 in the nine group-stage matches. He admitted in the post-match interview on Sunday that it had been a while since he performed well for his country.
When we look at the scorecard, England’s 325 all out seems imposing enough but a deeper look shows that there are still points of concern.
After a good start from England, the West Indies managed to take back control in the middle overs dismissing Ben Duckett (20), Zak Crawley (48), Buttler (three) and Liam Livingstone (17), before they could do too much damage.
England had to rely on their tail with eighth-wicket pair Sam Curran and Brydon Carse sharing a partnership worth 66-runs that helped avoid a collapse and saw England go past 300.
It was a positive reminder that England can always rely on their batting depth and a stark contrast to the West Indies, who had to rely heavily on their top order.
However, what Curran did with the bat, he failed to do with the ball.
The 25-year-old was expensive with the new ball and unable to made amends at the death – something he is often entrusted with.
His figures of 0-98 were England’s most expensive ever in a men’s ODI and despite Buttler allowing him to bowl his allotted 10 overs, Curran was unable to take a single wicket.
There will be questions around whether Curran should occupy one of England’s five bowling spot. His performance with the bat is not enough reason for him to stay given England’s already impressive depth.
However, when Curran does put on his best performance, he can be ruthless, evident during the T20 World Cup last year, where he was named the Player of the Tournament.
What are the positives for England?
Ever since taking a five-for on his debut in Pakistan last year, Rehan Ahmed has been a consistent standout player for England.
He was the most economical of the bowling attack finishing on figures of 2-40 and made a key breakthrough when he had Alick Athanaze (66) trapped lbw.
Rehan’s form has improved since his debut and he looks more confident in his attack and he will be able to pick up new variations from the senior players.
With England’s Test tour of India coming up, along with the IPL and T20 World Cup, the selectors will be keeping a close eye on the youngster.
England started well with Phil Salt (45) and Will Jacks (26) motoring to 77 after West Indies’ Romario Shepherd pacer conceded 34 from his first three overs.
Harry Brook top-scored with his 71 off 72 balls and looks to be tamely rebuilding after he too had a below-par World Cup campaign.
The 24-year-old batted at a steady pace showing no signs of a lingering World Cup woes and shared a 71-run fourth wicket stand with Zak Crawley.
He adapted well to the surface realising quickly he would not be able to swat the ball around like he usually does and capitalised against Yannic Cariah (1-76) fuller deliveries.
Despite a disappointing start to what was promised to be a regeneration of England’s white-ball side, there are still signs that they can once again reach the pinnacle of success.
The series stays in Antigua for the second ODI, taking place on Wednesday at the same venue (5.30pm start), before the third and final ODI is played in Barbados on Saturday (5.30pm start).
A five-match T20 series then begins in Barbados on December 12, with two games in Grenada (December 14 and 16) and two more in Trinidad and Tobago (December 19 and 21). Watch all the best live sport and more with NOW.