All change for England with Bangladesh series set to begin

Debut imminent? Rehan Ahmed  (AFP via Getty Images)
Debut imminent? Rehan Ahmed (AFP via Getty Images)

With the combined ubiquity of five o’clock somewhere and rats in London sewers, England’s men will once again be playing cricket tomorrow, starting the first of two series in Bangladesh having only this morning finished one in New Zealand.

Around 7,000 miles and just 29 hours separate the red- and white-ball assignments, which are simultaneously both so far removed and so close in proximity as to pose not merely one of modern cricket’s logistical nightmares but a refreshingly straightforward impossibility: even a close-of-play dash from Basin Reserve to Wellington International and the help of a fair prevailing wind could not have got the keenest traveller to Dhaka in time for the toss and the first of three ODIs.

As such, it is all-change in the playing staff, the exception being Surrey’s Will Jacks, who was part of the Test squad in New Zealand but after going unused flew to Bangladesh over the weekend to join the 50-over group as a belated replacement for the injured Tom Abell.

Jacks, along with teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed, is one of two possible debutants in the format, both players sure to be fixtures in England sides for years to come but perhaps up against it to break through in time for the autumn’s World Cup, because the irony for captain Jos Buttler and head coach Matthew Mott is that beyond the end of the next fortnight scarcity, not overload, becomes the issue.

After these three ODIs and the three T20s that follow, England do not play another white-ball fixture until September as the Indian Premier League, home Ashes and the Hundred dominate the next six months of the calendar, almost without pause.

By then, England - if they are not quite there already - must know the makeup of their World Cup squad, with home series against Ireland and New Zealand at the rear end of the summer expected to be used for fine-tuning an XI that will never have played together at full-strength previously.

Most of the questions around its makeup are as they were in South Africa at the start of the month. Jason Roy is still searching for consistent runs despite a hundred in Bloemfontein, while the continued absences of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow mean top-order opportunities, if not permanent openings, are on offer. Phil Salt, who carried drinks for three matches in South Africa, ought to finally get a run of games, with Harry Brook and Ben Duckett in New Zealand, but even then selection is not guaranteed, Jacks and James Vince, in good form in franchise cricket, both keen to push cases, too.

In the bowling ranks, Jofra Archer is continuing his international comeback, though this time there is the tantalising prospect of the 27-year-old bowling in tandem with Mark Wood, who returns having been rested for both Test and white-ball tours so far in 2023. Saqib Mahmood is also in line for a first cap in almost a year after recovering from a stress fracture of the back.

As a collective, the emphasis will be on ending a run of four ODI series without a victory, a sizeable task given Bangladesh have not lost a home series since England’s last visit in 2016.

How England fare in sub-continental conditions - where they have not played 50-over cricket in two years - should offer further clues ahead of their World Cup defence in India.