Flat finish and schedule strife – what did we learn from England’s ODI series?

England achieved their mission in Australia by clinching the T20 World Cup but their time Down Under came to a dispiriting end after a 3-0 ODI clean sweep by their Ashes rivals.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the important issues that have arisen from a three-match series that was labelled “horrible” by Moeen Ali due to its timing.

Does this result take any gloss off England’s T20 World Cup success?

England won the T20 World Cup earlier this month (PA)
England won the T20 World Cup earlier this month (PA)

None whatsoever. Just four days separated England’s win over Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final and the ODI series opener against Australia. Many who helped England unify the ODI and T20 global titles stayed in Australia but were clearly jaded. There were some fresher faces such as James Vince and Sam Billings, players who are on the fringes of the white-ball set-up, but they had a minimal amount of preparation and no warm-up matches to get adjusted to conditions. Australia, having been eliminated at the group stage of their home T20 World Cup, had an extra week’s rest and, frankly, it showed.

Why did this series go ahead then?

Australia came over to England for a white-ball series in the Covid summer of 2020 (Glyn Kirk/PA)
Australia came over to England for a white-ball series in the Covid summer of 2020 (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Broadcast commitments, mainly, but also as a gesture of thanks for Australia coming over to England for a white-ball trip in the Covid summer of 2020. While the matches at Adelaide and Sydney had passable attendances, a 10,406-crowd at the MCG was the lowest at the 100,000-capacity venue for a men’s ODI involving Australia. Even if this was a midweek fixture and the weather in Melbourne has been unseasonably cold, fans might be voting with their feet as cricket’s schedule reaches saturation point. Make no mistake, such a small audience for England-Australia matches should not go unnoticed.

How worrying should this be?

Only a few thousand turned up to the MCG on Tuesday (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP)
Only a few thousand turned up to the MCG on Tuesday (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP)

England suffered their heaviest ODI defeat in terms of runs on Tuesday and the result was largely met with a shrug. If the paying public can see through the irrelevance of these matches then who can blame the players for doing anything else, with results given no time to oxygenate? Moeen’s comments were backed up by Billings, who said: “The schedule doesn’t allow all-format players moving forward.” But this is not just an England gripe as Australia left-armer Mitchell Starc believes it is “impossible” to be a three-format player, adding: “They (countries’ boards) see a break and put a series on.”

Have England learned anything from this?

Dawid Malan made a case for more regular inclusion in England's ODI squads, but nobody else did (Scott Barbour/PA)
Dawid Malan made a case for more regular inclusion in England’s ODI squads, but nobody else did (Scott Barbour/PA)

While there are extenuating circumstances for this result, it is noticeable that bar perhaps Dawid Malan, nobody who is on the periphery of the ODI set-up has really grabbed their chance. Vince, Billings and David Willey all flickered at times but, at this stage of their careers, the trio need to be seizing more games by the scruff of the neck if they want to be on a flight to India for the defence of England’s 50-over World Cup next year. Olly Stone bowled at decent pace and took a four-for in the dead rubber but only after being pummelled by centurions Travis Head and David Warner.

So how are England shaping up for the 2023 World Cup?

England hope to lure Ben Stokes out of ODI retirement for next year's World Cup (PA)
England hope to lure Ben Stokes out of ODI retirement for next year’s World Cup (PA)

While England hope to lure Ben Stokes out of ODI retirement, the likes of Liam Livingstone, Mark Wood and Harry Brook were unavailable for the last leg in Australia as they are preparing for a Test series in Pakistan. Jonny Bairstow, Reece Topley and Jofra Archer also missed out due to injury while it may be that Jason Roy’s extended period out of form brings Alex Hales, for now a T20 specialist, back into the 50-over fold. There is a lot that can happen in the next 11 months and we must wait and see.