The announcement of England’s squad for their limited-overs tour of the West Indies and the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh brought some surprises and some interesting names.
However, it will not be plain sailing for the 2010 World Twenty20 champions by any means and already there are perhaps some shortcomings in their squad that may be exposed.
Let’s take a look at five flaws in England’s squad as they move into what is a crucial period of time for the national side.
All stats courtesy of ESPNCricinfo.
The first, and possibly most noticeable, issue with England’s crop of players is the lack of spinners, something that may prove to be a problem on the dusty pitches of Bangladesh.
Included in the squad as specialist spin options are just two players—James Tredwell and the uncapped Stephen Parry of Lancashire.
If he were to play, Parry would be the fifth different spin bowler used in all forms of cricket since the retirement of Graeme Swann, something that indicates a lack of options.
From looking at the full list, it would appear that part-time spinners Joe Root and Moeen Ali will be required to turn their arms over more frequently to give England more spin possibilities.
It may be that Parry takes his chance and performs well but if not then England will still be searching for answers as they begin life after Swann.
In the recent Twenty20 series against Australia, much was made of England’s “scary” top order, as described by captain Stuart Broad.
However, they failed to live up to their billing, with Michael Lumb, Alex Hales and Luke Wright all failing to average more than 15 with the bat.
Despite the time they spent in Australia’s Big Bash League, all three looked hopelessly out of form when it came to the international matches, and this must be a cause of concern for England.
They were expected to come out firing against the Australians and while that was in part down to some canny bowling, the batsmen must also take at least some of the blame.
All three will need to find their scoring touch—and fast—if England are to have a hope of building a platform at the top of the order.
In their fast bowling ranks, the performances of captain Stuart Broad and debutant Chris Jordan will have given England cause for cheer in the limited-overs matches.
However, away from those two, things do not look quite so convincing.
Tim Bresnan remains an accurate and reliable bowler, but he has clearly lost some of the pace he had in 2011 before having elbow surgery.
Also, England’s Twenty20 specialist Jade Dernbach took an absolute pasting at the hands of the Australians, conceding 141 runs in three matches and picking up just one solitary wicket.
They picked up on his variations well and dispatched them to all parts of the ground, and Dernbach will need to regain his form too if England are to avoid conceding huge totals.
As well as the openers, the form of England’s middle order is also some cause for concern as they move towards the World Twenty20.
The only man to score a half century in Australia was Ravi Bopara, who otherwise managed just 10 runs in the two other matches in the series.
Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Joe Root all struggled to make an impact and while they may find their feet in the Caribbean, if they do not it will be a real worry.
Beyond those four, options are very thin indeed.
Perhaps the biggest flaw of all is that from looking across this squad, very few have had experience of playing Twenty20 cricket against the best players from across the world.
Of the current crop, only Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara, Michael Lumb and Luke Wright have had any playing time in the Indian Premier League, the best Twenty20 proving ground in the world.
Several may have played in the recently-concluded Big Bash League in Australia, but the fact that so few have any experience of playing the shortest form on the pitches of the subcontinent is telling.
The pitches likely to be prepared in Bangladesh will present their own challenges, especially with just 120 balls to face in an innings, and England will be handicapped by their players not playing much in the IPL.