The talking points ahead of England’s three-match one-day series against Ireland

By Sports Desk September 19, 2023

England complete their international summer with a three-match one-day series against Ireland over the next week.

The hosts are carrying a fresh-faced squad after ringing the changes ahead of the World Cup, while Ireland are looking to make up for missing out on the tournament by dealing their neighbours a bloody nose.

Here, the PA news agency picks out some of the key talking points.

Root seeking rhythm

Joe Root will line up in Wednesday’s series opener at Headingley at his own request, having asked for an extra innings to find his form. Root is inked in as the linchpin of the side’s batting at number three in India but looked unusually scratchy in four innings against New Zealand. There are no real concerns over his ability to turn it on when most needed but a confidence-boosting knock on Yorkshire soil would go down a treat.

Captain Crawley’s audition

With the first-choice squad elsewhere, England have taken the chance to give Zak Crawley a taste of leadership. The 25-year-old is unproven as a top-tier white-ball player but after a starring role in the Ashes, when he scored 480 runs at 53.33, his confidence should be sky high. There is a desire among the hierarchy to see more individuals step forward as influential dressing room figures, part of a long-term view to succession planning, and Crawley has a perfect chance to show he has the character to carry a team.

Fresh faces in the frame

The selection panel has reached deep down the depth chart for the Ireland series, with four players handed the chance of an England senior debut. Sam Hain has been rewarded for consistently excellent numbers with Warwickshire, Jamie Smith’s stock has been rising ever since a breakout tour of Sri Lanka with the Lions. Seam bowler George Scrimshaw has a rawness that appeals in an up-and-coming seamer, while spinner Tom Hartley finds himself handily in the picture ahead of next year’s Test trip to India. Any of the quartet could see their stock rise sharply if they play their cards right.

Rehan returns to prominence

Last winter Rehan Ahmed burst on to the scene in remarkable fashion, becoming England’s youngest-ever men’s player in all three formats. It was a dizzying rise to prominence for the leg-spinner and one that left fans dreaming of what would happen next. But he has been treated cautiously since, spared unnecessary hype and treated as a developing talent rather than a ready-made star. He made a low-key home debut in a recent T20 against New Zealand, taking two for 11 and looking comfortable in the environment. Now he has the chance to build more valuable experience as he works towards becoming Adil Rashid’s long-term heir.

Ireland with a point to prove

Ireland have prided themselves on mixing it with the bigger nations, especially at major global tournaments, and their failure to secure a spot in India next month will sting. It may be a consolation prize, but a series over the water will always get their competitive juices flowing. They won the last ODI between the two nations, way back in the Covid summer of 2020, with Paul Stirling making a wonderful 142. A well-travelled county performer, Stirling is now the caretaker captain and will relish carrying the fight.

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