Head coach Matthew Mott says England’s tour of Pakistan has helped him settle on a first-choice XI for this month’s Twenty20 World Cup, with a heavy hint that Harry Brook has forced his way in.
England won an entertaining seven-match series 4-3 after walking away with Sunday’s decider in Lahore, a commendable achievement for a squad missing several big names.
Ben Stokes, Liam Livingstone and Chris Jordan all missed the trip but will join up in Australia later this week, while captain Jos Buttler acted as an observer in Pakistan as he opted not to risk his own recovery from a calf problem.
That means competition for places will be at a premium when England’s tournament gets under way against Afghanistan on October 22, but Brook seems to be a made man after a breakout performance.
A big series win to start a massive winter for our T20 team 🙌
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) October 2, 2022
He was the tourists’ top run scorer with 238, boasted a sizzling strike-rate of 163.01 and also led the six-hitting charts with 13.
“We’ve looked at the that first XI quite a bit…we’re pretty close. There’s always a bit of tinkering, form comes into it,” Mott told Sky Sports.
“There’s a few going home now and a few coming out, when we get to Australia it will become more apparent what those particular roles are.
“Obviously Harry Brook has had some really good hit outs and done well. He’s looked really composed out there and seems to just pick the right times to go for his boundaries.
“There’s been a lot of moving parts in this tour but we’ll welcome back some world class players and we hit the shores of Australia in a couple of days.”
There was also satisfaction that the experienced pace pair of Mark Wood and Chris Woakes both managed two successful appearances in the series, marking their first competitive action since March.
Wood offered devastating pace, hitting top speeds of 97mph and 96mph in his outings, while Woakes ended the trip on a high with three wickets for 26 runs in the concluding game.
“We came in with some injury clouds but we got through. Woody got through a few, Woakes got through a couple and we’re building nicely with that depth we are after for the World Cup,” added Mott, who turned 49 on Monday.
Buttler looks set to make his comeback in the three-game warm-up series against Australia, which begins in Perth on Sunday and wraps up Canberra five days later. He will reclaim the captaincy from Moeen Ali, who proved a reliable deputy, and Mott also confirmed he would be taking back the gloves even if Phil Salt edges out Alex Hales at opener.
Salt kept wicket for Manchester Originals during The Hundred, allowing Buttler to lead the side from the field, but that experiment is already at an end.
“We have had that discussion and if he’s fully fit he’ll look to keep,” said Mott.
“He had the opportunity in The Hundred to see a different side of it but he didn’t see a great advantage. With Mo and Stokes in the field, he can offload a little but he feels it’s the best view for him on the ground and the one he’s most accustomed to.”