In a bio-secure bubble in Southampton, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid and David Willey continued to prove the age-old adage – ‘Strong Yorkshire, Strong England’. After the White Rose completed a stunning Bob Willis Trophy win in the North of the country, England’s limited-overs side lost out in a tight finish, with Ireland’s batsmen chasing 329 to win. Despite this, Eoin Morgan’s men will be happy with their series, with a number of players standing out, none more than Yorkshire’s Willey.
With England sporting separate squads in white-ball cricket to that of the Test team, England found themselves without all-rounders Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes. This provided an opportunity for Willey, who’s last international appearance came against Pakistan at Emerald Headingley prior to last summer’s ICC Cricket World Cup.
With the ball, the left-armer claimed eight wickets, including a career best 5 for 30 in the opening game to leave the Irish batting line-up in turmoil. Added to this, a series economy rate of 5.16 shows control alongside the 30-year-old’s threat when the ball swings.
With bat in hand, Willey looked his destructive self, smashing 47 not out in the second game to guide England to the victory target. In the final game, with the Three Lions in some trouble, the left-hander again made a classy 51 to display his all-round talents.
A deserved ‘Player of the Series’ award was just reward for Willey’s efforts, with the all-rounder certainly making a statement to the England selectors ahead of future selection meetings.
Ever reliable in one-day cricket, Rashid once again proved his worth in the series claiming a further five wickets to take his career tally to 151 ODI wickets. The leg-spinner used all his skills, bamboozling the Irish batsman, recording a series economy rate of just 4.03.
Undoubtedly one of the finest white-ball spinners in the world at present, Rashid will be eyeing up plenty more wickets and hopefully even more World Cup glory.
It is surely no coincidence that England’s rise to white-ball glory has coincided with Bairstow’s dominance at the top of the order. Utilised in the middle-order earlier in his career, the explosive opener’s move to the top of the order has revolutionised England’s one-day strategies, with the prospect of bowling to Bairstow and Jason Roy making bowlers lose sleep all over the world. Whilst it was a relatively quiet series by Bairstow’s very high standards, the Yorkshireman showed what he can do in the second ODI, smashing 82 off just 41 balls.
The trio, who will now return to Yorkshire, will be in the box seat to be named in the England squad for the IT20 series against Pakistan that starts later this month.