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ICC Champions Trophy: Mark Wood is England's 'trump card', says Nasser Hussain

April 25, 2017 2:37 PM
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ICC Champions Trophy: Mark Wood is England's 'trump card', says Nasser Hussain

The squad is a reflection on how well England have done in white-ball cricket over the last 18 months - you could literally have written each player's name out weeks ago. The side is so settled.

What we've had previously before major tournaments is that ridiculous last-minute change of plans: whether that be me coming into open in 1999 instead of Nick Knight, or the last World Cup where Gary Ballance was suddenly promoted to No 3 instead of James Taylor.

That's a thing of the past. This England management team have planned this squad for almost two years now, and even if some players are a little bit out of nick, they're sticking with them.

Mark Wood coming back in is 100 per cent the right thing. It's the only thing this side lack - that genuine wicket-taker when the pitch is flat.

Look at recent ODI scores in England; it is a batsman's game. And when the opposition are 150-3 and Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni are going well, or AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis, England will need a wicket-taker. Wood is that trump card.

From what we saw of him last year - at T20 Finals Day, or the odd Durham game live on Sky - he was bowling at the speed of light. A fit and firing Wood improves any white-ball side.

Liam Livingstone can perhaps feel hard done by not to be selected for the Ireland series, but whoever they picked, it isn't really guaranteed that they will play.

They've gone back to Ben Duckett, which I actually think is fair. He was a little bit harshly treated over the winter in that everyone confused his Test struggles with what he did in white-ball cricket - he played very well in the ODIs in Bangladesh.

And, is it better for Livingstone to keep playing and improving with his county, or getting an experience of what it is like being in an England squad albeit likely carrying the drinks?

Steven Finn has been named in that Ireland series, but will probably be the most disappointed of those not to make the cut for the Champions Trophy. He so often seems to be the fall guy, always just in and around the England squad.

But again, if I'm a selector I'm thinking: should Finn be continuously carrying the drinks for England at the Champions Trophy or bowling for Middlesex and getting himself in a good rhythm?

And from what I've seen of him so far this summer - against Essex he bowled one absolute beauty to get Ravi Bopara out - he looks like he is getting a bit of his mojo back.

The Ireland games are important for certain individuals. Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan are coming back after both sitting on the bench for the majority of the IPL, and it will help them get back into the rhythm of English conditions, with the ball moving around.

As for the other IPL boys who are staying out in India - Chris Woakes, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes - they are getting better with every game.

Playing with the best in the world, in high-pressure games, in front of 70,000 - like Woakes is for Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens - can only be a good thing.

There is a difference in playing a triangular ODI tournament, or a standard three or five-match series at home, as opposed to the Champions Trophy. If England have one bad day, that could be it, they're out.

It's about handling that pressure, making sure you don't have that bad day. England haven't quite got over that yet - they nearly did in the World T20 final last year, one over away from victory - but with these lads getting that experience in the IPL, it will stand them in good stead for a big semi-final or final.

Can England win it? Yes. They are one of the big favourites, but there's also Australia, India and South Africa - No 1 in the world currently - who are their major threats.

Also read: Amir fit for first England Test


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