o sooner a dose of clarity regarding the World Cup was brought than England offered a glimpse of the unknown that lies beyond.
Even with the late replacement of Jason Roy by Harry Brook, the XV confirmed yesterday for the tournament in India has an aging feel, with skipper Jos Buttler barely stopping short of calling his team Dad’s Army.
The Buttler-led group includes just three players under 29, and several one-day withdrawals are expected at the end of the tournament. Others will be phased out, and the team that heads to South Africa for the next World Cup in four years will be markedly different.
And so to Headingley tomorrow and the start of a three-match series against Ireland in which members of the next generation and some who in less successful eras would probably be part of it, will have the chance to impress.
Fourteen members of the World Cup squad are resting before flying to India next week, with the exception of Joe Root, who will play at his home ground tomorrow at his own request after feeling unwell form against New Zealand this month.
In the batting ranks, Zak Crawley is captaining an England team for the first time, an indication of the esteem in which he is held ahead of a possible Test vacancy somewhere down the line, while vice -captain Ben Duckett, Phil Salt and Will The Jacks have all been flirting on the fringes on the white-ball side for some time.
Salt, in fact, has done more than that, winning the T20 World Cup last year, while the run given to Jacks as the opener in the recent T20 series against New Zealand suggests he is in contention for play a key role in defending this title. in the USA and the Caribbean next year.
Among the bowlers, injuries to Josh Tongue and John Turner have thwarted plans to control the country’s express pace depth, but Brydon Carse impressed against New Zealand, while any involvement from young spinner Rehan Ahmed tends to make the pulse beat.
Surrey keeper-batsman Jamie Smith is perhaps the most exciting of the uncapped contingent, the 23-year-old touted for Test honors before long and one of four likely debutants, along with Sam Main, George Scrimshaw and the late summons Tom Hartley.
For Ireland too, it is an opportunity. Frustrated at missing out on World Cup qualification, Andrew Balbirnie’s side are a well-oiled white-ball side who will be expected to show more resilience than in their test at Lord’s this summer. Balbirnie will return to the top of the order alongside Paul Stirling, with Curtis Campher promoted to No.3.