ICC T20 World Cup Preview: Who Should Be In England’s World Cup Bowling Attack?

One of the biggest factors behind England’s climb up the white-ball rankings under Eoin Morgan over the past half a decade or so has been their superb bowling attack. The Three Lions boast a jaw-dropping combination of aggressive pace bowlers, crafty spinners, and specialist white-ball players that know how to keep the run-rates down under intense pressure at the end of an innings. 

It was one of the biggest factors behind the 2019 ODI World Cup triumph on home soil, however ahead of this year’s ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman, Eoin Morgan and co. have been dealt some harsh blows with injuries to the likes of Jofra Archer and Sam Curran. With the likes of Joe Root and Ben Stokes also unavailable for selection, who should be in England’s bowling attack once the tournament kicks off?

Who Are England’s Seam Options?

Players in England’s Preliminary Squad: Chris Jordan, Tymal Mills, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Tom Curran

The seam bowling department of England’s white-ball sides has been the most severely hit in the build-up to this year’s T20 World Cup, with both Jofra Archer and Sam Curran going down injured. 

However, where there is an injury there is an opportunity, and the door has been opened for the likes of David Willey, Chris Woakes, and Tom Curran. David Willey was the opening white-ball bowler under Eoin Morgan from 2015 for England, though he was infamously dropped ahead of the 2019 World Cup. Since then,, however, the white ball specialist has really put himself back in the shop window with strong performances for Yorkshire, the Chennai Super Kings, and Northern Superchargers in The Hundred. He is also perhaps the most capable batsman out of the bowlers in the preliminary squad. 

With over 100 appearances for England’s ODI side, Chris Woakes has been one of the most solid and reliable figures for the Three Lions over the past decade. Whilst his record away from home is noticeably inferior to his one at home, Woakes did make his first T20 appearances since 2015 in the team’s recent home summer series against Sri Lanka. 

Tymal Mills was the surprise pick in England’s initial T20 World Cup squad, being given the nod ahead of Tom Curran, after a stellar white-ball season with the Sussex Sharks and Southern Brave in the Blast and Hundred respectively. Though his injury record is a concern, few in the world have the level of experience with white ball pace bowling as Mills, and he could well prove to be a crucial cog in swaying a few cricket betting markets as the tournament gets going. 

Who Are England’s Spin Options?

Players in England’s Preliminary Squad: Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, Liam Dawson

England’s spin department has arguably been the biggest cornerstone of the team’s successes over the past few years and is probably the best example of the types of skills white-ball bowling can bring with it to the table. 

Adil Rashid is still ranked as the fourth-best bowler in T20s according to the ICC, and one look at his variety in pace, spin, length, and overall types of deliveries will show any cricket fan why he has been so crucial to England’s bowling attack over the years. Rashid is the ultimate spin bowler, capable of bowling leg-breaks, sliders, to-spinners, and googlies, and only Chris Jordan and Stuart Broad have more wickets in T20s for England than the Yorkshireman’s 65.

Moeen Ali announced his retirement from red ball duty with England earlier this 2021, having never really found a settled spot or role in the whites with the Three Lions. The same cannot be said for his time with the white ball, however. Moeen has struck up a mighty relationship with Rashid as England’s spin twins in one-day cricket, doing a stellar job at using all of his skills to keep the run-rates down during the middle part of an opposition innings. 

Given the pair’s chemistry, and the spin-heavy conditions in the UAE and Oman where the tournament is set to be hosted, it seems likely that Eoin Morgan will call upon both Rashid and Moeen as two of his chief bowlers.  

Verdict

Bowling in T20s has developed into far more than just picking the best players available and asking them to hold up an end; it is now a diverse tree of roles and responsibilities that not every bowler has in their arsenal. It is a captain’s job to identify, select and employ these specific roles at the right times, and Eoin Morgan certainly has a wealth of options at his disposal 

As England’s recognised T20 specialist, best fielder, and designated death bowler, Chris Jordan is an absolute auto-include in Morgan’s attack. Moeen and Rashid are England’s best spin bowlers which, when blended with their batting abilities, chemistry together and the conditions in the UAE, should also see them come in as picks for the Three Lions. 

Everyone else in the attack however has a sizeable question mark over their head. David Willey will not have the swing conditions he so frequently relies on, Chris Woakes’ record away from home is a major concern, and both Mark Wood and Tymal Mills will need heavy rotation, even when picked, in order to keep their fitness up. Tom Curran has superb death bowling ability, however, the fact he wasn’t even included in Morgan’s first preliminary squad, as well as the 2019 World Cup team, should speak volumes about how much he is really trusted by England on the biggest stage.

England are heavy favourites to make it back-to-back World Cup wins in most cricket betting odds, however failing to get their bowling attack absolutely spot on will quickly see those odds start to slide away from them. 

It will be fascinating to see how Eoin Morgan manages his squad of players and who the England captain does end up calling upon once the side line up to play their opening game against the West Indies on 23rd October.