sport news The big issues facing 50-over world champions England as they return to the ... trends now
England begin preparations for the defence of their 50-over world title with a three-match series in South Africa, which starts on Friday.
Jos Buttler's side triumphed in the T20 final against Pakistan in November, becoming the first nation to hold both white-ball World Cups ahead of the 50-over tournament in India, which is nine months away.
Sportsmail explores the pressing issues facing white-ball coach Matthew Mott and his squad.
England continue to stick by batter Jason Roy (pictured) despite his recent drop off in form
CAN RUN-SHY ROY REPAY THE FAITH?
England continue to stick by the Surrey batter Jason Roy despite little sign of him clambering out of a long-term rut. He has acclimatised, having spent the past few weeks at the SA20. Although, worryingly for him at a time when rivals for opening spots are bombarding the selectors with their big hits, his form remains a miss.
In eight matches he has made a round 100, but England coach Matthew Mott on Tuesday pointed to his ‘world-class’ one-day international record — an average of 39.5 and a strike rate of 106. He also echoed the public commitment captain Buttler made to Roy with regard to his place in the 50-over side in the aftermath of last year’s Twenty20 axing.
Mott said: ‘It should be harder to get in the team than get out of it. This team has enjoyed a lot of success over a long period of time and Jason Roy’s been a big part of that.’
Roy has not hit a 50 for England in any of his last eight ODI innings but even if that sequence is extended in this three-match series, he appears bulletproof. For now at least. Fail in Bangladesh in March, however, where conditions will be similar to those at the World Cup in India, and it will be a different story.
WILL STOKES REVERSE 50-OVER RETIREMENT?
England coach Matthew Mott insists 'the door is open' for Test captain Ben Stokes to reverse his ODI retirement ahead of the World Cup
Mott revealed on Tuesday that he had spoken with Stokes a couple of times within the past three weeks about his selection, but England’s 2019 World Cup final match winner remains ‘non-committal’.
‘The door is always open for a player of that quality,’ Mott said. ‘But we are also very aware that his main focus is red-ball cricket as the captain. We respect that and when he’s ready to chat, we will do that.
‘We need to keep a really flexible, open mind to players and when we sit down to pick that 15 for the World Cup, we want to pick the best players possible.’
Leaving the door ajar