England have been superb and abject in a one-day series of extremes that ended on Saturday with a humiliating seven-wicket defeat to give West Indies a deserved 2-2 draw.
Here Sportsmail looks at the highs and lows from the last 50-over series before England name their squad for the World Cup.
England achieved both extremes of performance during one-day series against West Indies
PLUMBING THE DEPTHS
There have been some dramatic implosions during England’s giddy journey to the top of the one-day world, but Saturday’s final ODI took the biscuit.
Not only did England suffer their biggest 50-over defeat in terms of balls remaining, but they did it just three days after hitting the same attack for 418!
Coach Trevor Bayliss is pulling his hair out at his team’s extremes.
‘We’ve had performances before when we’ve been disappointed but this left us embarrassed,’ said the coach. ‘This must be the worst we’ve had, just in the style of it and the way Chris Gayle then came out and whacked it.
‘It’s happened a few times and if it doesn’t sink in after this one so close to the World Cup, then there’s something wrong. It’s a wake-up call. We can’t expect to turn up at the World Cup and go through the motions.’
Coach Trevor Bayliss must be frustrated at the extremes of form shown by his team
England are adamant their problem is in adapting to different conditions rather than choking when the pressure is on, as it was when they had the chance to equal Australia’s world record of 10 successive ODI series victories. But they will not win the World Cup by being flat-track bullies, especially as all games will start at 10.30am when the ball is likely to swing or seam.
‘We talk all the time about playing smart cricket but we didn’t here,’ said Bayliss. ‘The wicket shouldn’t be an excuse because we’ve played on bouncy pitches before.
‘We can’t keep making the same mistakes. We were setting our sights on 220 or 230 in the dressing room and in the middle but we couldn’t put it into practice.’
England did not play smart cricket at times and West Indies earned a deserved series draw
PUT HAIR-DRYER AWAY
Bayliss is not the type to administer a Sir Alex Ferguson-type rollicking. He left the inquest on Saturday to the players.
‘I didn’t have to say much,’ he said. ‘Eoin Morgan started the conversation and three or four of the most experienced players joined in.
‘What we don’t want to lose is positivity. We need them to say, when they get on a wicket like this, “How can I still be positive? How can I score runs on a pitch like this?” And it might mean cutting out a particular shot or two on the day. It doesn’t mean you stop trying to score runs.’
Eoin Morgan led the inquest into England’s embarrasing display in the final one-day match
It is not all doom and gloom. The genius that is Jos Buttler showed in Grenada he could win the World Cup on his own if fortune favours him, while captain Morgan has banished any doubts there may have been about his ability to keep up with the modern freaks of the one-day game with the most consistent run of his career.
Adil ‘The Hoover’ Rashid has shown that if the captain backs him he has the confidence to thrive when the going is toughest. But, most of all, this one-day series has been exceptional for Mark Wood maturing into the very fast and effective bowler England always hoped he would become. ‘For the first time he’s injury-free and confident,’ said Bayliss.
Jos Buttler showed in Grenada he was capable enough to win the World Cup on his own
HANDLE WITH CARE
It is imperative England keep Wood fit and firing, so he is unlikely to be seen much in the three Twenty20 matches that end this tour. But they could have meaning for three players who see their World Cup places threatened by Jofra Archer.
Watch out then for David Willey, Tom Curran and Joe Denly, bidding for the batsman-third spinner slot that could yet go to Archer if England want to keep all their fast bowlers.
‘It’s a chance for them to get game time and show the selectors what they can do,’ said Bayliss. ‘Denly can cover a number of spots and that’s the advantage he brings while Willey provides left-arm swing in English conditions.’
After an impressive series, fast bowler Mark Wood must be kept fit for the World Cup
It is only right to leave the final word to West Indies and the remarkable Chris Gayle.
To win the Test series and then draw in 50-over cricket is a fantastic achievement for a resurgent team and the figures put up by the ‘Universe Boss’ were incredible.
He teased us all on Saturday by hinting he could go back on his decision to retire from 50-over cricket after the World Cup, but after smashing 39 sixes in four games and making two centuries and two half-centuries, why pack up even if his 39-year-old body is creaking?
Gayle and his team only just qualified for the World Cup but have the ability to cause surprises. But when England face West Indies in Southampton in June, they might want to start by bowling yorkers at Gayle, something they failed to do here.
The figures put up by ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle during the one-day series were incredible