England return to Lord’s with series win in their sights


It’s a week short of two years since England played an ODI at Lord’s, and barring a 500-plays-500 tie, it’s hard to see how Saturday will match their last outing there.

The euphoria on London’s streets in the past two weeks as England’s footballers edge closer and closer to European Championship glory has rarely been matched in terms of scale, but the scene in Trafalgar Square on July 14, 2019 was as close as another sport has come to replicating it in recent memory – limbs flying and beer thrown when Jos Buttler ran Martin Guptill out three miles away as England won their first 50-over World Cup.

Needless to say, Saturday’s cast will be much-changed from the group that lifted the trophy, with only two of the 15 World Cup winners involved in both squads.

In the aftermath of that final, the idea of Ben Stokes captaining England in an ODI in 2021 would have involved Eoin Morgan retiring prematurely and an injury to Buttler as a bare minimum, but these are unprecedented circumstances.

Stokes’ involvement in Thursday’s thrashing at Cardiff was minimal, bowling a single over and being unused as a batter, but he can expect a greater role on Saturday.

The other survivor is James Vince, whose international career looked as good as over until sporadic namechecks from Morgan while he was scoring freely in the BBL over the winter and this week’s last-minute recall.

Vince was on the field as a sub fielder for Mark Wood during the Super Over two years ago, but one intervention he made in the final is little-known. With two required off the last ball, Vince came out as 12th man with a towel and a drink.

“‘I think we win if we get a single,’ Vincey told me,” Stokes recalled in his book On Fire – mercifully, he checked the details with Marais Erasmus, rather than clipping a single into the leg side and celebrating with open arms on reaching the non-striker’s end only to find out there was still work to do.

Much as Lord’s holds fond memories for Stokes and Vince, England have not been hugely successful there over the last six years.—Agencies

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