Matthew Mott – England close to T20 World Cup squad after bounce-back

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Matthew Mott has said that England are “very close” to settling on their squad for the T20 World Cup next June.

England are currently tied at 2-2 in their five-match series against West Indies, in a contest that has been enthralling throughout with over 100 sixes hit in four matches.

The series has been invaluable preparation for England, with all of their group-stage fixtures for the World Cup next year expected to be in Antigua, Barbados and St Lucia.

“We always said with this series we’ll go pretty close to the side we’re looking for, otherwise why would they be here?” Mott said, a day out from the series decider. “We don’t get many opportunities to play together before the World Cup. So this is a very strong team we’ve bought out here.”

Of particular certainty is that the opening pair of Jos Buttler and Phil Salt is expected to continue, meaning Jonny Bairstow will have to find another route into the team, potentially at the expense of Will Jacks at No.3.

“It’s looking pretty good, isn’t it?” Mott smiled when asked about the Buttler-Salt pairing that has put on back-to-back century partnerships in their last two innings. “We’ve got a lot of time between now and then. Obviously, Salty has put an undeniable case there and Jos is one of the greatest of all time. So how we get that top six or seven going will be an interesting thing.”

There are currently 15 players out in the Caribbean, the same number that will be named for the World Cup squad, with Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer guaranteed to come back into the set-up, fitness pending.

“I think that’s a given,” Mott said of whether the duo would would be in the mix for World Cup selection. “Ben, aside from his incredible match-winning ability in every department, gives us that ability to have a seam bowler in your top six that gives you so many options with your team balance…It makes selection a hell of a lot easier. So that’s a given.

“In terms of Jofra, you’ve just got absolute box-office pace, change of pace, bowl any over in the innings. Bowl your Super Over, bowl your last over when they need to. Him on the park is massive, everyone would agree with that.”

Mott confirmed that Bairstow is also within that group of players who will automatically return to selection discussion but was not asked about Mark Wood.
Such a small squad leaves little chance for too many changes. Unless injuries strike, it seems likely that Ben Duckett and John Turner will be the first two names to drop out of the squad, with Gus Atkinson and Tymal Mills then left to battle it out if Wood returns, whilst Bairstow would have to come in for one of Jacks or Moeen Ali.

That such big names are at risk of missing out is testament to the strength in depth of a group that, despite a torrid couple of months, have produced two superb performances to come back from 2-0 down and force a decider in Trinidad on Thursday.

“I enjoyed them both,” Mott said, when asked if he preferred one of England’s style of victories over the other. “Losing the toss over here, getting sent in, all the stats showed us [Tarouba] was a low-scoring ground. What we talked about after the last game was we had to play with that intensity, whether we’re batting first or chasing. That was the most pleasing thing from yesterday, is that it would have been easy to get a 180 score, 20 or 30 above par, but as soon as we got off to that really positive start, we just kept the foot down as if we were chasing a massive score.”

Mott also spoke highly of the impact that Andrew Flintoff has had on the group, with a team meeting following England’s defeat to go 2-0 down sparking a change in approach.

“There was a realisation that the game that West Indies were bringing to us was certainly a power game and talked about matching fire with fire.

“A few people spoke. Jos spoke, Freddie spoke and I spoke about that. I’ve really enjoyed Freddie’s perspective, coming in as a guy who’s experienced the highs and lows of the game, to come in and he’s added a lot of fresh energy. It’s a great perspective, obviously what he’s been through in the last year or so. Sometimes it’s just a couple of words here and there, but essentially it came from within the playing group.”

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