With England completing a 2-1 Test series win over West Indies earlier this week, there’s little time to catch a breather as their ODI series against Ireland gets under way on Thursday.

Bairstow with a point to prove

While England will be delighted to have come from one down to defeat West Indies in the Test series, that will count for little when the ODI team take to the Ageas Bowl field to face Ireland on Thursday, given it will be a completely different set of players. Given the compact schedule of cricket this summer, the ECB made the decision to field two completely different outfits for their red and white ball fixtures over the coming weeks.

With England selecting their strongest Test squad available to them, that naturally means the ODI squad has been weakened, with the likes of Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Jos Buttler, who helped England’s ODI team win the World Cup last summer, all being absent from the Ireland series. That said, there’s still some exciting names involved – a mixture of new and old – for England fans to get excited about, and the hosts are quite rightly the 1/9 favourites, with Ireland at 5/1.

Any ODI team with an opening pair of Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy are always going to be a force to be reckoned with, with the duo’s opening partnership average and the rate at which they go about scoring their runs among the very best out there. Bairstow, in particular, will feel he has a point to prove to the England selectors, having been sidelined from the Test squad of late and will believe he deserves to be in the mix, either as a wicketkeeper-batsman or specialist batter. His recent century in an England warm-up game suggests he’s in form too.

Both Bairstow and Roy are 9/4 favourites to finish as England’s top batsman in the first ODI on Thursday, while one man to watch out for here could be Tom Banton at 5/1. Banton has shown real signs of promise in a Somerset shirt and has quietly gone about his business since his white ball debut for England last year. He hit a stylish 57 not out from 56 deliveries in an England warm-up game recently and will be eager to repeat the trick at the Ageas Bowl.

Ali to set vice-captain example?

In the bowling department for England, there are plenty of names who will also feel they have a point to prove against Ireland. Youngster Saqib Mahmood will want to impress, while David Willey, selected for the first time since missing out on 2019 World Cup squad, and Reece Topley, picked four years on from his last ODI cap, will also want to send out reminders that their international careers aren’t yet over.

White-ball specialist Adil Rashid is unsurprisingly the 3/1 favourite to be England’s top bowler on Thursday, but an outside bet could be Moeen Ali, who has been making steady progress since returning to the England white ball squad earlier this year.

When on the top of his game and full of confidence Ali is a real threat with both bat and ball in hand, his three wickets and innings of 85 in a recent warm-up clash suggest he’s in a good place currently. Ali has also been named vice-captain for this series under Eoin Morgan, and that could be the vote of confidence he needs to go on and shine in this series. Ali is 9/2 to finish as England’s top bowler at the Ageas Bowl.

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