Cricket World Cup 2015: One day at a time? England move on from failure Down Under and turn attention to gruelling Tests ahead

The selectors have already met to plot their upcoming campaign, which begins in the West Indies in four weeks and will embrace 17 matches over eight months

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The Independent Online

England will attempt to move quickly on from their abject failure in the World Cup by looking to new horizons. With the stock of the team at an all-time low and with urgent changes needed of outlook and selection, the limited-overs format will again be placed in the pending drawer as soon as the squad returns home at the weekend.

Expect to hear no more of it for about three years, when a diligent work-experience boy or girl at the England and Wales Cricket Board will no doubt recover the paperwork and mention that there is a World Cup round the corner. As that will be in England in 2019 the scope for embarrassment is enormous.

In the meantime there is an abundance of Test cricket to play. The selectors, led by James Whitaker, have already met to plot their long Test campaign, which begins in the West Indies in four weeks and will embrace 17 matches over eight months. There is almost a sense of relief that the hot topic of one-day cricket and England’s hopelessness at it can now be dodged again.

 

While the top eight teams will be readying themselves for the World Cup quarter-finals, starting in Sydney on Wednesday, England will deflect attention from their absence by naming their squad for the three Tests in the Caribbean. Everybody will feel suddenly much more comfortable.

The selectors and their chums will unquestionably try to make the West Indies series something that it is not: a contest. England should beat their opponents by the distance which separates the islands of the region.

West Indies are weak and can barely muster the will to play Test cricket these days. They will be further debilitated by having several of their leading players performing in the Indian Premier League while the series against England is taking place. It will be worth watching, if only to observe the continuing decline of the classic form of the game.

At least the schedule that follows for England is properly gruelling: New Zealand and Australia at home, then, in short order, Pakistan and South Africa away. It will determine the present and future of several players. Peter Moores, who looks likely to continue as coach despite calls for his head, will have almost no wriggle room left.

The views of former players fill no one with confidence. The manner of the World Cup exit has brought home the paltry state of the team and the feeling that what has happened in one-day cricket may be duplicated in Tests.

Mark Butcher, the former England batsman, said that people should hide behind the sofa rather than watch the Ashes. Glenn McGrath, the great former Australia fast bowler, was in equally trenchant form at a function in Sydney.

He said: “There is a clear gap between the sides. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months with English cricket. There is a West Indies tour coming up and then they will get home with a Duke ball, which swings. But it will take a big effort to compete with Australia.”

McGrath was reluctant to reprise his long-term mantra, that any Ashes series would finish 5-0 to Australia. Not that he didn’t believe it.

“If I’d have said it would be 3-1 then people would have asked which match Australia were going to lose,” he said. “Sometimes I dug myself in a hole. I didn’t predict 5-0 in the last series until after the first day of the first Test. There is potential for Australia to repeat it.”

There is a long way to go. But at present McGrath may not have to wait for another ball to be bowled before making his usual forecast.

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