David Willey, who made his debut during the beginning of England’s ODI revolution and remained until its tragic conclusion—despite notably missing its pinnacle moment along the way—became the first player to formally declare this World Cup implosion to be its last.
Aside from timing, it was hardly shocking to learn of the seamer’s international departure; the decision was made after he was the only player remaining from a squad of fifteen on a core contract list that was nearly twice as long. However, this past weekend, following Jos Buttler’s team’s fifth straight loss—this time to Australia—that finally put a stop to their suffering, vice-captain Moeen Ali acknowledged the need for a more extensive change.
“Everything good comes to an end,” said the 36-year-old, whose own ODI retirement is expected to be imminent. “If I was in charge, I’d play the younger guys [after this tournament]. I’d just start again and I’m sure they’re going to do that. It’s common sense.”
Buttler and head coach Matthew Mott, whose own futures are also uncertain, have so far gone down a different route, sticking with a team made up exclusively of thirty-somethings as if trying to shield the like of Harry Brook, Gus Atkinson, and Sam Curran from the rut that has set in. None of that younger trio have featured in the three games since the defeat to South Africa but should surely be involved against the Netherlands on Wednesday, given it is their generation for whom failure to qualify for the 2025 Champions Trophy would have significant repercussions.
The previous edition of that forgotten tournament back in 2017 was a key staging post in the transformation of Eoin Morgan’s team and without it, as a mid-term target it is not difficult to see a scenario in which, for all the present outrage at England’s 50-over neglect, the format fades into the background once more, the 2027 World Cup too distant to be a priority.
A(nother) T20 equivalent next summer and a fresh batch of central contracts just dished out complicate the picture, but it will be intriguing to see the extent to which England’s leadership – whoever they may be – go all in on long-term planning at the start of a new 50-over cycle.
A fresh squad is expected to tour the Caribbean later this year, featuring the likes of Will Jacks, Phil Salt, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, and Ollie Pope, who is targeting the trip for his return from the dislocated shoulder suffered during the Ashes in June.
Those names tell of batting ranks well stocked with next cabs, several already with vast international experience in Test cricket, or else on the franchise scene. Sam Hain’s domestic consistency and Jamie Smith’s potential are expected to come into contention, too.
The future of England’s bowling attack is more muddled: Jofra Archer and Saqib Mahmood remain perennial fitness unknowns, Josh Tongue and John Turner were both injured before they could make experimental white-ball debuts in September, while the likes of Curran, Atkinson, Reece Topley, and Brydon Carse ought still to emerge from the rubble of this World Cup campaign. Rehan Ahmed is the outstanding spin prospect but remains raw and a recent Lions selection, albeit with a red-ball focus, confirmed England is prepared to cast their net wide.