Cricket Expert & Columnist
England right to balance ODI squad against Ireland, says Michael Atherton
"There's a lot of bogus talk about looking to the future all the time, Win the games in front of you and more often than not, the future takes care of itself"
Last Updated: 27/07/20 5:04pm
Former England captain Michael Atherton feels the selectors are right to keep faith with several senior white-ball players for the upcoming ODI series against Ireland.
The 14-man squad for the three-match series, led by Eoin Morgan, also includes five other players aged 30 or above - all of who were involved in England's World Cup success last summer.
Vice-captain Moeen Ali, fellow spinner Adil Rashid and wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow all played in the tournament, while Joe Denly and David Willey featured in the build-up before missing out on the final cut.
Atherton believes that balance is the correct strategy, saying it would be a mistake to focus only on younger players who are more likely to feature in England's defence of the trophy in 2023.
"There's a lot of bogus talk about looking to the future all the time," said Atherton. "Win the games in front of you and more often than not, the future takes care of itself.
"I don't think you should just throw players out on the basis of age. If they're good enough, they should be in the side, as we've seen with Stuart Broad in the last two Test matches.
"Something I look back on with regret was after the 1996 World Cup, when I sat down with the selectors. I wasn't going to take the team to the next World Cup but there was thought about how we were going to prepare for it.
"Immediately they said 'for the next World Cup in four years, A,B,C and D are going to be too old - let's get rid of them'. The problem with that is, you need to be winning games as well.
"There's no point getting rid of a core number of players, then you go through 12 months where you're losing more games than you're winning and that loss of confidence filters through the side."
A quartet from England's World Cup-winning side - Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer - are unavailable to face Ireland as they are currently part of the bio-secure 'bubble' for the Test squad.
However, Atherton expects England to be more than capable of victory in the ODI series, which gets under way at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Cricket.
"You've got four names [missing] who would normally be a first-choice pick, but it still looks a strong squad, which suggests there's plenty of depth in English white-ball cricket," added Atherton.
"There are opportunities for young players like Tom Banton, for example, but you've got one or two oldies there like Joe Denly and David Willey - not that they'll want to be called that!
"Jonny Bairstow is the type of player who's a bit like Broad in the sense that, when he's got a point to prove, watch out. And he has been a fabulous player over the years.
"Even without the four core players I mentioned, you would expect England to win, but Ireland have got some good cricketers. It should be a good contest."
Watch the first ODI between England and Ireland live on Sky Sports Cricket from 1.30pm on Thursday.