It took 26 hours and 52 minutes. That is how long it took Jimmy Anderson to strangle Neil Wagner down the leg side in the second Test at the Basin Reserve, and Chris Woakes to defeat Tamim Iqbal on the outside edge in the first ODI at Dhaka’s Shere Bangla Stadium.
International teams playing on consecutive days has become all too common in the post-Covid era: last year, I was one of the few people present when England won their third One-Day International against the Netherlands in Amstelveen on the evening of June 22, and then again on the morning of June 23 for the first day of their Headingley Test against New Zealand. This time, it was physically impossible to fly commercially to both the finish of the Wellington Test and the start of the Mirpur ODI.
History will show that one player achieved the nearly unthinkable feat of being named to England’s squads for both games. Will Jacks left England’s second Test team on Saturday after being left out; he was nominally included as cover for the injured Tom Abell, but the ECB had studied the possibility of him entering the ODI squad even before Abell strained his side in Sri Lanka.
Jacks won his ODI cap from Surrey teammate Jason Roy on Wednesday, completing his entire set five and a half months – but only four games – after making his England debut in a T20I in Karachi. By then, Jacks had become the symbol of England’s scheduling quandary.
In September, he played two Twenty20 Internationals in Pakistan as Liam Livingstone was ill and Ben Stokes was rested as part of a trip to prepare for the T20 World Cup, which he would not play in. He played two Tests in Pakistan in December, partially because England’s scheduling forced Moeen Ali to retire from the format.
It’s an unusual timetable, but it’s not uncommon among England’s players. More than 60 players competed in international short-form events throughout the winter, and keeping up with England’s squads now requires regular attention: they played six matches across forms in 2023, and used 26 different players.
Jacks made an immediate impact in his ODI debut. He bowled numerous hard-spun offbreaks as England’s third spinner, allowing one boundary and picking up a lucky wicket when Afif Hossain miscued him to mid-on while hacking across the line. With stats of 1 for 18 in five overs, he was England’s most economical bowler.
Batting at No. 6 in the chase, he was frantic early on, scoring 10 off his first 23 balls, including an edged four, a caught-and-bowled chance from Mustafizur Rahman, and a couple of vicious swipes as he struggled to find his rhythm. He smashed three boundaries in his next five deliveries, including a lofted six over cover, before succumbing to Mehidy Hasan for 26 off 31 balls.
The pace of 50-over batting did not come readily to him, and why should it? This was Jacks’ first List. A game in four years, a scenario that would have appeared unimaginable for an England ODI debutant in any other era, has now become a reality due to the idiosyncracies of the schedule.
With England’s World Cup victory in 2019, the local 50-over competition has clashed with the Hundred. As a result, a generation of talented young white-ball players has had little exposure to one-day cricket since Under-19 level: Tom Hartley (10 first-class appearances, 59 T20s) and Tom Lammonby (33 first-class appearances, 62 T20s) both made their List A debuts last month while playing for England Lions in Sri Lanka.
After this tour to Bangladesh, Jacks will spend two months with Red Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, followed by Surrey and Oval Invincibles during the English summer. He will not play a 50-over game between the third ODI and England’s main event selection meeting, as will the majority of his teammates.
Clearly, the situation is far from perfect. Even if his most likely role in England’s squad is as a multi-talented back-up player capable of opening or batting in the middle order, England would not ideally give Jacks his debut seven months before the start of their championship defence.
He would ideally also play more 50-over cricket. Andrew Strauss’ high-performance research last year advised moving the One-Day Cup from August to April. “To win 50-over World Cups, England must allow its greatest players to compete in the format. With the current schedule, this is not possible “According to the evaluation. The counties, however, rejected the ideas, and the status quo will remain.
Yet, Jacks’ cameo was critical to England’s tenacious triumph, providing them with two chances to inflict Bangladesh’s first home ODI series defeat since England’s most recent tour in 2016. England’s one-day international performances have been dismal in the last year, but as Moeen Ali noted before this series, “we have lost 8 out of the last 10 – but we are also world champions.”
Despite having a half-strength side for the bulk of this cycle, England is second in the ICC’s Super League and second-favorite for the World Cup. It would be a great disappointment if they did not advance to the semi-finals.
Jacks’ ODI debut reflects England cricket’s slide since that disastrous day at Lord’s four years ago. Yet, he possesses the qualities – flexibility, versatility, and, most significantly, genius – that underpin England’s belief that everything will fall back into place come October.