The gaggle of naysayers that gather every time England take to the field to play an ODI will finally get their way, if only for one game, after it was announced that Alastair Cook will be banned for the fourth one-dayer with Sri Lanka.
The ICC handed out a mandatory one-game ban to Cook after England bowled their reduced 35 overs in the third ODI 20 minutes slower than required. It was the second time the side has been guilty of slow over rates in 12-months, prompting the sanction.
Having just claimed only the second ODI victory in nine outings, and showing a modicum of improvement in his personal performance too, the news will be bittersweet for Cook, but joyously celebrated by his detractors.
Eoin Morgan will lead the side in the Essex man’s absence and the long-called-for opening partnership of Alex Hales and Moeen Ali will have a brief chance to shine.
With the series now 2-1 after the Hambantota victory, any display of authority under Morgan’s charge will only serve to heap more pressure on Cook, who stands accused of holding back a potentially exciting side with slow batting and wooden captaincy.
Chasing 242 under the Duckworth Lewis method, Ali once again provided the spark to England’s innings, with Hales contributing useful runs and Joe Root and Jos Buttler combining in inventive fashion to seal the deal.
Those four, with Morgan due a score in the near future and Ravi Bopara in flowing form, have the firepower to transform the way England’s hitherto stodgy line-up is viewed, while the bowling department is rife with competition for places.
So while England still have work to do to win this series, they look to stand a better chance at 9/2 with one win under their belt and an out-of-form Cook unavailable for a game.
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