You would have to say they are heavy favourites, if that was not already obvious. So far in this three-match ODI series against Ireland they have had a crushing victory and a comfortable one, although the distinction between the two was not really that massive. Ireland batted first both times and made a low-ish score, with England chasing down 173 inside 24 overs for the loss of four wickets in match one and 213 in 32.3 overs for the loss of six wickets in the second.
Perhaps, though, the third and final match of the series at the Rose Bowl will yield a closer result. Perhaps Ireland batting first, scoring 258 and England chasing it down inside… say, 41 overs for the loss of… seven wickets? It still seems a little strange focusing on an England ODI when the first Test against Pakistan begins tomorrow morning, but that is the world we are currently living in. And every one of the players selected to play in this match and the wider series will be pleased to be back in action, no doubt.
It is clearly not England’s strongest ODI side, but with the likes of World Cup winners Eoin Morgan, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Jonny Bairstow, and Jason Roy — not to mention David Willey, who only narrowly missed out on a place in the squad — it is certainly not too shabby.
For Ireland, the series is gone but there is still a decent opportunity to beat the World Champions, as they have done before. The problem is there is little to suggest they they are going to run them close today. The toss will take place in around half an hour with the match starting at 2pm. We’ll be here to take you through all of it, over by over.