By: Chinmay Vaidya
England and West Indies fought to a 2-2 series draw after rainout in the third ODI shortened the five-game set. England displayed its run scoring prowess in three matches before imploding in the final one-day. West Indies has to be happy with this result for its own championship chances, but it may have done England a huge favor ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
There isn't much to complain about in England's roster. The batting lineup is relatively set and features a good balance of aggressive and foundational players. Jason Roy, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow appear to have locked in their spots for the 2019 World Cup. With three spots slotted for bowlers, England has two spots to potentially improve an already potent lineup.
This is where the West Indies tour helped. Moeen Ali and Tom Curran were in the mix for those spots, but now England has plenty of reasons to not play either in meaningful games this summer. Ali and Curran were the only batsmen who failed to click in the Caribbean.
Ali scored 24 runs in three innings and floundered in the second ODI. He had a chance to carry England in a precarious situation and folded instead. Curran was worse, scoring a grand total of zero runs in the two innings he got. Alex Hales didn't need to do much to secure his place in the side and should be in England's starting lineup this summer.
On the flip side, West Indies needs to figure out how to balance a roster around Chris Gayle. Gayle has said publicly he's planning to retire after the World Cup, but putting up 424 runs and two centuries in four innings against England might have swayed his mind a bit. West Indies needs to hope it doesn't fall into the familiar pattern of having no batting behind Gayle in the event he busts, but that might not be an an issue with the emergence of Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope.
The reason West Indies is suddenly a fringe contender in England this summer is its pace attack. Sheldon Cottrell and his salute celebration took seven wickets in the one-day series, including a five-wicket haul. Oshane Thomas, a young pace bowler, took a five-wicket haul in the final one-day to seal the draw. With Kemar Roach, Jason Holder and Shannon Gabriel likely to be in the World Cup squad and Carlos Brathwaite also in the fold, West Indies have plenty of good pace options. In English conditions, West Indies should have a pace advantage in just about every game it plays.
It's rare to see teams take much from a drawn series just a few months before a World Cup, but both West Indies and England will be able to make positive tweaks to their respective rosters ahead of the competition.