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It seems a bit patronising to pick out the positives when a side has been dispatched twice in three days, with 133 balls to spare on the first occasion, and 105 on the second. But when those positives centre around the vastly assured arrival of Ireland's newest recruit, Curtis Campher, then it's only reasonable to doff the cap in acknowledgement.

It's early, after all, in one-day cricket's next four-year cycle - England's 20 points from two games are the very first entries in the new ICC Super League that will determine qualification for the 2023 World Cup. And given Ireland's struggles to move on from the golden generation that starred at the 2007 and 2011 events but failed to qualify in 2019, any shoot of recovery for the men in green is to be welcomed, especially one that has already been proven to be quite so sturdy.

After a brace of innings-salvaging half-centuries and three golden-armed wickets in his first two ODIs, Campher is currently averaging 127 with the bat and 25.33 with the ball - not bad for a 21-year-old. But for all his all-round prowess, can he possibly make enough of a difference to secure a consolation win against the world champions? All the signs suggest it is unlikely.

After all, England themselves have barely pootled along in anything more than third gear so far - both matches featured lapses in the field and stumbles with the bat that more seasoned opponents might have seized upon. And yet Jonny Bairstow's staggering burst of speed in his record-equalling half-century on Saturday was a reminder of the extraordinary power that this set of cricketers contain in their ranks.

Even in the absence of such marquee players as Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Joe Root, England have an enviable depth of free-flowing strokemakers - one of whom, Sam Billings, has seized on his rare opportunity for a starting berth in the 50-over team, having been limited to 10 intermittent outings in the previous four years.

Twice in the first two games, Billings was the mid-innings bulwark that his team required to guard against embarrassment, and with the bio-secure summer set to keep the big dogs at arm's length for a while yet, he's in the form and frame of mind to make up for the agonies - physical and mental - that he endured in a cruel 2019.

Billings' batting sidekick in the second match was also England's outstanding bowler of the series so far, and another man with ample incentive not to let the summer of 2019 dominate this team's narrative forevermore. David Willey was the luckless man to make way for Jofra Archer in England's final World Cup squad, and after taking some time to lick his wounds, he's back with a point or seven to prove.

You would put Reece Topley in the same bracket, only for another injury setback to rule him out of Tuesday's game. On the face of it, the third ODI will be a dead-rubber contest in a fallow period of the international cycle. But there's a hunger to prove some timely points on both sides that will keep the intensity high all the same.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)

England WWWLW
Ireland LLLLL

In the spotlight

The peaks of Jason Roy's ODI career are as high as any England batsman has ever climbed - his 180 against Australia at Melbourne in January 2018 remains a national record, while his opening partnership with Bairstow is already a statistical supernova. But in between whiles, he's endured a few troughs as well, including his first-over dismissal on Saturday which was the 14th of an ODI career that began (with a first-baller…) immediately after the 2015 World Cup - that is twice as many as the next man on the list, New Zealand's Martin Guptill, with six. Roy will doubtless carry on going for his strokes from the outset of an innings, safe in the knowledge that England value his lack of inhibition at the top of the order. But he'll feel he's due a score nonetheless after a fallow start to his summer, which included another duck for England Lions in last week's warm-up.

Josh Little might not have played in the second ODI had it not been for Barry McCarthy's injury misfortune in the opening fixture. But his unleashing on the series was the spark that Ireland's bowling attack desperately needed, as he scalped three prime wickets in a feisty display that culminated in an ICC reprimand for his fruity send-off to Bairstow. That rap on the knuckles notwithstanding, the fire in his belly was plain to see as he bombed out both Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali for ducks to leave England's chase looking momentarily forlorn. His left-arm angle and ingrained aggression give a slightly samey seam attack a vital point of difference, and at the age of 20, he's got time on his side to become an indispensable factor in Ireland's regeneration.

Team news

With the series secure, it's possible that England will fiddle their options to give Liam Livingstone an outing in the middle order, though it's not entirely clear who might make way for him. James Vince hasn't done terribly in compiling a pair of stereotypically fluent cameos (and besides, his seam bowling surely earned him another outing…), while Tom Banton needs game-time to extract his full potential. It's not impossible that Morgan himself will take a rain check for this one. With the ball, Topley grew into his first match in four years after a hesitant first over, but a left groin strain will keep him out for the next couple of weeks - which could mean a return for Tom Curran and his death-overs wiles.

England: (possible) 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 3 James Vince / Liam Livingstone, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Sam Billings, 6 Tom Banton, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 David Willey, 9 Tom Curran, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Saqib Mahmood

Will Porterfield has been a notable absentee for Ireland in the first two games, with the new captain Andy Balbirnie stamping his authority on a team brimful of youth. But, even with top-order runs at a premium, the ex-skipper's experience may not be sufficient to earn him a recall - Balbirnie hinted that the youth policy was "sink or swim" in the wake of Saturday's loss. The selectors delayed naming a 14-man squad until the morning of the game, with Mark Adair added to the group after missing the first two ODIs with his ankle still causing him problems on the road back from a long lay-off. Adair was Ireland's leading wicket-taker in 2019 across formats, and looks likely to play.

Ireland: (possible) 1 Paul Stirling, 2 Gareth Delany, 3 Andy Balbirnie (capt), 4 Harry Tector, 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 Lorcan Tucker (wk), 7 Curtis Campher, 8 Simi Singh/Craig Young, 9 Andy McBrine, 10 Mark Adair, 11 Josh Little

Pitch and conditions

The second match was played on the same pitch as the first, but this third game will take place on a fresh strip, which may persuade Balbirnie to aim for third time lucky with the bat and try to take first use once again. Certainly the weather is set fair, with high cloud and temperatures in the low 20s Celsius, which would imply little atmospheric assistance given the afternoon start.

Stats and trivia

  • England's victory on Saturday was their 10th in 11 completed ODI encounters with Ireland since 2006, with the famous loss at Bangalore in 2011 the only loss.

  • The culmination of England and Ireland's maiden three-match series means the two sides will have played as many matches in a week as they had contested in the previous four years.

  • Andy Balbirnie needs 72 more runs to reach 2000 in ODIs


"I'm not going to lie, it does feel unnatural at the moment. It's about giving myself a chance because I know I can catch up. If I'm in for 40, 50 balls, I back myself to catch up. But I don't want to put too much pressure on myself, it's the first few times I've batted there so I'm not expecting too much."
Tom Banton is still getting used to the No.4 berth in England's ODI line-up.

"One of us has to go in and get a big score. We're well aware of that. I can't speak for Andy or Paul, but I'm not putting any extra pressure on myself to go out tomorrow and try prove people wrong. I'll just try to play my own game, and if the ball's there to hit, I'll try and hit it."
Kevin O'Brien knows that Ireland's senior batsmen need to step up