From Moeen Ali to Mark Wood, England are about to have a proper clear-out – will any of this World Cup squad still be around in four years’ time (or even next week)?

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It’s the nature of modern cricket that international cricketers don’t so much retire as go part-time. But while a good few members of this England World Cup squad will also be part of the England T20 World Cup next year, when it comes to one-day internationals (ODIs), this is pretty much it for a very large number of them.

England have had big clear-outs after previous World Cups of course, but given their performances in those events, it’s usually felt like a blessed relief.

This time around it’s a different thing. While in this particular tournament they’ve clearly stunk up the place like poorly wrapped Vieux-Boulogne (which is banned from public transport in France), most of these guys have won World Cups in both white ball formats and also took England to a number one ranking in ODIs that for a while there actually felt like it meant something.

So there’s a sadness in moving on. But with the next meaningful 50-over games four years away – because really only World Cups matter – moving on is going to very suddenly happen. Basically now.

All of us occasionally get an acute sense of the passage of time when we look in the mirror or attempt to put our socks on in the morning, but the cruelty of world tournaments is that sometimes it’s not about now – it’s about four years’ time. As a cricketer, you’re sometimes older than you think.

To give some examples, here’s how old some of the current England World Cup squad will be in 2027.

  • Moeen Ali, 40
  • Jonny Bairstow, 38
  • Jos Buttler, 37
  • Liam Livingstone, 34
  • Dawid Malan, 40
  • Adil Rashid, 39
  • Joe Root, 36
  • Ben Stokes, 36
  • Reece Topley, 33
  • David Willey, 37
  • Chris Woakes, 38
  • Mark Wood, 37

How many of those guys are you keeping around? Reece Topley if he can stay fit? Joe Root, we suppose – assuming he can recover some form.

Ben Stokes has already retired once and has only really made a slight return – Bowling Stokes and one of his knees didn’t really turn up for this tournament.

Liam Livingstone’s only ever faced 467 balls in ODIs, including those at this World Cup. It feels a bit late to be investing caps in him.

Adil Rashid might be able to nurse his shoulder through, but he’s been playing white ball World Cups for England since they lost to the Netherlands in 2009. A man can only take so much punishment.

So how many of those guys are you keeping around? Quite possibly none of them.


We’ve spotted that it’s vitally important to larger publications that you, the reader, regularly gets an opportunity to HAVE YOUR SAY on the issues of the day. Hey, who knows, maybe you’ll end up having a long and rambling argument with someone, thus improving site ‘engagement’.

We obviously value your opinions just as much, so here’s an inflammatory leading question to answer, plus some inflammatory suggested answers. Please fall out with each other in the comments below.

What tactics should England employ to let older players go?

  • Calmly and methodically outline the situation, step by step, and wait patiently for the moment of clarity when each player suddenly sees the bigger picture and their absence from it.
  • Engineer arguments in the hope that players will strop off and retire so that there’s no need to actually deliver any bad news.
  • Stop paying wages and hope people stop coming into work.
  • Alienate with demotions. Say a player is only going to be used as ‘the spare batter’ or a ‘travelling reserve’ in the future and hope they take the hint.
  • Offer even more money to retire.

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  1. Pakistan need to beat England by 287 runs or chase a target in 2.3 overs.

    Wouldn’t put it past them.

  2. Of the provided options, the below seems the best:

    “Stop paying wages and hope people stop coming into work.”

  3. Of that list I will obviously be sad to see them all go. However, the time feels right for pretty much all of them.

    I wouldn’t shut the door on Topley, but I think its becoming unfortunately clear that it isn’t going to happen for him.

    I would keep Buttler, but that might be more to do with it being really sad if the most talented batter possibly in English cricket history is done with international cricket just past his 33rd birthday. If he wants to, I think he could still have the next WC as his swansong.

    The third and final one I would keep is a bit rogue, but I like the idea of Rashid carrying on. Making the next WC at 39 is probably a bit touch and go (although again, not impossible), but even if he does 18 months of helping Rehan is all we get then it would be worth it for me.

    1. My England team going forward would be:
      Zak Crawley
      Ben duckett
      Sam hain
      Harry brook (c)
      Ben foakes (wk)
      Phil Salt
      Will Jacks
      Rehan Ahmed
      Gus Atkinson
      Josh tongue
      Jofra archer

      A good mix of youth (but not too young) and experience (but not too old).
      Wouldn’t mind keeping both joe root and jos buttler for the time being but if buttler stays we must nurture a new captain ahead of the next world cup or end up with the same problem as the test team had last year. And with root he is the only player in the one-day team that would be playing every test match too and he will be 37 come the next world cup so it might be better off leaving him out now. Brook would be a good captaincy option over Crawley as brook would play all formats but Crawley wouldn’t play t20s and brook would bring a bit of a bazball approach to the 50 over side.

  4. None of the players on King Cricket’s list should be retained, with the possible exceptions of Topley and Rashid (although what you say about injuries and motivation gives one pause). None of the players on the list should be selected for a 50-over international again. Buttler is a hopeless captain, and this does not need further demonstration in any format. The precise mechanism for undoing the contracts that shouldn’t have been offered is up to the ECB’s legal advisers; if it is cheapest to run off the contracts without selecting the players, so be it. If the contracts can be more cheaply rescinded for non-Test playing over-30s, great.

  5. Pick them all next time – including another last minute effort to get Jofra in with Willey’s place contingent. There will be so few 50 matches played before the next WC that they’ll still be the blokes most recently in form.

  6. To go for the serious answer, I think they just drop them. Stokes and Ali will probably go of their own accord, and Willey already has. They could do a “manage his workload for tests” excuse for Wood, but for Bairstow, Livingstone, Malan, Woakes, Rashid it’s time to bring out the axe, keeping Root and Buttler for “experience”. There, I’ve had my say!

  7. I’m still trying to get past…

    “All of us occasionally get an acute sense of the passage of time when we look in the mirror or attempt to put our socks on in the morning”. 🙁

    I’ve decided to stay in bed today.

  8. The problem with deciding things based on age is that such arguments tend to be highly subjective and often only based on immediate events. Consider Kohli – he will be 39 in 2027. Can you claim he definitely won’t be in the next World Cup squad? Bad runs of form for good cricketers tend to be ephemeral and I fully expect people like Root to bounce back. Apart from Stokes (who obviously will retire again), I don’t see why anyone in that list shouldn’t play in 2027 assuming they maintain a good level of fitness. They’re all fantastic cricketers who just had a shit series, that’s all.

    1. No, this is just it. There’s no real reason why any of them wouldn’t be capable of making it. But we also know that very few of them will make it. A lot of it comes down to appetite.

  9. I’d keep Root, Buttler and Topley but expect Buttler to retire from international cricket after the 2024 T20 World Cup fiasco where he averages 8.39 with the bat and drops a hat-full of chances behind the stumps.
    He’ll go on to say that the team need to trust in the process of elitely poor batting in a press conference but a mutiny led by Phil Salt will cut him adrift in a pedalo somewhere off the coast of Florida after the embarrassing 20 run defeat to Papua New Guinea.

  10. Look on the bright side – that list of probable retirees would have looked a lot more concerning for England’s future success a couple of months ago.

  11. Might I be so bold as to suggest that they pick the next 50-over team on the basis of the Test team instead of the T20 side? That way, they’d have some batters with recent experience of building an innings (or at least watching the opposition doing so.) Presumably, unless the pendulum swings hard away from Bazball (Boycottball?), the Test players will still be scoring at five an over and playing in the IPL/Hundred/Saudi “Don’t Think About The Oil or the Murder” International Bonanza, so it’s not like they’d lose touch with the white-ball game…

  12. England are very famous for having fall players to take the blame for a defeat whilst the favourites will clearly remain, history of mismanaging players is the order
    Buttler should play, but not as captain, Root for me, should go dropping Malan today because he will be 40 when the next WC comes round is a crime as he is the best batter by far, Topley has to be there as well as Willey
    There are plenty of good young players around who will make it, if they are handled properly

  13. I really do think it would be very funny if India don’t win the World Cup after absolutely steamrollering everyone in sight. I would even take Australia winning it for the comedy value.

    1. Surely we would all prefer the irony of South Africa FINALLY not choking or New Zealand just for once getting over the line. Please not the Aussies and their insufferable smugness.

      1. The Big Show has actually converted me to the Aussie cause. Only temporarily, I promise. That display left me feeling “well I hope they go and do it now”.

  14. Well, Willey has announced his retirement from all forms of the game, and who could blame him.

  15. My preference is to pay cricketers *not* to play cricket, as in Stanislaw Lem’s “Pericalypsis”.

    One can extend this approach to the crowded fixture calendar as well, but it will probably necessitate paying sponsors not to sponsor cricket.

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