England beat Pakistan 3-0 in their first T20I assignment of the home summer. With the T20I World Cup looming ever closer, here’s what we learned from the series.

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Gibson locked in at No.7

The most glaring question in England’s first XI going into this series was how they would fill their No.7 spot. Dani Gibson has been largely filling this role over the last year, but had failed unquestionably to cement her place having passed 10 only twice in nine innings. With Freya Kemp back, albeit as a batter only, and England looking for a seam bowling all-rounder in the position to balance their spin-heavy attack, it seemed near enough a straight shootout.

From the first T20I, however, Gibson marked her territory. After England collapsed early at Edgbaston, she hit 41 off 21 balls, not only staying with Heather Knight but advancing the run rate to ensure England reached a more than defenable total. She followed that with 18 off nine in the second match, showing her ability to be the explosive innings finisher England have been looking for.

Equally with the ball, she continued her success from the winter in New Zealand at the back-end of the innings. After conceding a 21-run over in the powerplay at Edgbaston, she was effective in the second and third games, making up for Nat Sciver-Brunt’s unavailability as a bowler, sending her four-over quota in the final match. Having come into the series needing to answer question marks over her place, Gibson was arguably England’s most important player during the series.

The No.3 question

After top-order collapses in the first two matches, England experimented with their batting order in the final T20I. Sciver-Brunt moved up to three while Alice Capsey slotted down to No.5. The move for Capsey is significant given that before the match she’d batted at No.3 in 26 out of her 28 T20Is since 2022. However, despite two half-centuries in 2023, she was out for single figure scores in nine out of 14 innings and the manner of her two dismissals in New Zealand and in the first two T20Is against Pakistan, out attempting big shots at crucial times, raised questions over whether No.3 was the best place for her. A longer run will be needed to determine the success of the move, Capsey was run out for one in the final T20I with Sciver-Brunt out for eight off 10 balls at three.

Filer’s place in the pecking order

With spin playing such a heavy part in England’s T20 World Cup plans for Bangladesh, the balance of their side looks set: three spinners locked in with Lauren Bell the first-choice specialist seamer, Gibson and Sciver-Brunt as seam bowling all-rounders and Capsey chipping in when required.

Nevertheless, there’s room in the squad for a back-up specialist seamer. While Lauren Filer has been the incumbent in this role since the New Zealand series, there’s still Mahika Gaur to come back in once her A levels are done and Kemp edging closer to bowling fitness. While Filer only played the final match of the series to allow Bell to sit out, she was impressive. Her two overs in the powerplay went for only nine runs and she kept the pressure on mixing up her lengths and bowling aggressively at good pace. She should have had two wickets in the game, the second nt reviewed but would have hit the stumps.

Cracks in the armour still visible

Regardless of the series result, there were moments in every match where England could have gone on to lose. They were 11-4 within three overs of the first T20I and Pakistan had the target within their grasp at 78-3 in the chase. They were 109-5 off 16.4 in the second match and Pakistan were 60-0 chasing 177 in the third. While it’s positive that in each scenario there was someone to step up and find a winning position, England are still searching for a dominant performance.

Where are Pakistan in the pecking order?

No one would have expected Pakistan to beat England coming into this series, and taking a match off them would have been a huge achievement. Pakistan had lost 4-1 to the West Indies earlier this month, but beat New Zealand 2-1 late last year. They also beat a near full-strength South Africa last year 3-0.

Having come fourth in their five-team group in the 2023 T20 World Cup having only managed to beat Ireland, the positions Pakistan put England in during the series show definite progress up the international pecking order. With a fully-fledged WPSL in the works for hopefully later this year, there are signs Pakistan could become a major international player in the not too distant future.