The spot that Liam Dawson has in this World Cup squad belonged to Joe Denly. The Kent batsman fought his way into this England side on the back of some outstanding performances in County Cricket, winning the PCA Player of the Year on 2018. Despite being a top-order batsman who bowls very serviceable spin, Denly was drafted into this side as a spin-bowling all-rounder. It was a rare case of this set up picking a round peg for a square hole, and as Denly became an increasingly peripheral figure as England swept aside Pakistan, it was clear that he would not make the final 15 for England’s best chance of winning a World Cup in nearly 40 years.
Liam Dawson is far from a proven player at this level, having played just three ODIs since his debut in the summer of 2016, but he has a lot to admire about him. He is a clever spinner who can out-think batsmen, he is a very good fielder inside and outside of the circle and he can score important runs. In another era of England cricket, he would have played a lot more white-ball cricket. With Moeen Ali in the mix, he is only ever going to get a game when England are in very spin-friendly conditions overseas or if there is an injury.
That said, there are worse players to have in a squad, and given his big game temperament, the idea of coming in at short notice to play for England would not faze him at all. England will be hoping he is not needed, but they will back him if he is.
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