John Bracewell claims his Ireland team are about to come up against a clutch of players who should have been at the World Cup, and might well have lifted England’s sorry campaign if they had been.
England will take on Bracewell’s hosts in Friday’s Royal London one-day international at Malahide with as many as seven debutants, and will be led by first-time captain James Taylor.
A unique set of circumstances dictates that the visitors are far from full strength, with many of their first-choice players barely out of transit after the Test tour to the West Indies.
Bracewell’s opposite number Peter Moores is under renewed pressure after the disappointing 1-1 draw in the Caribbean, and the New Zealander admits he does not envy the England head coach a jot.
Moores, he believes, must try to ensure he does not end up in charge of a “broken dressing room” after a failed World Cup campaign in which it became clear England’s tactics were all at sea Down Under.
Bracewell senses, though, that a new breed of attacking batsmen in the frame to play in Dublin may be capable of much better than those who took their place to little effect in Australia and New Zealand.
He said: “A lot of these guys thought they probably should have been at the World Cup – and to be honest, when you look at the strategy that was needed there, a lot of them perhaps should have been.
“They’ve got some big points to prove, and justify their case. So I don’t think they’ll be a soft target, that’s for sure.
“They missed the obvious chance, which was the World Cup, and a lot of them will be hurting about that.”
The absence of bigger names in England’s line-up has not deterred a near 10,000 sell-out for a match which will have to beat a highly unfavourable weather forecast.
Bracewell added: “I’m not disappointed at all (by England’s selection here), because I think they’ve picked a fine team that has a good chance of playing a lot of international cricket.
“They are damned good cricketers, and I think it’s a reasonably well thought-out side in terms of where England cricket could be going and probably strategically and statistically needs to go.”
He is adamant Moores’ team simply misread what was required at the World Cup - and must urgently update their methods.
“They need to change their strategy, if they’re going to compete at international tournaments,” Bracewell said.
“They pick their side to par scores, and par score means the bowlers have to win more than 50% of the games – that’s too much to ask of them under the playing conditions that currently exist.
“You have to have a batting line-up that’s actually going to get you above par.
“It’s as simple as that. They’ve failed to do that – and they can’t hide from that, because the statistics say that.
“You’re asking bowlers to win you games, and the rules aren’t geared up for that.
“If they don’t knock teams over in 15 overs ... you end up with a defensive mentality; then you end up with a broken dressing room.”
Bracewell advises the most important task for Moores, if retained in a developing new England management structure, is to work out which established players will still be an asset this Ashes summer and beyond.
“They had a period of strength and domination for quite some time,” he said.
“He’s got to work out whether those players need to be moved on because they’ve become complacent, or they’ve lost their fight or their ambition – or they’re starting to try to protect their own personal statistics.
“They’ve got some tough decisions to make over the next few months, because this is the start of what is a very, very tough summer for them.”
England’s first opponents after this one-off fixture will be Bracewell’s native New Zealand.
He said: “The New Zealand side are one of the better nations in the world in all forms of the game, and they will give (England) a tough road.
“(England) are going to be under the pump right from ball one this summer - and I don’t envy his (Moores’) task at all.”
Bracewell is much happier to be taking charge for the first time of an emerging team, on a mission.
“I think it’s a great cause to want to be involved in ... for any team to strive for Test cricket (status),” he said.
“Being a condensed populus of cricketers, they have that family atmosphere and camaraderie working towards that cause ... and that makes life a little bit easier to deal with.
“The foundations are pretty good.”