England ODI squad - Cook (c), Ali, Bell, Bopara, Buttler, Finn, Gurney, Hales, Jordan, Morgan, Root, Stokes, Taylor, Tredwell, Woakes
7 ODI's - 26th November - 16th December 2014
England head to Sri Lanka for a 7 match ODI series later this month, in preparation for the 2015 World Cup.
It beggars belief why the ECB in their infinite wisdom decided that an England side lacking in confidence should go to Sri Lanka, especially with the spin friendly conditions, in which England have always struggled, and not to mention the oppressive heat. The pitches and conditions will be completely alien to what they will encounter in Australia & New Zealand in January/February 2015. A pointless tour.
I can understand the need for players to get some game time before the World Cup, but due to the conditions in Sri Lanka, players are going to play, who should be nowhere near the side in the World Cup. The idea of warm up games is to find a settled side, it cannot be done in Sri Lanka. James Tredwell will have to play in Sri Lanka, however can you imagine what the likes of Aaron Finch, David Warner, Brendon McCullum, Chris Gayle and the Indian players will do to his non-threatening off spin in the World Cup, a scary thought!
Personally, there would have been more benefit in playing the South African A side, in South Africa, as these conditions would have allowed you to play your preferred line up, barring the two injured bowlers, Stuart Broad and James Anderson. In a way, it is good news that Anderson is injured for this tour, as playing in tours like this, is doing damage to him prolonging his test career, especially with the Ashes next summer in 2015. We know what Anderson and Broad can do, let them get fit and give them a new ball each in the World Cup, and watch them fire!
Then we move to the conundrum of Alastair Cook's captaincy of this side. Whilst his captaincy is negative and uninspiring, and consistently under scrutiny, in my opinion, his actual place in the side should be under question. Let's have a look at two sides who could play in Sri Lanka, one with Cook, one without:
Cook (c) Root
Morgan Morgan (c)
Ali Buttler (wk)
Buttler (wk) Woakes
As you can see dropping Cook allows you to bring in another front line bowler, who can bat a bit. Also the side's batting strength is not too severely affected, in fact it allows Mooen Ali to bat in a position more suited to his capabilities rather than crow-barring him into the team at number 7.
Would changing the captain now greatly affect England's World Cup chances? I'd say if anything it would increase England's chances. Under Eoin Morgan's stewardship, he would be more aggressive in the field and his attacking approach would enable us to get early wickets and stop the opposition accelerating to the 300+ scores, which the English side struggles to chase or even post.
A World Cup starting X1 of:
Is a vibrant, exciting selection which could beat any side on it's day and in a knock out competition that is all what is required.
But back to the Sri Lankan tour, I wouldn't predict much from this series, apart from a good drubbing. After 5 games, I expect Sri Lanka to lead 4-1. England might pick up a few wins in the dead rubbers, but I except us to move onto Australia as a beaten and dis-spirited side.
Published on www.countrylife.co.uk November 17, 2014
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