Two England Squads for Sri Lanka

Andrew McGlashan in 24 September 2014 …where blog comments can also be found

Alastair Cook has been confirmed as England’s captain for the World Cup while James Taylor has been given the chance to make a late claim for a place at the tournament and Ravi Bopara has the opportunity to revive his one-day career after both were named in England’s 16-man squad for the tour of Sri Lanka which starts in November.

Despite England’s poor one-day record since reaching the final of the Champions Trophy – they have won just one bilateral series, against West Indies, and Cook was not captain on that occasion – he has the chance to play his first World Cup although the suggestion was that it was not a completely straightforward decision.

“We debated all the positions in the team and Alastair’s was no different, but we are 100% committed behind Alastair Cook to captain not only in Sri Lanka but also the World Cup,” James Whitaker, the national selector, said. “He’s had his ups and downs the summer but he shown immense dignity and fortitude and we are 100% behind him.”

England squads

  • Sri Lanka tour Alastair Cook (capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes
  • Performance programme – batting and spin (SL) Zafar Ansari, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Stephen Parry, Samit Patel, Adil Rashid, Adam Riley, Jason Roy, James Vince, Tom Westley
  • Performance programme – fast bowlers (South Africa) Jack Brooks, Matthew Dunn, Mark Footitt, Craig Overton, Liam Plunkett, Boyd Rankin, Mark Wood

james taylor James Taylor

Neither Taylor or Bopara featured in the recent series against India – which England lost 3-1 – with the latter being a particularly surprising omission having been a regular part of the ODI set-up for a year. But England’s gameplan against India, to load the side with specialist quicks, did not prove a success and they have reverted to having Bopara as an all-round option who can provide nagging medium pace and power with the bat in the middle order, although quite where he fits into the side remains unclear.

However, Bopara’s place in this squad is unlikely to mean he now has a free pass to the World Cup. The squad for that tournament can only be 15 names and there will also be the presence of the Performance Squad batsmen – which includes Jason Roy and James Vince – who will shadow the main party for a period in Sri Lanka. There is also the challenge of balancing the requirements of continued planning for the World Cup and picking a side to win in Sri Lanka where conditions will be very different.

Peter Moores and the selectors will want Bopara to improve on his 2014 returns, which stand at 237 runs at 23.70 and seven wickets at 41.57 from 14 matches, although his economy rate of 5.18 is handy for a fifth bowler. Taylor, meanwhile, has played just two ODIs to date, both against Ireland, but his form in the Royal London Cup – where he scored 444 runs at 88.00 with three hundreds – made a very persuasive case.

The most notable omission from the squad is Gary Ballance, the Yorkshire batsman, who was part of the group against India but only played one match. He has paid the price of there being a log-jam of batsmen trying to secure top-three places following the retention of Ian Bell and confirmation that Alastair Cook will remain captain.

“With the World Cup less than five months away, we are very aware that our one-day cricket needs to develop quickly if we are to arrive at the competition ready to compete with the very best sides in the world,” Whitaker said. “This tour to Sri Lanka allows the players and management to focus fully on improving skills in limited-overs cricket ahead of final selection for the World Cup. While conditions in Australia and New Zealand will differ to those the squad experiences in Sri Lanka, we can still make significant strides forward as a side during the series.

“Congratulations to James Taylor who has been rewarded for his outstanding form for Nottinghamshire this season and fully deserves another opportunity in the international arena. While Gary Ballance will I’m sure be disappointed to miss out on this tour he knows he remains a very important part of our plans.”

Stuart Broad misses the Sri Lanka tour following his knee surgery earlier this month but, fitness permitting, he is certain to feature at the World Cup so one of the pace bowlers in this squad is likely to be fighting to retain his place. That battle may come between the three allrounders – Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan – with Jordan’s inconsistency with the white ball perhaps making him the most under pressure. He played just one match against India, conceding 73 off his 10 overs in Cardiff.

The selectors also named a Performance Programme squad which has been split into two groups. The batsmen and spinners will make a trip to Sri Lanka while the fast bowlers will travel to Potchefstroom in South Africa. Two of the spinners, Adil Rashid and Stephen Parry, will depart with the main squad to Sri Lanka to help with preparations before linking up with the rest of the EPP squad in the country.

Roy, Vince, Jonny Bairstow and Adam Lyth are among the batsmen who will be part of a three-week camp in Sri Lanka along with Samit Patel, Sam Billings and Alex Lees and Essex’s Tom Westley. For some of those players it is not out of the question that they could still force their way into World Cup consideration although the likelihood is that the selectors will not move far outside the names in the main squad.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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TWO Blogs arbitrary choice:

Posted by JG2704 on (September 25, 2014, 22:00 GMT)

@CodandChips – ctd . Maybe 2 pacers would be a bit rad for Australia but could be tried in SC conditions.

The team could read

Lumb , Kies , Ali , Morgan , Patel , Buttler , Bopara , Rashid , Tredwell , Gurney , Finn

You’d have Gurney,Finn and Tredwell bowling 10 each and then 20 being shared between , Bopara , Patel , Ali and Rashid. It would add extra variety to the attack with a leggie there and more depth to the batting

 Posted by JG2704 on (September 25, 2014, 21:53 GMT)

@CodandChips – Don’t have any big issues with your squad. The team I made up from the best performing players (combining ave with SR or ER) was done without bias and looking at it I’d be as happy with it as any side. Hell I’d find arguments for a side I selected. Just a couple of things to think about

1 – The selection of Root. If we look at the ODI stats and compare Root with Patel , Root has a better batting average (by 4.35) , Patel has a better SR (by 13.74) and Patel better all round ODI bowling stats in terms of ave, ER & SR. You’d also be reducing Root’s workload and maybe turning him into a better test player?

2 – Re Tredwell or Rashid – Well you know how I rate Tredwell. For me if you take away our most consistent SF bowler you’re asking for trouble. Just a thought here. India play spin biased attacks in SFs wherever they go. Pakistan often do likewise – I think I saw them play a SF match with just one pacer? What about Rashid for Broad and just rely on 2 pacers?

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