England have a good mix of young and experienced players. Alex Hales (left), Jos Buttler (bottom right) and Gary Ballance will be among the few players whose performances will be keenly observed ahead of the World Cup next year © Getty Images
A rejuvenated England came back guns blazing to race to a thumping 3-1 Test series win against India. High on confidence, England will try to shift their momentum to the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) as well. R Vishal analyses the team for the five-match series.
With the countdown ticking to the ICC World Cup 2015 in Australasia, every major team in the world is trying to find their best XI going into the tournament. Having been culprits of showing a stiff upper lip to One-Day Internationals (ODI) in the past, England now breed specialists for the shorter versions of the game. The results in the recent past though, have not looked good.
The year 2014 has been nothing short of tumultuous. After their astonishing collapse in Ashes 2013-14, where they were whipped 0-5, the ODIs weren’t any better either. They were yet again outsmarted by Australia, with the five match series ending 1-4 and lost to Sri Lanka 2-3 at home. Alastair Cook was in the forefront of all these losses and took every blow before galvanising his team to a cracking recovery in the recently concluded Test series. How do England match up here.
Alex Hales — a strokemaking gem for England: Despite holding the No 1 spot in Twenty 20 Internationals (T20Is), Alex Hales was still not considered to be good enough to a part of the England ODI squad for the longest time. A crisp, clean striker of the ball and a batting style tailor-made for the shorter formats, Hales is England’s beacon of hope in the shorter formats. Cook and Ian Bell opening the innings shows a bit of an imbalance at the top and subsequently, the middle order. While Bell is a free-flowing strokemaker, Cook grafts his runs — at a languid pace sometimes. The inclusion of Hales promises to give England those quick early runs which has become the life and blood of white ball cricket. Playing against a bowling attack short on inspiration, a chance opens up for Hales to capitalise on it while he makes his first steps in ODI cricket.
Young Brigade: With the aforementioned World Cup barely six months away, this is the perfect chance for the new generation of cricketers to cement their places. Doing it against the world champions is sure to make a stronger case for the player. Gary Ballance, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes along with Hales have shown the makings of being the nucleus of taking the side forward. It remains to be seen how the team management handles the all-rounder situation, given Chris Woakes’ justifying his place in the team in the Tests with strong performances.
Ins and Outs: The most notable exclusion was of Ravi Bopara and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) deserve credit for taking this step. Slotted in as a finisher, Bopara, more often than not has been guilty of failing his team in a run-chase. The likes of Buttler, Stokes or even Chris Jordan offer a lot more in the role of a specialist finisher. Steven Finn makes a comeback and this will be a big series for him to regain that initial promise he showed. left-armer Harry Gurney gets another chance to prove his worth. However, the selectors might have missed a trick in giving spinner Simon Kerrigan a chance given his recent display in domestic cricket.
Alastair Cook (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Jos Buttler (wk), Steven Finn, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes.
Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014
(R Vishal is a journalist and alumnus of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)