Former England coach Ashley Giles has revealed that he was surprised by the national selectors' decision to exclude all-rounder Ravi Bopara from the ODI squad for the upcoming five-match series against India.
During his tenure as coach, Giles often turned to Bopara since he was handy with both the bat and ball. However, the national selectors have opted to go with Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes as their two all-rounders since they possess more pace and a more solid batting foundation.
"I'm a little surprised, and it's quite a late change," Giles told ESPNcricinfo's Match Point show. "He's been a good utility cricketer but it's probably showing England's hand in that they probably need to play four frontline seamers and a spinner.
"Ravi is a bit more bits and pieces with the ball. With the other guys they have in the squad - Stokes, Woakes, Jordan and Moeen Ali - they have four allrounders so can cover a lot of bases."
Bopara himself tweeted that he was gutted to have lost his place in the ODI squad. He tweeted: "Very disappointed to miss out on selection for ODI's but more determined than ever to get back in the side. I will be back!"
Giles also believes that Ian Bell will excel coming in at number three now that Alex Hales is set to make his ODI debut. Hales has been in incredible form as of late and is expected to open the batting with captain Alastair Cook, which is why Bell is being demoted one spot down the order.
England must improve
Speaking about the 2015 World Cup, which will be held in Australia and New Zealand, Giles believes that England will need to regularly post totals of 300 plus if they want to have a chance of winning their maiden World Cup.
"It's a common talking point, the top 10 overs," he said. "I don't think it needs you to go mad, but it does need you to increase the tempo. In Australia you will need 300 regularly to win games, it will be the benchmark to make a fist of the World Cup."
Giles also supported the decision to include pace bowler James Anderson in the squad after a tiring five-Test series against India. Many pundits and former players believe that Anderson should be rested in order to ensure that he does not succumb to a major injury. But, Giles feels that giving Anderson a long rest so close to the World Cup is not feasible.
"They have looked after Jimmy Anderson in one-day cricket in the past but now that the World Cup is coming up it's important he plays," he said. "I'm not sure he'll play every game, but he'll be a key part in Australia with the two new balls."
The first ODI between England and India will get underway on August 25 in Bristol.