It is integral to England’s aspirations of progressing to the latter stages of next year’s World Cup that they use the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka to discover their best team.
Alastair Cook’s side have a seven-match ODI series against the Sri Lankans, which will be followed by a triangular series with Australia and India before the World Cup begins next February.
But England must narrow down their squad to the best eleven players they possess as soon as possible in order to get ideal preparation before the tournament begins.
Sri Lanka series
England will look to atone for the 3-2 loss they suffered at the hands of the Sri Lankans when the two sides met on English soil earlier this summer.
They will be provided with another stern assessment from the side currently ranked third in the world in 50-over cricket. But that is the sort of test that England need if they are going to push themselves during next spring’s competition.
The 16-man squad that will travel includes the recalled Ravi Bopara and James Taylor. Both men have been in excellent form in county cricket, which they will look to bring back to the international stage.
It is expected that all players will be given appearances during the series, allowing Cook and Peter Moores the chance to assess them up close and personal.
Poor form with the bat during the summer has opened the door for players to be recalled, and a few decent performances in warm-up fixtures could lead to a starting spot for the side’s opening World Cup game against hosts Australia.
Royal London One-Day Cup
It remains to be seen whether or not the ECB’s decision to bring back 50-over cricket to the county game will have a positive or negative effect on the national team’s performance.
But it can only be a good thing if domestic players are well versed in the identical format that they will find themselves in should they get a call up.
For Taylor and Bopara – who averaged 88 and 40 respectively in the One-Day Cup – performances for their counties have been integral in providing a route back to the national team.
The England team has been in transition in all formats of the game over the past 12 months, but the side needs to settle before entering the 2015 World Cup.
The likes of Harry Gurney, Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes have all started to establish themselves in the England side in recent times, but now it is time for a regular XI to take shape.
A more consistent line-up could provide more consistent performances and results for a side that, at present, look very unlikely to win their maiden World Cup next year.