England will embark on their seven match ODI tour of Sri Lanka this month without their two most experienced bowlers, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, due to injury.
Both players will be a huge loss to the side given their experience, leadership and of course their wicket taking abilities. However, their absence gives a number of tourists an opportunity to impress the England selectors as they bid to cement a place in the final squad for the World Cup starting in February.
Sri Lanka will be a tough tour for any visiting side but particularly for an inexperienced bowling line-up. Slow, low pitches may not be the kind of conditions that they would have ordered but if they can perform in the absence of Anderson and Broad then next stop could be the World Cup opener against Australia.
With James Tredwell and Moeen Ali, supported by Joe Root, providing the spin options in the side it is the fast bowling department where the competition really hots up.
Steven Finn, Harry Gurney, Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes will probably be fighting it out for just two bowling spots, at most, in an England side including a fit Anderson and Broad.
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For me Chris Woakes is in the driving seat given his improved performances, his batting ability and his improved pace. However, Woakes will need to continue his recent improvements in order to remain part of the national side.
Harry Gurney, by virtue of his left-arm variation and ability to bowl at the death in an innings, could be a favourite for the selectors as Australian pitch conditions may require a varied bowling attack rather than a one-dimensional one.
Chris Jordan has shown a lot of promise in the early part of his England career. He can bowl with pace and is a handy batsmen lower down the order. However, can he be relied upon to be accurate on a consistent basis during the pressure of a World Cup? This summer saw Jordan spray the ball around and the memory of this could well work against him unless he can regain his form in Sri Lanka.
Steven Finn had a very good season for Middlesex and will be eager to prove himself at international level. He has toured Australia before and the pace and bounce of the Australian wickets could prove vital in his selection.
England could alternatively decide to go with a number of all-rounders, such as Ravi Bopara and Ben Stokes, which could also limit the bowling opportunities available.
Therefore the Sri Lanka tour is important for all the prospective bowlers. They all have key attributes which will benefit England but they will need to prove their worth on a consistent basis, and impress the selectors, in order to make the starting line-up during the World Cup.
England's ODI tour begins in Colombo on the 26th November.
England ODI squad to tour Sri Lanka: Alastair Cook (Essex, captain), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Ravi Bopara (Essex), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Harry Gurney (Nottinghamshire), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Eoin Morgan (Middlesex), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), James Taylor (Nottinghamshire), James Tredwell (Kent), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire).
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