Top-order batsman Ian Bell has admitted to GiveMeSport that England face a massive challenge leading into the World Cup but they will have given themselves the best shot at success after dedicating a full winter to 50-over cricket.
A veteran of 148 One Day Internationals, Bell has been a key part of his country’s batting line-up for the past 10 years and will no doubt be crucial if England are to challenge for the World Cup which begins on February 14th.
Although Alastair Cook’s men have already been written off by many, the last 50-over world competition brought a degree of success after his side reached the final of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013. India edged the final and it was the Asian outfit that inflicted more misery on England this summer after beating the hosts 3-1 in the five game series.
However, that particular series ended with a 41-run victory for the three lions and there have been plenty of positives over recent times like the emergence of hard-hitting wicketkeeper batsman Jos Buttler while Joe Root has also nailed down a spot after two ODI centuries in 2014.
The next series begins in a matter of days as the 15-man squad departs for Sri Lanka next Sunday where they will play seven matches before Christmas. That tour is then followed by a Triangular Series against Australia and India where England will play at least four games leading into the Valentine’s Day World Cup opener against Australia in Melbourne.
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That means Peter Moores’ troops will have played in at least 16 One Day Internationals since their last Test Match after dedicating six months preparation for the 2015 World Cup, something Bell is absolutely delighted about.
“It’s obviously a big winter of one-day cricket coming up with no Test cricket until the back end (Against West Indies in April). Over the next six months we can really commit ourselves to ODI cricket and give it a really good go,” the 32-year-old told GiveMeSport.
“There are some massive challenges ahead of us but it is great we have an opportunity to prepare in the right way for a World Cup.
“I can’t remember in the 10 years I’ve been playing for England that we will dedicate so much time to one-day cricket. We always dedicate our time to Test cricket and one-day cricket is on the back of that but its great we can dedicate preparation and all our skills into six months of the ODI format and hopefully the end of that we will see some results.”
A familiar looking squad will travel to Sri Lanka after the inclusion of all-rounder Ravi Bopara, just weeks after he was surprisingly left out of the India series. James Taylor will also be competing for a space in the middle-order which will be without Gary Ballance who is not involved in the touring party.
However, James Anderson was forced to pull out of the squad on Tuesday to continue his rehabilitation on a pre-existing left knee injury. At present he will not be replaced so it will give the likes of Harry Gurney and Ben Stokes a chance to open the bowling on the batsman friendly conditions.
Due to the English traditions, a keen emphasis is placed on the importance of Tests which means two consecutive tours of nothing but ODI cricket is something of a rarity. With such an influx of exciting, young players it is clear the team will benefit with the likes of Stokes, Moeen Ali and Chris Jordan playing key roles in white ball cricket in 2014.
The extra experience will stand England in good stead according to the Warwickshire batsman.
“I think we all have to be looking to improve in our careers. Whether you’ve played for England for 10 years or you’ve played one game. You have to have that attitude that you are trying to get better and improve because if that isn’t your mind-set people go past you very quickly,” claimed Bell.
“As a team I know we are extremely hungry to work hard and we know, having played in Australia last winter how we need to bat and how we need to bowl so we have good experiences of how we are going to go about it in Australia.
“We’ve got the triangular series as well which will be great preparation on the same surfaces we will be playing on in the World Cup so rather than us going into an Ashes series then onto a World Cup, all the build-up is focused on hopefully having a good World Cup and I’m confident we’ll be able to do that.”