North v South series announced in bid to boost England's World Cup talent pool

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Football News

England's next batch of World Cup hopefuls will have a new opportunity to state their case by pushing for inclusion in a pre-season regional series to be held in the United Arab Emirates.

The Professional Cricketers' Association's MVP rankings will be used to select five members of each team in the North v South fixtures.

The first three-match series, featuring the top four England-qualified players in any discipline for each region and the highest-ranked spinner, is set to take place next March.

A statistical formula, based on a player's influence on each match in this summer's Royal London Cup, will therefore dictate a possible pathway to the 2019 World Cup for those who prove themselves in this country's elite via the PCA rankings, which have been in existence for the past decade.

The remaining 12 players, six on each team, will be chosen by selectors with their eyes specifically on identifying the right line-up to try to win England's first World Cup when the 50-over tournament is held in this country in three years' time.

Andrew Strauss, the England and Wales Cricket Board's managing director, announced the initiative at Lord's on Monday morning.

He said: "This is a good opportunity for England, domestic players and the game.

"Finding the best players outside the current England set-up, playing them against each other in overseas conditions and placing them in an England environment will help us see if they're ready for international cricket.

"As a player you always like to see how you rank - it gives you recognition and here it comes with the added bonus of getting further into the England reckoning as we look ahead to the World Cup here in 2019.

"For fans, it also gives an added element to the Royal London Cup - putting the spotlight on the players to follow in the 50-over game."

The PCA rankings are designed to spot match-winners by using a formula measuring a player's total contribution - taking into account conditions, quality of opposition, captaincy and strike rates as well as runs scored and wickets taken.

Jason Ratcliffe, the PCA's assistant chief executive, said: "It's great news to work more closely with the ECB.

"Players hugely value the MVP statistics, and many have personal bonus measurements within their contracts based on the standings."

The outstanding MVP performers of recent years include Moeen Ali, David Willey, Luke Wright, James Vince, Jason Roy, Samit Patel and Ravi Bopara - all of whom played for England.

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