ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Could this be England’s XI next February?

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Sam Rogers selects a prospective side for next February's tournament in Australia and New Zealand

By Sam Rogers

The ICC Cricket World Cup is only a few months away now and after England’s recent struggles in the fifty over format, the question on most fans and pundits lips is how the team is going to take shape come the start of the event in February.

Now there is still a fair bit of cricket for England to play and for players to find form and fitness to make the trip down under. Here is a potential starting XI line-up for the first match of the World Cup.

Alastair Cook (Opener and captain)

Now, this writer doesn’t necessarily believe Alastair Cook should be in the squad after the recent struggles he has had, and the fact his mind-set and technical game isn’t massively suited to the rigour of the 50-over game. The reason he has featured in my side is because the ECB have made it abundantly clear that Cook is their man and they are backing his leadership credentials to guide England to limited-overs glory, much to the chagrin of former England batsman Kevin Pietersen as well as countless fans up and down the country. Cook will be looking to anchor the innings, perhaps batting throughout the innings, to reach a meandering hundred using more than half of the deliveries in the innings. An archaic and out-dated tactic that would work if, and it is a big if, Cook was able to score runs in this format but he has struggled beyond repair.

Alex Hales (Opener)

His batting partner is a bit of a no-brainer. Yes, he struggled against the Indian bowlers towards the back end of the series but there is simply no doubting the Nottinghamshire blaster’s ability to clear the boundary rope and accelerate through an innings, ending at better than a run a ball and dominating an innings and a bowling attack to boot.

Gary Ballance (Middle-order)

One of England’s finds of the summer, Gary Ballance has been superb and has the temperament to nail the number three role and make it his own. Ballance is a fighter, very much in the mould of Ricky Ponting in his pomp, and has the skills in the locker to move an innings on after a solid start, or indeed steady the ship if one of the openers falls cheaply. The Zimbabwe-born Yorkshireman will be key, just like Jonathon Trott was, to allowing England to establish a foundation on which to build a defendable score.

Joe Root (Middle-order)

Ballance’s Yorkshire team-mate and friend Joe Root is perhaps England’s gleaming beacon of hope for the next decade. He has everything about him to be England’s most prolific run-scorer in all formats but will have to deal with the pressure of expectation. Root showed against the Indians he has the head for 50-over cricket, but struggles slightly against the moving ball with his back-foot dominated technique. He will key for England if they are to keep their heads with difficult chases or set a big total.

Eoin Morgan (Middle-order)

One of England’s ‘finishers’ alongside Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan came through a tough run of form to flourish in the solitary Twenty20 international at Edgbaston. He has the ability to turn a good score into a great one, or has the 360 degree scoring potential to chase down most scores. His technique has come under scrutiny with his unconvential crouch and high back-lift, but Morgan has worked hard in the nets to minimise the effect of his technical flaws.

Jos Buttler (Wicket-keeper)

England’s wicket-keeper, power-hitter and the second of the finishers in the side. Buttler has benefitted from a move to Lancashire, as well as a role in the England Test side, so will be far more comfortable in a format in which he made his name.

Ravi Bopara (All-rounder)

Ravi Bopara has been in and out of the England set-up throughout his career and always seems to be a better player out of the side. His sniping medium-pace seamers and his explosive power hitting makes him a dangerous option for England, and provides a balance to the side with another bowling option. It would be a surprise if he isn’t included in the squad but may not feature at the start of the tournament.

Adil Rashid (Bowling all-rounder)

The one selection where it will take a serious change of direction from the England management but should nonetheless be selected is Adil Rashid. On sheer wicket-taking form this season he leads the charts. He was top wicket-taker in the Royal London One Day Cup and is a real attacking threat with the ball. His sharp turning leg-breaks and ability to clear the rope means lengthens an already strong England batting order. He is down the pecking order in the international fray but would be a dynamic addition to the side.

Stuard Broad (Bowling all-rounder)

England’s Twenty20 captain has been sidelined as he recovers from injury but should be fit for the World Cup. His ability to move the new ball both ways and bowl with genuine pace makes him a certainty for a spot should he prove his fitness.

Harry Gurney (Left-arm fast medium)

The Nottinghamshire fast bowler has featured in the Twenty20 side but hasn’t fared as well in the longer form. He provides a control the England have missed since Graham Onions absence from the side, as well as an additional option with the left-arm angle. He is solid and controlled at the death, which is another element england have sorely missed. His familiarity with Broad will also aid the bowling attack.

Steven Finn (Right-arm fast)

Perhaps the surprise omission will be England’s premier fast bowler James Anderson. In Test cricket there are few better but Anderson has struggled in limited overs cricket, which is why Finn gets the nod from me. He is coming back full of confidence and bowls serious heat. His superior height will also fare well on the bouncy Australian decks but will have to be strong mentally when he returns to the scene of one of the lowest points in his career where he was deemed unselectable on the ill-fated tour of Australia.

Notable mentions

James Taylor of Nottinghamshire should travel as part of the squad based on sheer weight of runs, and his three centuries in the domestic fifty over cup. Jonathon Trott had a great year for runners-up Warwickshire but may well be seen as part of the old era as England look ot move on. We have already touched on Anderson but Chris Woakes will likely travel, as will James Tredwell from Kent.

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