England look to future

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Published: Wednesday 18th March 2015 by The News Editor

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England must hope they can start to put their World Cup debacle behind them when they announce their first Test squad of 2015.

But there will still be issues arising from their early departure before the knockout stages of the global tournament when national selector James Whitaker names the 16 or 17 on Wednesday morning to travel next month to the West Indies for three Tests.

In Australia, by the time Whitaker pronounces who will accompany captain Alastair Cook westwards, the identity of the first World Cup semi-finalists will have been confirmed by the outcome between South Africa and Sri Lanka in Sydney.

The scheduled script also dictated Eoin Morgan’s England – not Bangladesh – should still be involved, and preparing to face India in Melbourne on Thursday.

Instead, England must look further ahead as they try to set out their stall for an Ashes year.

It was merely travel logistics for key personnel returning round the world after Friday’s win over Afghanistan, rather than the urgency of World Cup debriefs, that ensured the squad is named 24 hours later than many anticipated.

As things stand, irrespective of whichever meetings have taken place already between coach Peter Moores, incoming chairman Colin Graves et al, it is understood bowling coach David Saker – who is to take charge of Big Bash franchise Melbourne Renegades – is the only person reaching the end of his England and Wales Cricket Board employment.

Other high-profile decisions need to be resolved – starting with the list of names to join Cook on his first return to international colours since he lost the 50-over captaincy to Morgan at the 11th hour, and to no avail, before the World Cup.

In their last attempt, seven months ago, Cook’s Test team completed summer 2014 with a third successive victory over India – by an innings and 244 runs, no less, at The Oval – to wrap up a 3-1 series success.

Depending on Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes’ respective side and foot injuries, there is a chance the full line-up which prevailed against India will travel to the Caribbean.

If a name from The Oval is to miss out, it seems highly likely to be Sam Robson’s at the top of the order alongside Cook.

The bandwagon has gathered pace for the reinstatement of Jonathan Trott, most likely not back in the number three position where Gary Ballance was such a success last summer, but as a contender to open.

Trott will not be short of goodwill if he does return. He had to leave the 2013-14 Ashes after one Test because of a stress-related issue and has since batted his way back for Warwickshire and then as England Lions captain in his native South Africa.

England will also pick an extra opener – either Robson, or on Lions form, Adam Lyth ahead of his younger fellow Yorkshire left-hander Alex Lees.

In the middle order, there will be no place – yet, at any rate – for Kevin Pietersen.

The return or otherwise of the record-breaking batsman is, of course, just another of the conundrums facing England as they try to get their house in order for another seismic year ahead.

Possible England Test squad: AN Cook (captain), GS Ballance, IR Bell, JE Root, MM Ali, JC Buttler (wkt), CR Woakes, CJ Jordan, SCJ Broad, JM Anderson, IJL Trott, JM Bairstow (wkt), BA Stokes, LE Plunkett, JWA Taylor, AU Rashid, A Lyth.

Published: Wednesday 18th March 2015 by The News Editor

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