Gurney keen to make World Cup pitch
Opportunity for knocks for several members of England's ODI squad in Sri Lanka, with plans to be finalised and places to be won ahead of the World Cup. Harry Gurney only made his England debut on a damp day in Aberdeen six months ago but if he can continue to make a good impression over the next few weeks, his left-arm angle of attack could make him a useful option in Australia and New Zealand.
There will be even more chances to impress for England's seamers, with James Anderson and Stuart Broad both absent. Anderson is resting a knee problem and Broad had begun his recovery from surgery on the same joint, so Gurney will form part of an inexperienced attack led by Steven Finn.
"From a personal perspective, my aim here is to try to cement that spot and get on that plane to Australia,'' Gurney said. "I'm very confident. I think I've got a lot to offer. I'm the only left-armer involved here ... and I hope I can offer something a little bit different. So when the selectors sit down to pick that squad, I hope I get my place."
Gurney, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes have just 59 ODI caps between them and all have struggled to match promise with consistency so far. With two members of the squad likely to be replaced by Anderson and Broad for the World Cup - though not necessarily both seamers - all four will want to impress coach Peter Moores and captain Alastair Cook.
"With Jimmy dropping out reasonably late on and not being replaced, it means all of the seamers in the squad are going to get more opportunity and more time in the limelight to show what we've got,'' he said. "We've got some guys who've played a fair bit. Finny has and Woakesy has been around a little while now ... we've got a good group, and we're all putting our heads together and trying to come up with the best tactics.''
"I think we've got a group of bowlers that will adapt ... and allow Mooresy and Cooky to select a well-balanced attack, given the conditions we're presented with."
Gurney's capacity for offering something different has helped elevate him to England's limited-overs set-up, mixing up left-arm seam with a variety of slower balls. For express pace and bounce, England will be looking to Finn, who is still feeling his way back into international cricket after a year out of the side working on his run-up.
"He's looking really good," Gurney said. "He's in fine shape - and any issues he might have had are well behind him now. That's brilliant for English cricket.''
While the conditions in Sri Lanka will differ from those in Australia and New Zealand, it is in England's interests to build confidence and work on their skills in the 50-over format. How successful they are could come down to the weather, as much as the opposition, with evening rainfall a potential problem throughout the duration of the tour - despite reserve days being scheduled for five of the seven matches.
"Being English, we're all used to a bit of rain," Gurney said. "So that doesn't bother anyone really. Turning up and having slightly damp footholds is not something any of us are fazed by.
"Most of the ODIs have reserve days, so I think we'll probably get a conclusion in most of if not all the games. If there are shorter games, it gives us the opportunity to go out there and maybe approach it with a different tactic. You're going to get presented with circumstances like that in World Cups. So why not be prepared for it?"