England v Australia, 3rd NatWest ODI, Edgbaston September 10, 2013

Giles takes a long-term view

England's selection policy for this one-day series has split opinion - and defeat at Old Trafford suggested they will struggle to match Australia - with the role of Ben Stokes as a third seamer a key issue

In 18 months, when the World Cup has been won or lost, it seems fairly safe to assume few will remember the result of this NatWest Series.

As a consequence of the expansion of the international calendar, several sides have identified a need to prioritise. The World Cup has become the goal at the end of each four-year cycle in ODI cricket and almost everything that leads to it is little more than a stepping stone.

Even encounters between these two old rivals. Partially in an attempt to exploit the market for such games, England and Australia have played ODI cricket against one another every year since 2001 with the exception of 2008. Sometimes those meetings have come in global events; usually they have not. It is hard to keep something so commonplace special.

England, certainly, see it that way. By resting five senior players and granting opportunities to several new faces, they have demonstrated that this series has been relegated to the category of 'development opportunity.'

An Australian camp looking to shore-up reputations and build some confidence before heading home may interpret it differently. But make no mistake: it is, as England found after winning the CB Series in early 2007 after their drubbing in the Ashes, little consolation.

England's policy may see them concede a few battles. It will smart to lose any games - as it should - but if it helps them win the war, they will feel the pain was worthwhile.

England's aim is to identify the two or three players who will help them improve from Champions Trophy runners-up to winners of the World Cup. It may prove, in the case of injury or retirements, that their 2013 Champions Trophy squad requires more reinforcement but, for now, England are looking for at least one allrounder, an effective third seamer and a big-hitting batsman. If they turn out to be one person, all well and good.

With that in mind, the selection of their squad is not entirely logical. Quite apart from including red ball performers - the likes of Chris Jordan - for a white ball format, they have also included a 32-year-old opener, Michael Carberry, who has little chance of dislodging any of England's top-order regulars.

England have four men - at least - who are happy in the top three. Carberry is a fine player who is unlucky to have waited so long for such an opportunity, but it is unrealistic to expect him to dislodge Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen or Jonathan Trott from the top four. And Joe Root is their natural successor.

Pietersen missed the Champions Trophy and now he is back at the top of the order it may prove that his return creates a tussle for places among Bell, Trott and Root. With Eoin Morgan, Cook and Ravi Bopara all likely to feature in a first-choice top six, there could well be a high-profile omission over the coming months.

But it was not the selection of the squad as much as the selection of the team that was controversial at Old Trafford. By picking a team with Ben Stokes batting at No. 8 and performing the role of third seamer, England left themselves light on bowling options and subsequently conceded 315. Stokes remains, at present, a batting allrounder, and is currently being asked to fulfil a different role in international cricket to the one with which he is familiar in domestic cricket.

However Ashley Giles, England's limited-overs coach, justified the decision and the balance of the side. Admitting that the two Ashes series took priority, he reiterated the desire to use this series to learn more about their most promising players.

"Obviously we want to win the series," Giles said. "We always get upset when we lose. But there are other successes to be had. With an inexperienced bowling attack and someone like Carberry at the top of the order, we've had an opportunity to look at some young players.

"In our strategic objectives right now we've got back to back Ashes. We've got to get through these two Ashes series, we want to win both series, and of course once we get into the new year we move that focus more towards the World Cup. So, at the moment, while it's always frustrating to any coach that you can't have your best side in the middle the reasoning's absolutely spot on. We've got to look after our best players while looking at the next generation coming through."

"If we came through the series and they had some success and they have moved on and improved, it gives us a much greater pools of players to look at with the 2015 World Cup in mind. Experience against this Australia side is hugely valuable for them and for us looking at players.

"A great example would be Ben Stokes, who is playing in our side as a third seamer. His bowling has improved a huge amount over the past 12 months and his one-day record is improving as well. He has the potential to be a genuine all-rounder.

"Him playing in that role - and I think he has already improved game on game - should be a great advantage to us and him. I'm not sure batting at eight and bowling is a role he will play down the line, but the experience of what he is doing right now is going to be hugely valuable.

"Otherwise the balance is what we played in the Champions Trophy when we were very successful. Against New Zealand we played five specialist bowlers and it didn't really work. That's when we brought Ravi back into the side since when he has had a fantastic run in the team so I don't believe we are just fiddling overs.

"But when you have inexperience you are going to have to suffer some pain to get some gain and that's a little bit of what we are looking at. Saying that there is no reason why this team can't win these games of cricket.

There have been suggestions from the likes of former England captain Michael Vaughan that, such is the weakened state of this England team, the ECB should offer refunds to those who have bought tickets for these ODIs. But the argument for rest and rotation is overwhelming and, in the not too distant future, it may well be that it is the likes of Stokes and Jamie Overton that most excite spectators. This series is providing a peak into England's ODI future.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on September 12, 2013, 18:33 GMT

    My issue with this squad and in particular the XI picked for the games so far is not that it's too experimental but that it's not experimental enough. What are England going to learn about Pietersen, Trott and Bopara that they don't know already? Pietersen was complaining about too much cricket- why is he playing at all ahead of the return Ashes?

    Give Jordan and Overton a game (they should have had at least 2 each). Why not pick Ballance (the best young batsman in the country, despite his duck in the Ireland game) and Topley, who took 11-85 in a county game as England were losing the first ODI. Topley's 6' 7", left-arm, not express but rapid enough and moves the ball around. He's also only 19.

    I think England are getting the worst of both worlds here- they're losing the series and they're not finding out enough about the young talent. If they want to win the series, the first XI have shown that they can handle Australia. If they don't care, bring in the youngsters.

  • Kunal on September 12, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    gets into the rut of losing everything falls apart,know it the cup is 18 months away, you dont want that to happen,yes you want the seniors to relax at the same time give a good feedback to the public give some juniors a chance it the squad hope some of them get the desire to be given a permanent place in the team fired, all true but the excellence, the psychology that this is a team of winners not losers that gets a bit overshadowed.So encourage but also maintain the intensity quite a fine balance to maintain not forgetting the cycle of losses is not far ahead.Well no harm in trying good luck to you for that.Anyhow your idea is not far way from that of the aussies of today except the aussies figure there is no A tier or B tier everyone is same and everyone should maintain the intensity of winning.Wat they forget an individual's mind is based on the surroundings bring him away from the battle ground and then take him to the next battle he is sure to take time to grease up

  • Kunal on September 12, 2013, 11:32 GMT

    Admit it, u guys want to keep a second tier team like the Aus team of old,but what you forget is the Aus team of old always hankered on Excellence such that people like Katich,Kasporisz,Mac Gill,and others constantly tried their hardest to come up on the main squad.But if you keep a second tier team the new ones will get the experience but they wont be at the level of the reserve bench of old Aus.There is a pschology matter which will not be removed totally even with the help of a pschologist.The new ones finding it easier to get into the squad will fall back on terms of excellence their desire wetted somewhat the excellence of the full team down a bit,taking into consideration the general squads defeats and their effect on the team psyche ,the assured ones knowing their seats are more or less confirmed , bit realxed which is good but keeping in notion the defeats the team has had a bit overwhelmed at the moment, the overall excellence a bit below par and when the proper team gets int

  • Dummy4 on September 12, 2013, 10:17 GMT

    It seems England are always "rebuilding" when it comes to ODI cricket. Surely there comes a time when they are not rebuilding

  • Dummy4 on September 12, 2013, 0:43 GMT

    I believe that this is just another illustration of how there is far too much cricket being played now. Giles acknowledges that he can't put England's best XI on the park to ensure they don't burn out for the next Ashes sortie in Australia. I think we understand the need to have this forward thinking for future series of great significance and the development of future players. But in terms of player development, isn't this what the 'Country A' sides are for? Help develop the new or give an experienced player some game time to get back into form? Are these 'A' side games effectively going to be 'B' or even 'C'? International Sport in general is about putting your best person/team forward to represent your country. Obviously not what is going on for England this Series. Afterthought, if AU smash England in this series, would that have been the confidence boost that starts the march to victory for them in the WC? Time will tell. I'm watching ZIM v PAK Test far more interesting!

  • Manoj on September 11, 2013, 20:50 GMT

    I think the issue here is not the timing of one day series but the timing of return Ashes tour. Had it not been for the return tour, the senior-pros would have played the one-day series maybe with the exception of Jimmy Anderson. I am a strong proponent of playing one-dayers along with some A games before the test series. This way some players will get to spend more time on the field to prepare for the 5-day games.

  • Dummy4 on September 11, 2013, 17:45 GMT

    Ideally would like to see the ODI's before test series but it could mean that the test series played in Sept when more likely to get bad weather (as this year). The Test series is more important than the money making ODI series. Also with the ODI's there are so many of them that there is another next month not unique like tests.

  • Shanmugam on September 11, 2013, 15:10 GMT

    oh and @humdrum, about losing by "associate level margins", remember the innings and 242 run thrashing at Edgbaston or the Sydney test thrashing when both Clarke and Ponting scored more than India's first innings? wow, India competed fiercely indeed.

  • Dummy4 on September 11, 2013, 14:58 GMT

    Let's be honest here, England are not so interested in this series and nor should they be. I also don't care. The issue here is why play a series like this after such a big test series. Clever programming would have been to turn these games into a 6th test; or to play it before the tests; or of course not to have the return series so soon. In any case, I don't think anyone should be complaining about the fielding of a B team given the bigger picture.

  • siddhartha on September 11, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    really not sure when this England's "Long Term View" will in ODI's. They have not managed to get into last 4 in any world cup since 1992.I don't see them any good in 2015 wc as well.