A computerised rankings system has gone where the selectors have been reluctant to tread, by offering Kent's troubled allrounder, Matt Coles, an opportunity to make his case for England's one-day squad when the inaugural North v South series takes place in the UAE next March.
Coles, who was left out of Kent's County Championship fixture against Derbyshire in June following a drink-related incident, was suspended by the ECB for two further Championship matches after being found guilty of throwing the ball in a dangerous manner during their victory against Glamorgan in May. In 2013, Coles was also sent home from an England Lions tour of Australia due to excessive drinking (the same punishment also handed to Ben Stokes).
However, his recent one-day form has been impressive. He claimed figures of 6 for 56 against Hampshire, his former county, last week, and 4 for 39, with an economy rate of 4.33, against Sussex yesterday, to finish third in the Professional Cricketers' Association MVP Rankings for the Royal London Cup, the system by which eight of the squad members for the North v South series have been selected.
Tim Bresnan, Harry Gurney and Liam Dawson are three previously capped England players to have made the MVP cut, with the England Lions batsman Ben Duckett, the Northamptonshire left-arm spinner Graeme White, and the Somerset pair of Lewis Gregory and Tim Groenewald also in the mix.
Duckett has been in prolific form of late, both for Northamptonshire and the Lions, making unbeaten scores of 163 and 220 in the recent triangular series with Sri Lanka A and Pakistan A although it is purely his Royal London Cup form that has earned this selection.
"I had been following the MVP for the last few games when I realised I was in the mix and it put a bit more on the games we had left," said Groenewald, who was born and raised in South Africa but who has lived in England for 12 years. "I'm really happy to be involved in something like this particularly with it being the first one and it should be a really good tournament.
The PCA and the ECB's National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough have worked closely to enhance the PCA MVP formula, which was first introduced in 2007.
The rankings system identifies the match-winners and key influencers of matches, using a formula that measures each player's total contribution by taking into account conditions, quality of opposition, captaincy and strike rates, as well as runs scored and wickets taken.
The remaining players in the North v South series will be chosen by the England selectors, who will have not only the 2019 World Cup in their thoughts, but also the 2017 Champions Trophy, which will be hosted in England in June, three months after the UAE series.
"It's brilliant how the system has worked giving an incentive from guys outside the England set-up to work for," said Groenewald. "I am sure there will be some really good players out there, players who will be playing in the next World Cup so it's brilliant to be involved in this tournament."
"The North v South series is something that there has been a lot of banter about in the dressing room since the start of the competition and as we got close to the end of the group stage I knew that I was there or thereabouts," said Gurney, who made his last international appearance in December 2014.
"It's a good opportunity for someone like me just to remind the selectors that I can still do it and that I believe that I have still got an awful lot to offer the international game. It's up to me now to persuade them that's still the case."