George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
It tells you everything you need to know about the state of England's limited-overs cricket that they go into the last game of the international summer - a T20 game at that - involved in an increasingly desperate search to find the elusive ingredients of a successful 50-over side.
It is not the situation they had envisaged. England's domestic 50-over season has one game remaining. Their ODI season has just finished. Not long ago, they played back-to-back Ashes series in order to allow extra time to focus on the forthcoming World Cup. We are coming towards the end of the four-year cycle between World Cups, yet with the tournament now looming ominously in front of them, England's ODI captain, Alastair Cook, admitted earlier this week that success in Australasia must be considered "far-fetched".
They still have little idea of their best XI. So, at a time when they should be fine-tuning plans and defining roles, they go into this match recalling those who have recently been jettisoned, such as Ravi Bopara, and granting debuts to others - Jason Roy is likely to open the batting. It might not quite be described as chaos, but it would be hard to claim it represents the culmination of years of planning.
As it is, this match constitutes a last opportunity for players to make a case for inclusion in the squad to play ODIs in Sri Lanka in November and December. And that squad, you would think even in the unpredictable world of England cricket, would be very similar (injury to Stuart Broad will rule him out, for example) to that chosen to depart for the tri-series event in Australia and the World Cup a couple of weeks or so later.
In one respect, the scheduling of this game is absurd. With England involved in no T20s since May and with no more scheduled until next May, this fixture sticks out as an aberration in the calendar.
But it has also attracted a sell-out crowd of 25,000 - an increasingly rare phenomenon outside London and a reminder of the virtues of multi-cultural Birmingham as a venue for international cricket - and it will satisfy the broadcasters for another day. And that, in the end, is what England cricket is all about: not excellence; not success but another opportunity to squeeze a few more pounds out of the business. Whatever the short-term benefits - and they are almost entirely financial - the long-term consequences will be disastrous.
If that sounds like hyperbole consider this piece of planning. England start their final Test of the series against West Indies in Barbados on May 1. They are, therefore, scheduled to land at Gatwick at just after 5am on May 7. And play an ODI in Ireland on May 8.
If England field a second-string side they risk patronising Ireland or, and this will worry them far more, antagonising the broadcasters. But there is no way they can ask any of their Test squad - or the support staff - to undertake such a journey.
Many of them will already be exhausted. Those involved in the World Cup squad will have left the UK in the first week of January (they return from Sri Lanka on about December 19) to prepare for the tri-series ODI tournament that precedes the World Cup in Australia. If they reach the final of the World Cup - admittedly an unlikely scenario - they will spend about 36 hours in the UK between the first week of January and the second week of May.
Not only is this schedule counterproductive - there is no way players can be at their best or spectators can retain interest for that amount of time - but you could make a strong case to suggest it is immoral. It is no coincidence that some of the finest players of recent years - the likes of Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott - have been forced off the treadmill prematurely due to injuries, be they physical or mental. The ECB really need to reflect on their duty of care towards their employees.
Continuing the "jaded" theme, by the time this match starts, three games will have been played on this Edgbaston pitch in the previous week. The first will have been the ODI against India, the second Warwickshire's semi-final against Kent and the third the women's T20I between England and South Africa that takes place immediately before the men's game. Everywhere you look, too much is being asked of the people and the resources.
For that reason, England are likely to play both spinners, Moeen Ali and James Tredwell, in their side. While there is a strong case to take a look at James Taylor - who has scored three centuries in the Royal London One-Day Cup this season - it is hard to find a place for him in the team, with Jason Roy perhaps the one new face on show and Joe Root having made a strong case for inclusion in all formats. It is asking a great deal of Roy to impress in a one-off T20 match.
With two spinners included, England may well opt to play Chris Woakes and Bopara as their seam-bowling allrounders, meaning there is no place for Chris Jordan.
While few will recall the outcome of this game by the time the World Cup final takes place in Melbourne, it remains just about possible that, for the likes of Roy or Taylor, it could be the start of a journey that ends in a World Cup final. England will certainly hope so, though whether they should be trusting to "hope" at this stage is debatable.