The announcement of England's 14-man ICC Champions Trophy squad today at 11am could not have come at a better time for the selectors. With the Test side in irresistible form and another series all but wrapped up, it would be easy for them to sit back and think that everything within the boundary of English cricket is under control.
But picking a squad capable of winning the September tournament will make the selectors realise their work is only half done. During the recent NatWest Series the one-day side looked some distance away from being competitive. Except for the outstanding Andrew Strauss and Andrew Flintoff, the batting was reckless, the fielding unathletic and the bowling uninspired.
There would be a temptation to bring in fresh young faces but finding potential match-winners in this form of the game is far from easy. Such a move would only increase the risk of being knocked out of another competition on home soil early on.
Ian Bell's one-day form for Warwickshire is nowhere near as impressive as in the Championship but his agility in the field and his ability to bowl medium pace should gain him selection ahead of Robert Key. With the England coach, Duncan Fletcher, wanting the one-day side to be as close as possible to the Test team the rest of the batting should be the same.
Flintoff's bowling helps the balance of the side and allows England to be more imaginative with their bowlers. Sajid Mahmood has lost form and could be replaced by Simon Jones or Jon Lewis of Gloucestershire.
Replacing Craig White has been a huge problem. Anthony McGrath, Ian Blackwell and Rikki Clarke have all been given their chance to claim the second all-rounder's role. It could be Alex Wharf's turn following his outstanding form for Glamorgan.
With each ground hosting at least five games and the tournament taking place in September, most pitches will be used more than once. This will encourage England to pick a second spinner, probably Gareth Batty.
Three NatWest Challenge matches against India at the start of September will help prepare for the tournament.
Possible England squad: M P Vaughan (capt), J M Anderson, G J Batty, I R Bell, P D Collingwood, A Flintoff, A F Giles, D Gough, S J Harmison, G O Jones (wkt), J Lewis, A J Strauss, M E Trescothick, A G Wharf.Reuse content