Sri Lanka vs England: Harry Gurney confident in inexperienced fast bowlers

Broad and Anderson both missing for the series

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The Independent Online

Harry Gurney is confident England's pace attack will be unhindered by inexperience, or Sri Lanka's monsoons, as they begin World Cup preparations in earnest.

In the absence of injured frontline pair Stuart Broad and James Anderson, there is a callow look to England's seam contingent for the seven-match series due to get under way next week.

Twenty-eight-year-old Gurney begs to differ, but the numbers to support his theory are lacking.

The left-armer has seven of the 69 one-day international caps belonging to four of the players chosen to bowl at pace, alongside Steven Finn.

Finn has 42 under his belt and is therefore cast as the linchpin - a mantle which cannot sit easy at this stage for a bowler of great potential in all formats but whose mid-career blip was so severe only 10 months ago that then coach Ashley Giles described him as 'unpickable' before he was sent home from Australia.

Finn has restated his case of late, and in the practice sessions England have so far been able to fit in between the storms here, Gurney for one is impressed.

He has little doubt England will beat the weather, even though a pattern of evening downpours casts a cloud in particular over the four day-night fixtures, and he believes he and his fellow seamers will rise to the challenge too.

"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 [Chris Woakes] 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."

Gurney believes captain Alastair Cook and coach Peter Moores have all the right men in harness.

"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," added Gurney.

As for Finn's well-being, Gurney said: "He's looking really good. He's in fine shape - and any issues he might have had are well behind him now.

"That's brilliant for English cricket."

Gurney does not deny there may be a learning curve for some others, but points out it is nothing new to have regulars missing.

He said: "Yes ... but quite often during the summer, when you get these ODI series come round and those kind of guys have had a heavy workload in the Test arena, they're often rested.

"So it's not something we're not used to - not having them both around.

"Come the World Cup, I think they both will be."

England will be working on that premise too, as Broad and Anderson recover from their respective knee problems.

Gurney therefore may find himself battling with Finn and Woakes for two remaining available pace-bowling slots at the World Cup.

"From a personal perspective, my aim here is to try to cement that spot and get on that plane to Australia," he 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."

In an era of no hiding places in ODI cricket, Gurney may have to rely on his left-arm variation as a clincher ahead of others more likely to make telling contributions too with the bat or in the field.

Even so, he will be doing all he can in practice to try to make sure he lets no one down in the overs when he is not bowling.

With a strictly single-figure average in 175 professional matches to date, the number 11 spot is indisputably his - and he is unlikely to be placed yet in England's most hectic fielding positions either.

But he said: "As a number 11, you might get a chance to go in and win a World Cup final.

"So you've always got to be working on that batting.

"Obviously your main focus is going to be your main skill.

"But I'm constantly working (as well) every day on my fielding, as is everyone.

"The more runs you can save and the higher percentage of catches you can take, the better.

"It's a percentage game. If you can deliver all those skills consistently ... you're going to be on the winning side more often than not."

PA

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