Top of one-day rankings is England's latest aim

Selectors hope to see faith in Ben Stokes, 20, rewarded over coming series

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The Independent Online

With Test glory in the bag, England begin their quest this week to become the top ranked one-day side in the world. Looking at the ICC table as it stands, this seems a fanciful notion.

England are fifth in the ratings at present, on 107 points, 23 behind Australia, who remain, somewhat remarkably, in first place. The summit seems a distant, alien place where a different form of limited overs cricket is played. But the journey, England will now know, is possible to make.

Barely two years ago fifth was where they stood in the Test table. The statistical way forward was plotted during a camp at Loughborough by their team analyst. All the necessary bits fell into place, most tellingly at The Oval last Monday where England completed their4-0 rout of India with an excellent victory by an innings and eight runs.

True, England needed other teams to lose at various times but the chief requirement was that they kept winning. So it will be in their determination to take their one-day cricketto a new place.

They start on Saturday in Durham with the first of 10 one-day matches against the World Cup holders, India: five at home in the next fortnight, five away in October. There are also three Twenty20 matches between the two (a form of the game in which, it may be remembered, England are world champions), one in Manchester on Wednesday, two during their autumn dash round the sub-continent.

In the improbable – oh, all right, incredible – scenario, that England win all 10 they would shoot up the table, possibly as high as third place. If Australia were to lose a lot in their forthcoming matches against South Africa the gap would be seriously narrowed.

With five matches between Australia and England next summer there is an extremely outside chance that England could reach the summit by then. No doubt, England's crack performance analyst, Nathan Leamon, will inform them of this.

Much more likely is that England will make barely a dent on the lead. They are certainly capable of beating a dispirited India at home as they did in 2004 and 2007, though winning all five would be a stretch. Winning in India is something they have not done over a series since 1985, though the sides played some scintillating cricket in the World Cup in February in a game that finished as a tie. It would be much easier to be optimistic if England were sure of the balance of their team. Alastair Cook, their captain, has already shown his critics a thing or two by a series of blistering displays against Sri Lanka early in the summer and the selectors seem to think that the wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter is the answeras the other opener.

If they are right on this, and they may not be, there is still the potential for muddle further down the order. Jonathan Trott divides opinion and an acceptable strike rate of 77 – higher than Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara – will not change that. Somehow, Bell would look more authentic at number three. He was a fish out of water at number six against Sri Lanka. The most exciting selection, of course, is Durham's 20-year-old Ben Stokes whom the selectors have understandably identified as the chosen one, so to speak, in many ways. A severely dislocated finger has left him short of cricket this summer but during the next fortnight he will be given a chance. His selection presumably spells the end for his county colleague, Paul Collingwood, who is now 35.

There are others who England may have to promote before (and after) they fulfil their quest, not as eye-catching as some but with enough talent to suggest they may receive the call sooner not later.

England ODI squad Alastair Cook (capt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Craig Kieswetter, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Ben Stokes, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott.

Twenty20 squad Broad (capt), Bopara, Bresnan, Jos Buttler, Dernbach, Finn, Alex Hales, Kieswetter, Morgan, Patel, Kevin Pietersen, Stokes, Swann.

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