NatWest Series 2013: England Takeaways Ahead of Ashes Tour
England's one-day series with Australia is over and attention turns to future challenges, with the winter tour for the return Ashes contest the first and biggest priority.
Touring places were up for grabs ahead of the recent ODIs and, while the weather has limited the amount of cricket played, England selectors are in a more knowledgeable position than they were a fortnight ago.
A degree of uncertainty exists about basing decisions on such a small sample size of matches but, combined with prior knowledge of the players concerned, it should be enough to make calculated judgement calls.
Jos Buttler Must Play ODIs in Australia
Somerset batsman Jos Buttler has much to learn in international cricket, but with two half-centuries in his first two innings in the series he showed he has the talent to be an important player at this level.
While he is nowhere near ready for a Test call, with a batting average of 32 at first-class level, per ESPNCricinfo, he should continue to be given a chance to cement his place in England's ODI plans ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
Morgan: "A lot of positives today; Michael Carberry's innings and Jos Buttler's world class knock. He (Stokes) also took responsibility."— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) September 14, 2013
His average in ODI games was not good coming into the series, but Buttler has now shown he is capable of big scores against quality opposition.
He must continue to work on his batting in the coming months, but he has shown he is an excellent wicketkeeper with some fine catches over the course of the series.
Eoin Morgan Would Be a Good Pick for Test Series
A pre-series century against Ireland was quickly followed by two impressive 50s against Australia, as stand-in captain Eoin Morgan set about proving himself worthy of inclusion for the winter tour.
England will need back-up batting options and Morgan, who has 16 Test caps, will have moved to the top of the list for tour selection with his composed showings at ODI level.
It is easy to question his Test batting average of 30, per ESPNCricinfo, but difficult to deny he is talented enough to improve upon those statistics. He is also bang in form ahead of the series.
Morgan would have been only an outside bet a fortnight ago, but he has ensured the selectors will think long and hard about his inclusion thanks to some excellent batting displays.
Boyd Rankin Deserves a Chance in Test Cricket
Another player who has put himself in contention for the Test squad is Morgan's fellow Irishman Boyd Rankin, who has consistently troubled Australia throughout the series.
Coming in off the back of a haul of 4/46 against Ireland on his England ODI debut, Rankin quickly doubled that tally in his next two opportunities at an average of 20, per ECB.
Will Boyd Rankin make England's Ashes squad?
An excellent record at first-class level, where he averages 27 with the ball per ESPNCricinfo, suggests he will have little problem repeating his performances in the longer form of the game.
Rankin has consistently outperformed Steven Finn in their recent outings together and is a reliable bowler in terms of line and length—key in the hard slog that can be bowling in Australia.
Per the Scotsman, former England captain Andrew Strauss endorsed Rankin this week, saying: "He looks like he’s matured a lot as a bowler. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s an excellent candidate to make use of the conditions in Australia.”
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