Going big, Alex Hales is one of England’s power hitters at the top of the order // Credit: sports.ndtv.com
Going big, Alex Hales is one of England’s power hitters at the top of the order // Credit: sports.ndtv.com

It’s been two and a half months, two and a half long months since cricket fans last watched England play. A lot has happened in that time. You may have heard already, but Kevin Pietersen has been leading a one-man destruction path to dismantle the ECB. Nonetheless the wait is almost over, as England begin the next leg of their World Cup preparations with a seven-match tour of Sri Lanka. The squad is due to fly out in early November, ahead of the first warm-up game which starts on November 21st. Here are my top three players to look out for…

Jos Buttler must be given more responsibility. He is accountable for the greatest One-day innings I’ve ever witnessed by an Englishman. That scintillating 121 from 74 balls at Lords was worthy of winning any game, although unfortunately it didn’t that day! Since then, his career has taken off but not quite in the jaw-dropping manner that many would have expected. Not quite in the way that Kevin Pietersen burst on scene over a decade ago. Yes, he has secured his place in the Test-Match team, but I would like to see him take the baton from Pietersen and become the player that opposition bowling attacks come to fear. Take his game to the next level, and fulfil his World-class ability.

Jos Buttler celebrates his maiden One-Day International hundred against Sri Lanka earlier this year // Credit: Cricinfo
Jos Buttler celebrates his maiden One-Day International hundred against Sri Lanka earlier this year // Credit: Cricinfo

A long time coming, James Taylor is back in the England one-day squad. Small in stature, but big in terms of ability. He seems to have shrugged off the ‘not powerful enough’ tag, his Popeye-like frame has enabled him to clear the ropes consistently in the domestic game. Aggressive yet able to construct the big innings, he scored 444 runs at an average of 88 in this season’s Royal London One-Day Cup. The perfect man to bat three or four for England and score at a higher strike-rate than Bell, Balance or Root. He will surely get his chance in Sri Lanka, but he must take it with both hands. The selectors don’t like to stray too far away from their chosen favourites, and players like Bell and Root have been preferred in the past.

International recognition at last,James Taylor has been in fine form for Nottinghamshire this year // Credit: The Telegraph
International recognition at last,James Taylor has been in fine form for Nottinghamshire this year // Credit: The Telegraph

Alex Hales became the player that England could no longer ignore this summer. Following that blistering hundred in the T20 World cup and a pretty dominant season at county level, Hales secured his birth as England’s opener in the slightly longer format. You cannot pass judgement on the infancies of his International career yet, but if he can transfer his skills from the county game then he could be the man England rely on to take advantage of those initial power play overs. Much like David Warner does for Australia or Tillakaratne Dilshan does for Sri Lanka, Hales could be the man to set up the innings for England by getting them off to a flyer.

By Charlie La Foret