sport

Moores has problems to solve

Peter Moores knows he has issues to resolve in the development of his England ODI team, irrespective of the result against Sri Lanka.

England have the chance on Wednesday to mark Moores' return as head coach with a series success at his first attempt, against Sri Lanka.

He has seen enough, however, in two wins and two defeats from the four ODIs already at the start of his second tenure that there are both encouraging signs and conundrums to solve in time for next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Close to the top of the agenda is the natural tempo of a top four comprising captain Alastair Cook, his opening partner Ian Bell and then the Yorkshire pair of Gary Ballance and Joe Root.

It was only because of Jos Buttler's brilliant maiden international century from number seven that England got anywhere near making a match of it in their defeat at Lord's on Saturday, after they stumbled to 10 for two in pursuit of 300 for nine and then rebuilt in a painstaking stand between Ballance and Root.

Asked about the long-term effectiveness of England's current top order in 50-over cricket, Moores said: "It's a hot debate.

"Bell and Cook are very experienced opening partnership and have done well in powerplay.

"One of the challenges that hasn't changed is how we come out of powerplay."

One option might be to extend Alex Hales' portfolio from Twenty20s to ODIs.

"We're fortunate there is a domestic 50-over competition this year, in which we can have a look at the players like Alex Hales," added Moores.

"Then we have to identify what is our best team for the back end of the summer, the winter and then that World Cup.

"I think our top four haven't quite got it right.

"You want someone to go on and score big at a decent rate."

Moores identified significant mitigation for Root and Ballance.

"At 10 for two, it was tough - so ... they had to rebuild," he said.

"I give them quite a lot of credit, because it's easy to take the sanctuary of the dressing-room and try to whack a few.

"They did the right thing, to rebuild and keep wickets in hand.

"(But) looking back, we could done with pushing things a little bit more.

"An unbelievable innings by Jos and a great partnership with Ravi (Bopara) got us very close, so we can take something from that.

"But we also look at areas that we can tweak and get better."

Among those is whether they will need a fifth frontline bowler down under or can get away with a combination of Bopara and Root.

"We've got some decisions to make over time," added Moores.

"One is to make sure we've got enough depth in the bowling.

"It's a balance, because sometimes you don't want too much bowling - you don't want to take the responsibility away from those guys who've got to be able to front up and deliver, and know it's their role.

"Against strong sides, you need five strong bowlers as well as decent depth and ability to strike up front.

"They're the things you're going to need to win that World Cup."