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Giles sees positives in defeat

England limited-overs coach Ashley Giles will temper the disappointment of a series defeat to Australia with the knowledge his World Cup options have increased over the past fortnight.

Giles' experimental England side went down 2-1 in a rain-affected NatWest Series following a 49-run loss at the Ageas Bowl last night.

While Giles acknowledges losing to Australia is never a satisfying experience, he believes a series in which England have further developed their next generation of players has made it worthwhile.

Tall quick Boyd Rankin was the most obvious success story while Ben Stokes' five-wicket haul in the Southampton defeat completed a series of steady improvement for the 22-year-old all-rounder.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler also enjoyed his best series so far - averaging 91 and hitting a match-winning unbeaten 65 in Cardiff - while Chris Jordan chimed in with three wickets on his debut.

"It has been useful," Giles said. "The win in Cardiff was obviously the most pleasing aspect. That win centred around a lot of the young guys having a really good day.

"Someone like Buttler, who is still relatively inexperienced, has moved on again this series.

"We thought at the start of the series that if we could move two guys on a fair distance in terms of creating a larger pool of players in one-day cricket then this series has done a lot of its job.

"In Rankin and Stokes, they have probably done that on their own but there are others too so as a coach that's really pleasing.

"Ultimately, of course, these aren't practice games and we lost 2-1."

Giles will therefore have plenty to ponder when he selects his next 50-over squad away to Australia in the winter.

That series will take on extra importance with the World Cup to be staged at the same venues - as well as co-hosts New Zealand - 12 months later.

"We have learned a lot with these young guys coming in and I think it will be invaluable for them going forward," Giles said.

"We just need to be careful that we aren't pushing them too hard; it still takes time and the experience of playing. But so far, so good on the report card."

England's most pressing concern, however, is selecting a squad for this winter's Ashes with an announcement on that touring party due to be made early next week.

The performances of Rankin and Stokes have elevated them into those calculations and Giles suggested some places were still undecided.

"We haven't picked the squad and I'm sure there are still places up for grabs," he said.

"Certainly, seeing some of these players in the one-day series won't have done them any harm. There's a lot to discuss; there'll be 16 places to pick and it will be tough.

"Generally, the first 12 pick themselves and have done for a while but the squad is important, the guys you take in those supporting roles.

"It's a long series, a lot can happen. We need to have a squad all of whom are capable of playing a part in the series."

Assessing the hopes of Stokes and Rankin, Giles added: "If you look at the attributes both of them have; Boyd is six foot 10 or something, a huge man, and he bowls at a good rate of knots. We tend to like our tall fast bowlers. Going to Australia, playing on those wickets, those attributes are important.

"Ben is someone who has been on the radar for a couple of years and people are starting to talk about him. I think he's a really exciting cricketer and there's a lot more to come from him with bat and ball.

"Already, possibly, he's one of the best fielders in the world - I know that's a big call - he's a terrific athlete so those all-round skills put him in an elite market. When you can do those sorts of things you will be talked about across all forms of the game."

Stokes faces stiff competition if England's selectors do opt to select an all-rounder for the Ashes squad.

Chris Woakes was the preferred option for the final Ashes Test at the Kia Oval while Ravi Bopara's limited-overs form with bat and ball this summer was also eye-catching.

"We've had early discussions, but on any tour it can be useful to have a cricketer of that type because it gives you options," Giles said.

"That isn't to say one will be or won't be. It will be a good debate, because we've got some very good cricketers.

"Some of them have come into this series and really impressed; I think that's healthy for some of the guys we have rested that we have young players chasing them up."

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