World Cup dominates Parsons' plans
England’s long-term strategy is heavily focused on their one thus far unachieved goal – winning the World Cup – so much so that the England Performance Programme will be working exclusively on one-day cricket this winter.
While prioritising the retention of their number one Test status and victory in the inaugural Test championship in 2013, England are taking steps to have the best possible team for the the next 50-over showpiece – in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.
Planning for the next World Cup has been a regular theme for England since hosting the first competition in 1975. It is no easy task, as demonstrated by this year’s humbling by co-hosts Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals.
The injuries suffered by Andrew Strauss’ squad – Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad were among those forced to fly home – served as a reminder of the strength in depth potentially required to win one-day cricket’s greatest prize.
To that end, ECB performance director David Parsons is seeking to develop the already burgeoning pool of talent – think Alex Hales, Jonathan Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler in England's Twenty20 side – that team director Andy Flower can call on in the lead-up to and during the next World Cup.
“We have started mapping a three or four year rolling programme closely tied to England’s priorities, which are working towards retaining that number one Test ranking and towards the ICC World Test Championship,” said Parsons.
“To a greater or lesser degree, the players that will be involved are probably in or around the England squad already.
"We’re looking slightly further ahead to the 2015 World Cup, and players who may be able to form part of that squad.
“So we have a heavy one-day focus. All of our training and all of our matchplay this winter will be one-day cricket, and our primary focus will be identifying players who can potentially play for England in that 2015 World Cup.”
The next steps in that process are this winter when the EPP players will be working in England, India, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
“We pick two groups of players – they are roughly between the ages of 19-23,” Parsons explained.
“The first group may be ready to play for England in the next one to three years. They go to India for a training camp, except for the fast bowlers, who go to Pochefstroom. We hope that they will form the bulk of the England Lions squad that go to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka after that.
“Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will provide tough sub-continent conditions, and hopefully when we come back next March or April we will be pretty clear on which players have the potential to go on and be part of that 2015 group.
“In the second group, we’re looking at more of a three-to-five-year period. Their primary programme will be a three-week training camp to Sri Lanka in January, followed by a further period of seven weeks playing club cricket in Sri Lanka.
“The fast bowlers from that group will spend two months at the Performance Centre before Christmas working on a strength and conditioning programme before heading off to Chennai after Christmas for a training camp.”
Most immediately, that means Parsons and his team setting targets for the players involved, whose identity will soon be revealed.
He added: “We sit down for five days at the start of October with all of the players, their county coaches and all of our specialists and try to build a picture of the strengths and the overall make-up of that player, identify what sort of player they could be for England, and also map out what steps need to be taken to enable that player to move towards those goals."