Cricket Expert & Columnist
England: Selectors must decide now whether Joe Root and Gary Ballance are world class
But Alastair Cook's side can edge Sri Lanka in ODI showdown at Edgbaston
Last Updated: 02/06/14 1:33pm
There have been some excellent performances from both sides as well as some indifferent ones so it is a huge call as to who will win in Birmingham - but I am just leaning towards England.
Their pace attack has been very good in this series - James Anderson has been dangerous, while Chris Jordan and Harry Gurney have impressed - and I also think spinner James Tredwell is bowling a lot better than he was last year.
I haven't seen the Edgbaston pitch recently but it can turn when it gets dry so that could favour Sri Lanka's spinners, Ajantha Mendis and Sachithra Senanayake, who have caused England problems so far.
Plus, you know that on any given day, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene can turn it on - Sangakkara showed that on Saturday when, on the back of some not-so-glittering form, he scored a masterful hundred.
Sri Lanka are also used to winning, with victories in the Asia Cup and the ICC World T20 within the last four months, so they have a lot of confidence in all forms of one-day cricket - but if we get typical English conditions on Tuesday, I think England will do it.
That said, I think the decision makers need to have a serious look at the batting line-up, as we need to focus not just on beating Sri Lanka on Tuesday but on the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
That big event is just eight months away and the selectors must be certain that Joe Root and Gary Ballance will become world class in that time frame, and that having them at three and four respectively will give them the best chance of winning the tournament.
They could be the men to entrust with those spots and I'm not going to write off their chances because they are two very, very good players - Ballance, in particular, has developed enormously over the last few months.
But if the selectors are not sure then they need to make a change quickly and not let things meander for 10 games or so because time is of the essence.
We could have Michael Carberry or Alex Hales opening with Alastair Cook and then have two bona fide world-class performers at three and four by pushing Ian Bell down and moving Eoin Morgan up from five.
Whatever England decide, though, they need to be certain they have top-drawer players at three and four, because they won't win the World Cup without that.
We look like we have a world-class performer at seven in Jos Buttler, a man who doesn't seem too bothered about expectation or pressure and just plays the situation with an excellent temperament.
His century on Saturday was one of the best innings you will see and he has an expansive range of shots.
But one of the biggest compliments I can pay him is that sides don't seem to have worked out how to bowl to him, and after playing 32 ODIs that is some going.
Buttler looked to attack Lasith Malinga at Lord's - understandably with England in such a perilous position - so it will be interesting to see how they treat him at Edgbaston.
England will know what a challenge Malinga poses but, at the same time, realise they cannot leave it too late to ramp up the scoring rate, though they have played him pretty well in the series.
Besides, Sri Lanka are far from a one-man bowling attack, with Nuwan Kulasekara very economical at times and the spinners always capable of a bit of magic.
Let's just hope they don't provide it on Tuesday!