England’s heaviest ODI defeat to Sri Lanka on Tuesday may have put a slight dampener on another excellent series, but for Warwickshire pair Olly Stone and Chris Woakes their World Cup stock continued to rise.
Following a no result in the opening ODI, Eoin Morgan’s side won their next three leaving the final match as a dead rubber and an opportunity to rotate and look at other options, meaning both Bears paceman missed out.
"Olly bowled exactly how he does in the nets and the warm-up game."
Barring injury, Woakes is one of the first names on the England team sheet, finishing his four games with four wickets at an average of 27.
Stone, who joined him as the opening and powerplay partner, bowled 16 overs at an economy of 6.06 with Niroshan Dickwella becoming his first international dismissal in the second ODI.
Wickets were at a premium early in the monsoon conditions, but both bowlers produced controlled displays, especially when asked to bowl the crucial overs at the start and end of the innings. The third ODI in Kandy was also reduced to 21 overs, giving little wriggle room in a crucial match during the series.
"I was impressed," Morgan said after the second ODI.
"Woakesy's been doing that for a while now and a lot of the time goes overlooked but I really thought he set the tone.
"He made quite a relaxing impression early on to allow Olly to do exactly what he does.
“Olly bowled exactly how he does in the nets and the warm-up game, which I think is a really good sign.
“He bowled with pace, he managed to get the ball moving and he did it all with a very calm head on his shoulders."
England made three changes for the fifth ODI, with captain Eoin Morgan rested and seam bowlers Sam Curran, Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett playing for the first time in the series.
And it’ll be the latter two who are pushing Stone for one of those World Cup spots.
“"We knew it wasn't quite the right or our strongest structure in this game - we were a batter short - but it gave us an opportunity to look at some of the pace bowlers,” England head coach Trevor Bayliss told Sky Sports after the fifth ODI in Colombo.
“Getting closer to the World Cup, we have one or two spots in the pace-bowling area that we have to nail down.”
"It's one thing giving guys an opportunity, but what we're looking for is some of those guys to take hold of that opportunity. If they do - they might find themselves in a World Cup squad, and if they don't well they might miss out.
"There are not too many more opportunities before the World Cup squad is picked, so some of the guys will have to turn it around pretty quick."
England, the world number one ODI side, are favourites for the 2019 World Cup on home turf having won their last nine series of two or more matches and winning 41 of their 54 fixtures since June 2016.
There’s 11 more ODIs scheduled for the side before the tournament next year including another winter tour in West Indies post-Christmas which features three tests, five ODIs and three T20s.
England however return to red ball action following a solitary T20 in Colombo which takes place on Saturday.
Joe Root’s side face a Sri Lanka Board President’s XI before heading to Galle (6-10 Nov), Kandy (14-19 Nov) and back to Colombo (23-27 Nov) for three Tests.
Stone and Woakes are both included in the sqaud, but will face plenty of competition for a place in a seamer-heavy squad comprising six quick bowlers and three spinners for a tour to be played on the most spin-friendly wickets in the world.
Stalwart Stuart Broad is included and expected to play a major part, whilst his opening partner James Anderson is rested leaving Sam Curran, Jack Leach, Adil Rashid to vie for the remaining places with the Edgbaston duo.
Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali are also key contributors to England as all-rounders and presumably will play all three Tests.
‘Olly Stone is an exciting talent who bowls with pace and skill,” national selector Ed Smith said when the squad was picked in late September.
“His 37 wickets in the county championship have come at an average of 12.27 and a strike rate of 22.22.”
Woakes, now 29, can rely on a his Test record which has seen 72 dismissals in 26 matches at an average of 32.94.
After returning from injury against India, the bowling all-rounder took eight wickets in two matches showing his fantastic ability to move the ball away with the new ball.
That skill alongside his strong 30.66 batting average, which rose following his maiden century against India at Lord’s this summer, gives the lifelong Bear an excellent opportunity ahead of a busy 2019.
Test squad: Joe Root (Yorkshire) captain, Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Jimmy Anderson (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire) wk, Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Sam Curran (Surrey), Joe Denly (Kent), Keaton Jennings (Lancashire), Jack Leach (Somerset), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)