England's selectors are set to name their preliminary World Cup squad on Wednesday, and while the majority of their squad picks itself - including all the frontline batsmen plus Alex Hales, the designated understudy - there will be several bowlers sweating on their places. ESPNcricinfo runs the rule over the margins
David Willey v Tom Curran
Which do England value most? The starter, David Willey, or the finisher, Tom Curran? Neither is often called upon to bowl a full quota of overs in ODI cricket (Willey has done so twice in his last 25 ODIs dating back to June 2016, Curran three times in 13 matches all told). And both were peripheral figures in 2018, thanks to back and side injuries respectively. But, when Willey got his chance in the T20Is in the Caribbean last month, he seized it with four wickets in his first 15 balls to seal a 3-0 series win. His left-arm line, allied to reliable new-ball swing, offers something different that no-one else in World Cup contention can offer. Curran, by contrast, would be a very handy bowler to call upon in the clutch moment of a run-chase, but others higher in the pecking order perhaps offer more at other moments of the game.
Liam Dawson v Joe Denly
It's the age-old battle between solid, reliable, unglamorous fingerspin and box-of-tricks wristies with the potential to serve up wonder-balls and full-bungers in equal measure. But when it comes to the role of spare-part spinner in a World Cup squad, there's no real need to get funky with the thinking. Liam Dawson was the man in possession in Sri Lanka before Christmas until a side strain offered Joe Denly his chance to make a mark. And though he has played just three ODIs in as many years (and bowled in only two of those) Dawson's left-armers offer a degree of off-the-peg serviceability that James Tredwell used to offer in years gone by - and though less recognised for his batting than Denly, he offers plenty in terms of late-innings oomph too.
Jofra Archer v Liam Plunkett
Jofra Archer will surely be named in England's 15-man squad on Wednesday - for the simple reason that it will be easier to offer caveats about his 50-over effectiveness now ("Only 14 List A games to date … final decision to be taken after ODIs v Ireland and Pakistan in May … etc") than it would be to shoehorn him in on the eve of the tournament at the expense of a player with a proven 50-over track record ... such as his fellow Sussex allrounder, Chris Jordan, whose late sprint for selection would appear to have come too late.
But talking of proven players, Liam Plunkett will surely be named in that same 15 too, because England value loyalty, and few players have earned more loyalty points than the hit-the-deck hero with 77 wickets in 49 ODIs since the 2015 World Cup, more than any other England seamer. That said, Plunkett's form is a worry. His first outing of the season for Surrey was rusty, and he will need an awkward combination of rhythm and freshness by May 30 if he is to be the bowler that England have valued so highly for the past few summers.
Winner: Both, for now