Rising stars Jos Buttler and Chris Jordan have a twin mission in the Royal London Series decider at Edgbaston, where both can press their Test claims by helping to inspire an England victory.
Buttler and captain Alastair Cook each gave little credence to the concept of a Test debut next week for the wicketkeeper-batsman, in back-to-back interviews after his brilliant maiden international hundred at Lord’s.
Yet two days on, there was significantly more equivocation from coach Peter Moores on the subject of an imminent Lord’s return for Buttler – while the likelihood of Jordan’s name being in the squad announced on Thursday continues to increase.
Before then, of course, both players have very important business to attend to as England seek to make it a 3-2 home win over Sri Lanka to kickstart the Moores-Cook era. The England coach could hardly help but be impressed by Buttler’s 61-ball century as the hosts nonetheless failed to chase 300-9 on Saturday.
It was perhaps more telling, however, that he was not nearly so dismissive as Buttler himself and Cook on the former’s short-term Test prospects.
“It was brilliant. To watch it and be there was great,” said Moores.
“I don’t think you want to be set in stone, and you never want to put ceilings on people. People do have ‘moves’.
“He’s improving, and it was great to see him play like that.
“Certainly how he played the other day hasn’t done him a lot of harm – it was a fantastic innings.”
The fitness of Matt Prior, which he is attempting to demonstrate for Sussex against Nottinghamshire this week, may be the first factor to determine Buttler’s immediate future.
Moores added: “Jos is a rapidly emerging player.
“Matt’s fitness is something we are trying to decide ... we are knowing more on a daily basis.
“If Matt’s fit he’s a very strong contender.
“He’s playing his first game, but was rained out the game before and has done a lot of work building up.
“The medics will have a say on where that Achilles injury is.
“You certainly wouldn’t want to go into a game where you felt that, if you were taking your wicketkeeper in, there was a chance he might not get through it.
“That would be a mistake.”
Cook and Buttler have both insisted he is not ready for Test cricket.
But Moores said: “He is improving quickly, and I thought he kept well (on Saturday) – so he has certainly pushed his name forward.
“When you look back in history not every player is perfectly ready when they play.
“I think Jos would quite rightly say ‘I’m not the finished article’, and he wouldn’t be – not many people are.”
Jordan has won two man-of-the-match awards, to Buttler’s one, in the one-day international series – and is already top of many lists to join a Test attack led by James Anderson and a fit-again Stuart Broad.
“We’ve got a debate to have with the selectors,” said Moores.
“He is another guy who has had a good series.
“He’s bowled well, bowled consistent areas and looks like he really revels in the environment of international cricket.
“That’s great, and it obviously puts him in the frame.”
Another stellar performance from either Jordan or Buttler would not go amiss for England in Birmingham.
As long as England win, however, Moores will not be complaining where the impetus comes from.
“We’d love to win the series – it would be a great reward for a lot of hard work over the past two to three weeks,” he said, adding an acknowledgement that he has updated some of his methods since his first brief stint as England coach ended abruptly five years ago.
“Your enthusiasm to move things on has to be tempered with creating the right environment for players to relax and play – you have to get the balance right.
“Yes, I have changed and I have matured as a coach.”