England cricket
England and Alastair Cook crumbled against Sri Lanka. Getty

England's 5-2 series thrashing at the hands of Sri Lanka produced more questions than answers ahead of the 2015 ICC World Cup in February in Australia and New Zealand.

The height of those concerns have inevitably focused on captain Alastair Cook, who admits he will have no complaints if he is dropped from the side after a fourth consecutive series defeat under his leadership. But ahead of the 15-man squad announcement on 7 January and the warm up Tri-series tournament against Australia and India that follows, there is much for England's selectors to ponder.

While England managing director Paul Downton, whose own position has come under scrutiny throughout England's dreadful 2014, has endorsed Cook's continued role, the under-fire skipper will be taking nothing for granted in the coming months.

While he can take solace in Downton's reassuring words, he will be aware that his miserly run rate is threatening to undermine his position. Cook's figures in ODI cricket are simply not good enough, but it is the decision of the selectors that matters. Signals suggest they are happy to avoid the potentially problematic process of appointing a new captain just two months before the World Cup.

In the absence of Stuart Broad and James Anderson, Harry Gurney was given a golden opportunity to force the issue and show the selectors what he is capable of. Unfortunately Gurney, the only specialist left-armer in contention for the World Cup squad, was unable to play above himself, something of a requirement if he was to make the 15. While his bowling was consistent, if unspectacular, that was outweighed by his lack of contribution in the field and with the bat.

The same argument can be made for Ben Stokes. While his raw, natural ability as a cricketer is evident, his propensity to bowl wide in Sri Lanka and a failure to register runs was concerning.

Moeen Ali offers timid positivity after finishing as England's second highest scorer behind Joe Root. The Worcestershire all-rounder dutifully opened in all seven games while collecting 236 runs and striking more sixes than any other player. 2014 has been a fairly dismal year, but Moeen's emergence has consistently offset that misery.

Another to emerge from the series with their reputation enhanced was James Taylor. The 24-year-old batted without fear in Sri Lanka, hitting two half-centuries in a row, the latter of which gave England faint hope of clawing their way back into the series – a brief fight-back also inspired by Chris Woakes' heroic bowling - before the capitulation in the sixth ODI.

Suffice to say, England will not be arriving in Australia as one of the favourites. Weak performances, exemplified in the 5-2 defeat, have seen expectation plummet and the title of underdogs thrust upon them. Given the current weight of their woes, that can only be a good thing.