Having initially missed the cut, Harry Brook has managed to squeeze his way into England’s ICC World Cup squad at Jason Roy’s expense.
There was an initial outcry over Brook being omitted from England’s provisional squad, especially after the 24-year-old responded by bludgeoning an incredible 105 off 42 balls for Northern Superchargers in the Hundred.
It was the fastest ton in the English franchise competition’s short lifespan and all the more remarkable given it made up the bulk of his team’s 158/7 in an eight-wicket defeat.
Across red and white-ball cricket, Brook has been a sensation since making his England breakthrough. During this year’s Ashes series, he became the quickest player to 1,000 runs in Test history in terms of balls faced.
The Yorkshireman’s ODI record is very underwhelming by comparison, something that he didn’t manage to alter during the 3-1 series win over New Zealand. Nevertheless, England’s selectors have decided to put their chips on the player he feels likely to become in the format, leaving Roy as the odd man out.
Why wasn’t Harry Brook in England’s World Cup squad?
The most straightforward explanation for Brook’s initial omission was Ben Stokes’ decision to reverse his retirement from ODI cricket, a move quickly vindicated when he smashed an English format record of 182 in the second match of the four-match rubber against the Black Caps.
“He [Stokes] is one of the best players to ever play cricket, so I can’t really complain, can I?” Brook told BBC Sport.
“Obviously it’s disappointing [to be omitted], but I can’t do anything about it now, you’ve just got to move on.
“I’m trying not to think about it any more. I’ve not had much conversation with [coach] Matthew [Mott] or [captain] Jos [Buttler]. They said with Stokesy coming back, I was probably going to miss out this time.”
Brook was unable to find anything quite so incendiary, contributing 25, 2 and 10 in three innings. In six ODIs overall, he averages 20.5 and has a solitary half-century.
Who is in England’s World Cup squad?
The expectation of flat pitches in India that will sap the energy from pace bowlers means England want rotation options in their seam department. Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, Reece Topley, David Willey and the uncapped Gus Atkinson take up six of the places on offer.
That means a comparatively light batting department, where Brook is expected to begin the tournament as the reserve option.
Jonny Bairstow and Roy were set to reprise their successful opening partnership from the 2019 campaign in a squad that predominantly relies on experienced heads from four years ago.
The 36-year-old Malan is among the oldest of those and has had to battle against players generally viewed as more attractive options by the wider public. However, his sheer weight of runs has been impossible to ignore.
Against New Zealand, the left-hander was the leading runs scorer in the series and scored his fifth ODI century in a 21-game career in the final match. What was initially presumed as a shootout between himself and Brook for selection was not remotely a competition.
Roy has played more ODIs than any other England player since the 2019 World Cup but his form has trended in the opposite direction to Malan’s. He was unable to feature in any of the games against New Zealand following a series of back spasms, a factor that also counted against him and allowed Brook to sneak in.
Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali are once again the frontline spin options.
Spin-bowling all-rounder Liam Livingstone is one newer face from the subsequent years and is likely to bat at six below captain Jos Buttler.
England’s ICC World Cup squad: Jos Buttler (c), Moeen Ali, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, David Willey, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes