Roy out, Brook in: England announce Cricket World Cup squad
The 15-man England Cricket World Cup squad has been finalised with Jason Roy dropped from the provisional list in favour of Harry Brook.
Here, we look at how the decision was reached and what it means for England, who are the second favourites at 11/4 in the Cricket World Cup winner odds.
How big of a surprise is Roy’s omission?
Roy has been a mainstay of the team for the past eight years and forged one of the most productive opening partnerships in history alongside Jonny Bairstow. Just a few months ago, travelling to India without him would have looked a fanciful notion, but things have changed quickly.
His form over the last four-year cycle has been patchy – well below what came before – and when back spasms saw him ruled out of the recent series against New Zealand, question over the opener’s place got louder and louder by the day.
So was it an issue of form or fitness?
Surely both. Had Roy been in peak condition he would have faced the Black Caps and been in control of his own destiny.
The back spasms, which came in two separate bursts, were a concern on the eve of the tournament that will test the durability of players over seven weeks. But England are not hiding behind that issue and the selectors were also mindful that Roy was no longer undroppable.
His influence has been on the slide for a while and he was also axed from the T20 squad just before last year’s World Cup. In summary, Brook was backed as a superior option.
Is this the end of his international career?
It would not be a surprise if Roy has played his last England match. A wider changing of the guard is expected once the tournament is completed and with Roy already losing his place in the T20 team last year, he could have reached the end of the road.
Earlier this year he cancelled the remainder of his ECB central contract to take up a deal in the United States’ Major League Cricket and, at 33, life as a hired hand on the franchise circuit may appeal.
What about the reserve list?
England will have the chance to take three additional squad members as travelling cover, but it could be too much to expect Roy to fill that role in the circumstances.
Instead, they may look to the second string who start an ODI series against Ireland on Wednesday. That brings the likes of Ben Duckett, Phil Salt and Will Jacks into consideration, with the latter’s spin bowling an interesting factor.
Who made the decision?
Head coach Matthew Mott and captain Jos Buttler both have a key say in the team they lead, with the influential director of cricket Rob Key and national selector Luke Wright also involved. None were in post when a similar move was made in 2019 to bring Jofra Archer in at David Willey’s expense.
How did Brook make his case?
On the face of it, the Yorkshireman put in a modest audition during three innings in the recent New Zealand series, totalling just 37 runs. But he has had an exceptional start to his international career, including some eye-catching efforts in this summer’s Ashes.
His immediate reaction to being left out of the provisional England Cricket World Cup squad – a blistering century in The Hundred, followed by rapid knocks of 43 not out and 67 in T20s against the Black Caps, was exactly the response required to inspire a U-turn.
Will he come straight into the team?
Dawid Malan is inked in to open with Bairstow after a prolific spell standing in for Roy. He goes about his business in a different way to Roy, a slower starter but a more consistent scorer, but has thoroughly earned his chance.
Brook will likely start the tournament as the spare batter but has the versatility to cover any of the top six. At some point during a seven-week competition, he should get his opportunity.
England Cricket World Cup squad
J Buttler (captain), M Ali, G Atkinson, J Bairstow, H Brook, S Curran, L Livingstone, D Malan, A Rashid, J Root, B Stokes, R Topley, D Willey, M Wood, C Woakes.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication