Alex Hales has been given the clearest indication yet that his card is still marked after failing to make it into a bumper squad of 55 men’s players the ECB are preparing for the project of behind-closed-doors cricket.
An additional 37 players were added to the list of 18 bowlers and all-rounders who began training last week. All in all, 14 are yet to be capped by England in any format. Most damning for Hales, the inclusions are skewed towards limited overs cricket.
On Thursday England’s limited overs captain Eoin Morgan said he had spoken to Hales but suggested more time may be needed to forgive the opening batsman for failing a second recreational drugs Test at the start of last summer. It cost the 31-year old his place in the World Cup squad and, from Morgan’s perspective, could have “derailed” their successful campaign. There is also return for David Willey who lost his place in that same squad on selection grounds, to Jofra Archer.
The ECB have not specified who will be aligned to red and white ball formats, with the prospect of two separate squads to fulfil Tests against West Indies and Pakistan along with limited overs matches against Pakistan, Australia and Ireland. Confirmation on those squads will come in due course, though some of the 55 picked were told they were selected specifically for certain formats.
However The Independent understands players who represent England in multiple formats could still do so this summer should government guidelines ease around group interactions and self-isolation.
From a domestic point of view, there is a clear focus on limited overs cricket, with the likes of left-arm seamer Reece Topley back after a four year absence through injury. That is reflected in the uncapped cartel of Jamie Overton, Dan Lawrence, James Bracey, Phil Salt, Henry Brookes, Brydon Carse, Amar Virdi, Laurie Evans, Will Jacks, Ollie Robinson, Richard Gleeson, Sam Hain, Tom Helm and Tom Kohler-Cadmore. Lawrence, of Essex, and Sussex’s Robinson are the only two players with more immediate Test prospects.
The likes of Jamie Porter and Hampshire’s Sam Northeast will be particularly irked at not making the cut. No one has many as Porter’s 236 wickets over the last four complete seasons, and Northeast’s tally of 3,774 Championship runs (12 hundreds in that time) is only bettered by current England opener Rory Burns - also part of the 55 squad after recovering from an ankle injury picked up on the tour of South Africa - and Gloucestershire’s Chris Dent.
ECB performance director Mo Bobat said: “It’s really pleasing to be in a position to have players returning to training and a huge amount of work has been done by many to get us this far. The pool of players will give selectors strong options when it comes to selecting squads across formats further down the line, as we move closer to our aim of playing international cricket this summer.”
“We will need to continue to work closely with our medical team and government to ensure that our return to training and play activities are in line with best-practice guidelines. We’re also really grateful for the positive and collaborative response from our county colleagues who are doing a great job at facilitating coaching and support for the players. The fact that we can call on our network to support the national effort shows the strength of our system.”
Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Jonny Bairstow(Yorkshire), Tom Banton (Somerset), Dom Bess (Somerset), Sam Billings (Kent), James Bracey (Gloucestershire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Henry Brookes (Warwickshire), Pat Brown(Worcestershire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Brydon Carse (Durham), Mason Crane(Hampshire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Tom Curran (Surrey), Liam Dawson (Hampshire), Joe Denly (Kent), Ben Duckett (Nottinghamshire), Laurie Evans (Sussex), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Richard Gleeson (Lancashire), Lewis Gregory (Somerset), Sam Hain (Warwickshire), Tom Helm (Middlesex), Will Jacks (Surrey), Keaton Jennings (Lancashire), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Yorkshire), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Liam Livingstone (Lancashire), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Eoin Morgan (Middlesex), Craig Overton (Somerset), Jamie Overton (Somerset), Matt Parkinson (Lancashire), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Phil Salt (Sussex), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Reece Topley (Surrey), James Vince (Hampshire), Amar Virdi (Surrey), David Willey (Yorkshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)