England’s World Cup selection dilemmas unsolved despite Malan certainty
The return of Ben Stokes to ODI cricket meant that the competition in England’s multi-talented group of middle-order batters became more intense. This led to the omission of the gifted Harry Brook from England’s provisional squad.
But Brook’s performances ensured the debate was far from settled. He smashed a century in England’s domestic limited overs competition, The Hundred. And followed it up with two fiery knocks in the T20Is against New Zealand.
The growing clamour for his inclusion meant that pressure grew on the likes of Malan.
However, Malan’s splendid run in the ODIs against New Zealand has effectively sealed his place for the World Cup. He was the highest run-getter in the series, with 277 runs at an average of 92.33 and a strike-rate of 105.72.
Speaking on Sky Sports, former England skipper Nasser Hussain praised Malan, stating that the batter’s presence has a positive impact on those around him.
“He is disciplined and orthodox - a machine. He is very consistent, the glue that allows everyone else at the other end to come out and be positive.
“He likes to bat through [the innings] but his strike-rate is up at 95, 96 so he doesn't plod along. He puts anything short and wide away and is in phenomenal nick.”
At the same time, Brook’s numbers nosedived in his World Cup audition. He struggled with merely 37 runs at an average of 12.33. There is still hope for the player though, as England’s regular opener Jason Roy is struggling with back issues.
Discussing Roy’s fitness issues on Sky Sports, England’s World Cup-winning skipper Eoin Morgan stated, “The biggest concern now is Roy's level of fitness.
Morgan wanted Roy to feature in the upcoming games against Ireland.
“He has to play in the Ireland series as you can't sit in a selection meeting with any amount of confidence and pick him for the World Cup at the moment.
“He has to go through a certain level of game time, recuperation and then possibly another game to try and prove his fitness.”
Michael Atherton, another former England captain, backed Morgan’s assertions. According to him, while Roy, a regular around global T20 leagues, needed to reacquaint himself with the rhythms of the ODI game, the nature of injury might also hinder his participation in the global event.
“I speak from experience when saying back spasms are difficult to deal with because they suddenly come on and when you get them they are in the back of your mind,” Atherton added. “You don't have full confidence in your body.”
“The nature of this tournament in India means you are flying from venue to venue. Every day is a flying day, different hotels, different beds, lots of travel, which is not good for that type of injury.
He stated that Roy’s participation in the event could very much still be in doubt.
“England have yet to name their final squad and, who knows, Roy might not make it.”
England will feature in a three-match ODI series against Ireland before heading to India. They will play two warm-up encounters against India and Bangladesh respectively, before featuring in the tournament opener against New Zealand on 5 October at Ahmedabad.