The reasons why Harry Brook is not in the World Cup
Stokes, batting roles and England bowlers all play a part, but so does something from the ICC.
England are getting a lot of flack for not picking Harry Brook in their World Cup squad. But while their selectors or Ben Stokes return are getting the blame, there is a much bigger issue here.
On cricket alone, it is worth looking at whether Harry Brook should be in the World Cup squad for England.
Their plan for this World Cup looks pretty much exactly the same as the last time. Essentially attack at the top, score at a run a ball in the middle and then explode at the end. It won them a World Cup, and they haven’t played as many ODIs with their main side since.
And we can tell they want the same kind of team by the preliminary squad selection. The common thought is that Ben Stokes kept Harry Brook out of the squad, and that is at least partly true. But it’s far more complicated than that.
England use depth charts for their teams. So essentially they will have a list of roles that they want to fill in any squad which is a bit different to how conventional selections have worked in cricket. So England are not just looking for openers, they believe they have a template for winning white ball cricket, and because of that they are not looking for batters, but types of players.
So this is the squad as it currently exists, without Brook of course. So according to the depth chart, it is worth looking at what roles these guys have. Jason Roy is only there to attack when he opens. Jonny Bairstow is the other opener who also attacks and is also the backup keeper. This is fairly normal, except that they attack more than everyone else.
Of all the openers with 1000 balls in the first ten overs since the ’15 World Cup, they are the fastest scorers in cricket. So those roles are fine, and there are no backups in this side for these two, but I would assume that they aren’t planning on dropping either. A late injury might need a replacement, but Malan, Stokes and perhaps Buttler could do this if needed.
On Buttler, he has a role too. That is as a late enforcer. Essentially the idea here is for your player to come in around the 30-over point and capitalise on the last few overs before the death starts, Harry Brook would be ideal for this, if not a backup. But England have a backup in the squad who can do this if Buttler can’t - Liam Livingstone.
What Livingstone gives them is more than just batting, he’s a match-up spinner with the ability to turn the ball away from any batter. His bowling is pretty limited and more suited to T20, but he can give some flexibility in selection.
I think that’s the main reason, but there are others. Livingstone is older, he’s also vastly more experienced in one-day cricket. Brook is a fantastic player, but taking him to a World Cup would be a massive leap for him. Not that Livingstone has played a lot, but it’s still a big difference and he’s far more experienced.
There are obviously a few people who believe that Harry Brook can’t play spin, as he hasn’t played much in Asia. But we have IPL and PSL numbers, and he was poor in one and good in the other. So it’s even more confusing. I had questions on his play of spin and I shared them with someone in the camp and they didn’t believe it was an issue. His inability to bowl spin is a much bigger deal than Livingstone playing it better in the IPL.
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