Eoin Morgan gave no assurances to Joe Root about a place in England’s side at next year’s T20 World Cup – although the limited-overs captain insists there are few guarantees at this stage.
Root is one of a number of England’s 50-over World Cup stars to be rested from the T20 series in New Zealand, which gets under way in Christchurch, where Worcestershire seamer Pat Brown will make his international debut.
A T20 strike-rate of 126.3 and four single-figure scores in his last six innings in the format has led to questions about Root’s spot going forward, even though his average of 35.72 is bettered only by Kevin Pietersen among Englishman.
With England now sharpening their focus to their next attempt at a global trophy, the Test skipper has said recently he is committed to continue playing in all three formats.
But Morgan was keeping his cards close to his chest when asked specifically whether the Yorkshireman is currently in his first XI for the tournament in Australia in 12 months’ time.
He said: “I wouldn’t say many are locked in, including myself.
“Twelve months is a long way down the road, we play a lot of T20 cricket between now and then, so I think being quite flexible and trying to build a 15- or 16-man squad is actually more important than the final XI.”
England’s preparations begin in earnest on Friday, with Sam Curran set for his first experience of a T20 international at Hagley Oval, having featured in 11 Tests and two one-dayers.
Despite combined figures of one for 70 from seven overs in the two warm-ups against a New Zealand XI, the 21-year-old Brown has also been given the nod at the start of the five-match series.
Brown was the leading wicket-taker in the Vitality Blast last year while his subtle variations, including a devilishly deceptive knuckle ball, have encouraged England, whose squad has an experimental feel in the absence of the likes of the rested Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler and Jason Roy.
Morgan said of Brown: “For such a young guy leading the attack at Worcester, he’s taken that on with great responsibility and great clarity, his skill level is certainly up to scratch.
“Since he’s arrived, he’s impressed; he’s a proper athlete and a modern day cricketer that can do pretty much everything which is fantastic.
“With his bowling, his variations are his strength so hopefully tomorrow we’ll see a bit of them. Facing him in the nets, (Brown’s knuckle ball) is not that easy to pick.”
Morgan did not confirm the full XI – although he revealed Dawid Malan and not Tom Banton would partner Jonny Bairstow at the top of the order.
Joe Denly rolled his right ankle towards the end of England’s final training session on Thursday morning, moments before Morgan addressed the media, and an England and Wales Cricket Board spokesperson later confirmed the Kent all-rounder would miss out on playing.
Banton or Somerset team-mate and fellow newcomer Lewis Gregory have been tipped to replace Denly, who will be assessed over the next 48 hours by England’s medical team.
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