England’s white-ball coach Matthew Mott has dropped the biggest hint yet that Harry Brook could be handed a World Cup reprieve, suggesting the final squad is “still open for debate”.
Brook was surprisingly omitted when England announced their preliminary 15-man squad for next month’s tournament in India and there has been a growing clamour to revisit that decision before the deadline on September 28.
The 24-year-old was initially edged out by Ben Stokes’ retirement U-turn but a century for Northern Superchargers in his next innings, followed by two eye-catching knocks of 43 not out and 67 in T20 wins against New Zealand, put him firmly back in the shop window.
🆕 NEW RECORD 🆕
🏏 42 balls💨 105 runs🤩 1 outstanding innings
— The Hundred (@thehundred) August 22, 2023
Dawid Malan is the most vulnerable of the specialist batters, all-rounder Liam Livingstone is in a run of indifferent form and they could even opt to rebalance by losing a seamer. But while the precise route back is not clear, there is now no doubt that the door is open for Brook.
“Yes, it is. He is one of a number of players who has an opportunity to put their hand up,” Mott told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special.
“There is the opportunity to make changes right up until the tournament. I think the guys that are in that 15 have got the first crack at it but, as we’ve said throughout, we’ll just monitor and see how players are going and make some fine-tuning if needs be.
“What I would say about Harry is that what you want to see from players when they miss out on a squad, is you want them to come out and slam that door down. And I thought at the start of this series, and with his hundred in The Hundred, he made a real statement. Those are all good things that go in his favour.
“It is still open for debate and there will be plenty of good cricket played in the next month so we’ll see what that squad ends up looking like.”
Mott continued to lavish praise on Brook, adding: “He’s a gun player and I believe he is going to be one of the best players in his generation. It’s just an incredibly hard side to select and to squeeze 15 players into it.
“It’s not always about just picking the best players. World Cups are sometimes about the what-ifs, about what might happen, and we’ve workshopped it a lot. But we are keeping an open mind.”
Mott was speaking after England’s six-wicket defeat to the Black Caps at Trent Bridge, with the tourists chasing down a target of 176 to square the T20 series 2-2.
Brook was dismissed for just four, but with only Jonny Bairstow in credit with the bat after a brutal 73, the dial was not significantly shifted.
As it stands, Brook is not in the ODI squad to face New Zealand as the focus moves decisively towards 50-over cricket in Cardiff on Friday – a potential missed opportunity for the selectors to make up their minds once and for all.
Our two 15-player squads for the series have been revealed 👀
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 16, 2023
Mott did indicate that he would get a chance in the season-ending games against Ireland, though, meaning he does have more cricket to come before the plane departs for India.
“He may be in that Ireland squad so you can read into that,” he said.
“It’s the media’s job to create speculation and it’s our job to put a lid on it and I think we are doing that. The players are coping with it really well.
“There is always pressure on international cricketers and in very good teams, good players are going to miss out. That creates a hunger and a desire for players to get even better because they know that there is someone ready to take their place if they don’t perform. That is a healthy thing that happens in very good teams.”