England white ball head coach Matthew Mott has praised Harry Brook’s reaction to being left out of England’s ODI World Cup squad, reiterating that it is a ‘provisional’ 15.
Brook’s exclusion came as a shock to a lot of England fans after his performance during the Ashes, Ben Stokes coming out of retirement clearly pushing the young star out of the side.
During England’s T20 series against New Zealand, Brook hit knocks of 43 and 67 in the first two matches to keep his name firmly in the World Cup conversation.
Despite not being included in England’s “provisional” 15 heading to India, Mott admitted that Brook has been “impressing” with his response to the World Cup selections.
“When you are leaving the calibre of players out of these squads, it just shows how strong the domestic competition is,” Mott told Sky Sports Cricket.
“I think we all listen to the criticism and everyone is entitled to an opinion, that is the beauty of our game.
“The fact that people have got such strong opinions means the game is strong and is very vibrant.
“I don’t think anybody doubts Harry’s ability, he is an incredible player and he has shown that.
“What I am most impressed with is his response since missing out and that is what great players do.
“There is a lot to play out before we pick that first 11 to play New Zealand in India and we have always said it is a provisional squad. Everyone will have the opportunity to show what they have got.”
So, why then is it that Brook hasn’t made the squad? That comes down to a number of factors, namely loyalty, Stokes’ return and a lock of ODI experience.
“There is a fair bit of loyalty that goes with it and Harry has not played a lot of one day cricket over the last few years,” added Mott.
Who could make way for Harry Brook?
Jason Roy- Will be looking to solidify his place in the squad during England’s ODI Series vs New Zealand
Dawid Malan- Has been a consistent player for England in the ODI format but would be the easiest straight swap
David Willey- Is on the fringes of the squad and could drop out for an extra batter
Liam Livingstone- Needs to find form with the bat and the ball during England’s ODI Series vs New Zealand
“He has been exceptionally good in Test cricket and T20 cricket and the leagues around the world but the guys we did pick have done a good job for England over the past few years.
“It is always harder to get into sides than get out of them and we have played that card there.
“As I said, it is a provisional squad, every team will be tinkering before that World Cup and whether they are inside that 15 or outside of it, they should be determined to put their best foot forward.
“I find it hard to look at that 15 and think anybody does not deserve their spot.
“A lot can change and there is a lot of water under the bridge before we get to that first game with New Zealand.”
Atherton: New Zealand ODI Series defining tournament for selectors
For Sky Sports Cricket’s Michael Atherton, England’s ODI Series against New Zealand will be the key event that helps the England selectors decide who should be on the plane to India.
“I think the selectors are hoping something becomes very clear-cut before the end of the New Zealand ODIs,” said Atherton.
“That, for example, Jason Roy has such a fantastic series at the top of the order that he puts the conversation to bed or conversely if he doesn’t it might be clear cut that way.
“I would be very surprised not to see Brook in the World Cup squad.”
Mott: You always want a Stokes in your team
Although Brook has been shining across the formats, Mott believes no one would argue with having the big game player of Stokes in the side, especially at a pressure event such as a World Cup, his proven track record sealing his spot.
“I think I was quoted at the start saying I don’t think Ben really needed to retire at the start,” added Mott.
“It was a congested schedule and his knee was giving him a lot of grief but over time, the strategy was just to leave him alone but we were always hopeful.
“When you have got a player, like we saw in the T20 World Cup, that can win you matches and can find a way to win under pressure, you are always going to want him in your team.
“I am not going to lie it would be lovely if he did bowl just because of the balance it would provide but his batting alone is incredible.
“He always delivers in the big moments and that is what World Cups are about.
“There are fine margins and you want players with a proven track record of doing that under pressure and I have got no doubt, everyone in that squad knows he is of that calibre.”
Every team tries their best to mix experience with up-and-coming stars and Mott is also excited to see Gus Atkinson perform on the world stage after impressing in the T20 series against New Zealand, his pace putting his name firmly in the conversation for a starting spot.
“He has been on the long-term radar for a little bit,” he said.
“Anybody of that pace is on our radar and we are excited to have him around, he has been a great character.
“Sam Curran has nurtured him into the side, he feels like he is at home, and already in the T20 series we have seen how good he can be.
“When you are bowling like he has the last couple of games you put yourself up there.”
England’s ODI series against New Zealand gets under way on Friday in Cardiff, with coverage live on Sky Sports from 12pm.