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Cricket World Cup 2023

Explained: Why Harry Brook has been left out of England’s 2023 World Cup squad

Harry Brook
by Katya Witney 3 minute read

Harry Brook has been left out of England’s squad for the upcoming World Cup in India – here’s why.

Everything has gone Brook’s way in his England career so far. He broke record after record in the Pakistan Tests, followed up in New Zealand with a mammoth century in Wellington, and became an all-format player within the first year of his international career. He already has a T20 World Cup winners medal to his name, and scored a crucial 80 after a top-order collapse in his second ODI against South Africa in January.

In short, he has a solid set of credentials for a spot in a 15-player World Cup squad. Yet, Brook’s name was the most conspicuous absence among the group announced this morning. With Stokes un-retiring, Liam Livingstone given the nod and Dawid Malan retaining his place, Brook has been squeezed out of the middle order.


To break down why this has happened, it’s worth looking at what – or who – has changed since Brook last played an ODI.

The format has taken a backseat for England over the last few years, as it has done globally. The XIs they’ve put out in various bilateral series have not resembled the one that will step out in their first match of the World Cup.

Joe Root has played in just nine ODIs in the last three years, and Jonny Bairstow’s injury has kept him out since last July. Circumstances and the schedule have also kept Livingstone out of the side over the last 12 months. From England’s 15-member squad for their most recent ODI tour, in Bangladesh earlier this year, only nine make the World Cup squad. Brook was not part of the that squad because of the Tests in New Zealand.

When Brook played in his so far only ODI series in South Africa, the side resembled slightly more of what the one in India will look like. Crucially, however, Stokes, Root and Bairstow were all absent. With them part of England’s 2019 core group and certainties when available, the batting order has had to be rejigged for them to come back in.

It’s expected that Malan will no longer play as an opener as long as Bairstow and Jason Roy’s form holds. That will be the opening partnership, with Root coming in at three. England had four squad spots to fill after them to give them options between four and seven, alongside Jos Buttler already inked into one of those places. Malan, Stokes, Duckett, Brook, Moeen Ali, Phil Salt, Livingstone and Will Jacks could all lay claim to one of those.

Moeen would have been automatically in as one-half of the spin attack in India. As would Stokes upon confirmation of his availability, regardless of whether he bowls or not. Livingstone got the nod over Jacks for his bowling ability as much as anything else, leaving one spot open. Malan and Brook can currently claim superiority in the format over Duckett and Salt, leaving a straight shoot-out between the two.

Brook’s ODI sample size is still too small to draw a cohesive conclusion about his credibility in the format. But on his List A numbers (15 innings, one century and two fifties) and the extreme level of talent he undeniably possesses, there’s every argument he should be in the squad, leaving Malan on the outside once more.

His IPL season in 2023 is also relevant. While he looked comfortable against spin in the Ashes, he had struggled earlier this year in India. After he was picked up for £1.3 million by Sunrisers Hyderabad, aside from his phenomenal century, he recorded three ducks and only passed 20 one more time in his ten innings.

There’s no greater praise of Brook’s potential than that he could have legitimately been selected over Malan, despite Malan’s form over the past two years in ODI cricket: since last January, only Shai Hope has more ODI centuries than Malan (four); his average in that time is 61.1; and his runs have come at nearly a run a ball.

That’s also not to mention the importance of some of those centuries. In Australia, just a week after he wasn’t selected for the T20 World Cup final, he scored 134 when no other England batter managed more than 34. He was one half of a 232-run partnership with Buttler against South Africa and saw England home with an unbeaten 114 in a tricky run chase in Bangladesh.

Malan also offers versatility, something that’s present among pretty much all of England’s World Cup batting options. He can and has batted in every position in the top four when required. Brook’s role is more fixed as a straight No.4.

When it boils down to it, picking a more experienced player who averages 54.92 in ODI cricket and has hundreds in each of England’s last three series, over one with three ODI caps to their name and single-figure scores in two of them is not controversial. Brook’s talent and Malan’s magnetism for falling behind at the last minute are what’s made it so.

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