Jos Buttler dreaded delivering another World Cup blow to Jason Roy but the England captain felt a sense of duty to be the one to tell his close friend of the news first-hand.
Roy was named in England’s provisional squad for the defence of their ODI crown in India, starting next month, but repeated back spasms put him on the shelf for four warm-up contests against New Zealand.
In his absence, Dawid Malan sewed up an opening spot alongside Jonny Bairstow and Harry Brook’s ability to bat anywhere in the top six meant he squeezed into the final 15-man touring party, edging out Roy.
Buttler anticipates Roy will instead take up the option of being on standby, slotting into the group again if injury strikes a top-order player.
But that was no consolation to Buttler over the weekend when informing Roy he had not made the cut, having made an identical phone call 12 months ago when the opener’s poor form led to him being axed from the squad ahead of England’s triumphant T20 World Cup campaign in Australia.
“I don’t think any time is easy,” Buttler said. “It’s part of the job as captain that is not enjoyable, whether they’re great friends or not, it’s not a nice job to do.
“I certainly feel like it’s my responsibility to give that news. He’s a really great mate of mine so it was a really tough call to make.
“Jason will be the top-order reserve, absolutely. Harry, we do feel gives us versatility – he can cover one to six in the batting order which is obviously something that’s advantageous in a squad.
“But good players miss out, it’s the very brutal nature of sport. There’s plenty of people outside the 15 who will have felt that they were in with a really good chance of a spot.
“It’s a bad headache to have but a good problem as a selection committee when you have a deep pool of players to choose from.”
England ODI squad for World Cup
Jos Buttler (Lancashire – captain)
Moeen Ali (Warwickshire)
Gus Atkinson (Surrey)
Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire)
Harry Brook (Yorkshire)
Sam Curran (Surrey)
Liam Livingstone (Lancashire)
Dawid Malan (Yorkshire)
Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)
Joe Root (Yorkshire)
Ben Stokes (Durham)
Reece Topley (Surrey)
David Willey (Northamptonshire)
Mark Wood (Durham)
Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)
Joe Root is inked into England’s first-choice XI and as he made just 39 runs in four innings against the Black Caps, the Yorkshireman has been added to the squad to face Ireland of his own volition.
Featuring in three ODIs, the first on his home ground of Headingley on Wednesday, is an ideal chance to get back into form before England head for the subcontinent, having played in just 19 matches in the format since the 2019 World Cup final.
“It just shows his hunger to play,” Buttler added. “He’s someone who over the last four years because of the schedule probably hasn’t played as much 50-over cricket as he would like.
England World Cup fixtures
- October 5 – New Zealand
- October 10 – Bangladesh
- October 15 – Afghanistan
- October 21 – South Africa
- October 26 – Sri Lanka
- October 29 – India
- November 4 – Australia
- November 8 – Netherlands
- November 11 – Pakistan
“He’s an experienced guy and he knows what he needs. He’s arguably the best player in our team and he just knows what he needs to get ready. It was very simple for all involved.”
Buttler was speaking to promote England’s official kit supplier Castore extending its ‘summer of sport’ campaign, which aims to highlight key occasions in the sporting calendar, including the World Cup.
Watch England’s three-match ODI series against Ireland live on Sky Sports, starting with Wednesday’s opener at Headingley. Coverage begins at 12pm ahead of the first ball at 12.30pm.
Watch the Cricket World Cup live in full on Sky Sports between October 5 and November 19 with England vs New Zealand kicking off the competition in a repeat of the 2019 final.