Captain says ‘it’s just too much to ask’ of those players to be involved in Sri Lanka, Pakistan series
Eoin Morgan has revealed that he expects to be without the services of England’s multi-format players throughout their home T20I series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan next summer.
England have been at full strength for both of their two most recent T20I series – the 3-0 win in South Africa in late 2020 and this month’s 3-2 defeat in India – and several players were given periods of rest during the Test series in Sri Lanka and India in order to ensure that Morgan had a first-choice XI at his disposal.
The rest-and-rotation policy has led to suggestions that England are prioritising T20I results ahead of Tests, but Morgan said after their 36-run defeat in the fifth T20I that he expects their all-format players to be unavailable for the home series this summer, despite the imminent T20 World Cup in India.
The specifics of players’ availability will depend in part on logistical factors. England operated in a series of biosecure bubbles last summer due to the pandemic, meaning there was minimal overlap in the personnel available to Morgan and to Joe Root in the Test squad, but with restrictions easing in the UK, it may be feasible for players to play in several different formats.
However, with an away Ashes series immediately after the T20 World Cup and a home schedule involving two Tests against New Zealand and five against India, player welfare will remain an important consideration. As a result, it appears highly unlikely that Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood will play any part in the T20I series, while Sam Curran and Jonny Bairstow may also be rested if they are included in Test squads.
“I would imagine all of the multi-format guys [will miss those series],” Morgan said. “It’s just too much to ask, given the winter guys have had as well, around being in a bubble. A lot of it will be dependent on how flexible it is to come in and out of the biosecure environment that we’ll have during our summer, and whether they can see their families or not.
“We’ve been lucky with injuries so far but we can’t always have our fast bowlers as fit as we would like them. What we will have throughout the summer is opportunities for guys to stake their claim.”
England played the same team in four of the five T20Is in India, with Tom Curran replacing Mark Wood due to a bruised heel in the second fixture, but Morgan stressed that “nobody is nailed on” to play the first game of the World Cup and said that he expects players who missed out in this series, like Moeen Ali and Sam Billings, to be given further chances to impress before the tournament.
“If any player, including myself, looks that far ahead and thinks ‘my position is nailed down’ then they’re mistaken,” Morgan said. “[For players outside the team] the message has always been the same: to go to tournaments and try and be the best player at the tournament. If that’s always your goal, even if you fall short, you’re continually improving and exposing yourself in conditions that aren’t necessarily easy to bat or bowl in.
“That’s one of the really good sides of not having your best players available the whole time – you tend to grow as a squad, and we’re lucky that we do have a lot of talented guys who don’t have opportunities that often that have been in and around sides.
“We looked at it last summer with guys like Tom Banton, Sam Billings, and Moeen Ali [who has] taken on great responsibility when he’s had the opportunity. We’ve had Phil Salt in, we’ve had a number of players that have come in and definitely impressed. The talent is there and there will be more opportunity throughout our summer to see players that have real international ability.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98