England captain Eoin Morgan faces the “worst” phone call of his career when he and national selector Ed Smith name the hosts’ World Cup squad on Tuesday morning, says Michael Vaughan.
The emergence of fast bowler Jofra Archer has made it likely one of David Willey, Tom Curran or Joe Denly will miss out.
“It’s going to be the worst conversation an England captain or selector has had because whoever misses out deserves to be in that team,” said Vaughan on Test Match Special.
“Going back a few World Cups, we struggled to finalise an 11. Now we have a group of about 20 players who can all make that 11.
“It’s not going to be easy on Monday afternoon when they make that phone call.”
Bowler Chris Woakes appears all but certain of his place but even he admitted to nerves around his selection.
“Everyone will be looking at their phones,” he said. “Everyone will be wary of that phone call.
“Even if you feel you have a good chance of being in the squad, until you hear it from selectors, it’s not set in stone.
“As a player, you are on edge, in particular with this group of players, because everyone has performed at some point during the series.”
Willey and Curran, in particular, have been key men in an England squad which has risen to number one in the world rankings in recent years.
They were both named in England’s provisional 15-man squad last month, but teams are allowed to change their selections up until 22 May.
England begin their World Cup campaign on home soil against South Africa on Thursday, 30 May at The Oval.
England’s provisional squad: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
* Alex Hales withdrawn from squad on 29 April; replacement yet to be named
Willey or Curran to miss out?
Archer’s pace bowling has been impressive in England’s 4-0 series victory over Pakistan and he is expected to be promoted into the final 15-man squad.
Hampshire batsman James Vince is favourite to replace Alex Hales, who was withdrawn days after being suspended following an “off-field incident”.
That appeared to leave Willey, 29, and Curran, 24, locked in a straight shootout for a place when they lined up together in the final one-day international against Pakistan on Sunday, which England won by 54 runs.
Willey offers a left-arm option, Curran yorkers and slower balls. Both can bat and made useful lower-order contributions at Headingley, but neither bowled a telling spell.
“In my mind they’re swaying towards one player missing out – whether it’s Willey or Curran,” said Vaughan, who expects Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood to make the final squad.
“Tom Curran looks like the kind of player you want in there. He’s got that mentality and vibrancy that if he gets the opportunity to play suddenly in three weeks’ time, he wouldn’t make any excuses.
“He’d want that ball at the end and that moment of going out to bat with his team under pressure.
“He just doesn’t let England down when the pressure is on.
“I remember in Australia a few years ago, in Perth, he got a five-wicket haul. He got into the Australians’ faces, got the ball in hand and said to himself that he was going to make the difference.
“That’s what you’ve got to do, especially on the kinds of wickets where the ball is not doing a great deal.
“You’ve got to have the mindset that if you get hit for a six, which will happen, you get ready for the next ball and don’t let it affect you. He has that steel about him.”
|Curran or Willey – head to head|
Former England batting coach Mark Ramprakash, however, believes Willey’s natural variation as a left-arm seamer could sway the selectors.
“David has got Big Bash experience, has won matches for England and has a pretty good record,” Ramprakash said.
“There was a stat that came out in the IPL a couple of years ago that left-arm seamers tend to be more economical and provide variety for teams. He’s got plenty of qualities but whoever misses out is incredibly unlucky.”
Could Denly be the man to miss out?
If England wanted to select both Willey and Curran, they may choose to discard Kent’s Joe Denly who offers an extra batting option and bowls part-time leg-spin.
“Joe is highly thought of by Ed Smith,” added Ramprakash. “He had a fantastic county season last season.
“He played very well in the West Indies and he has a lot of fans.
“England, however, don’t know enough about his bowling for him to to come in and be a frontline spinner.
“I think he’ll be very worried at the moment but he’s a talented player and could be a good squad player.”
The doubts around Denly’s bowling were echoed by Test Match Special commentator Charles Dagnall.
“I’m worried if one of the main spinners goes down because Moeen and Adil Rashid are so critical to the way England play,” said Dagnall.
“I’m leaning towards having another spinner in the squad, and (Hampshire’s) Liam Dawson is the one.
“An outside name, a left-field decision, would be to consider Matt Parkinson at Lancashire who has a very good white-ball record.
“I think they might talk about him at the very least.”