England white-ball captain Jos Buttler has left the door open for Harry Brook to force his way into their World Cup squad after another blistering innings by the Yorkshire batter.
Brook was omitted from the preliminary party to travel to India in the autumn last month after Test skipper Ben Stokes reversed his one-day international retirement to make himself available for the upcoming 50-over tournament.
England have until September 28 to finalise their 15-man group and Brook’s form since his snub has been scintillating with a 41-ball ton for the Northern Superchargers in the Hundred followed by two wonderful Twenty20 knocks in the four-match series with New Zealand.
Bairstow 8️⃣6️⃣*️⃣Brook 6️⃣7️⃣Atkinson 4️⃣/2️⃣0️⃣
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) September 2, 2023
Brook smashed his way to a vital 67 off 36 balls in a crushing 95-run win at Old Trafford on Friday night and his white-ball captain hinted the 24-year-old could still feature at the World Cup, which begins on October 5.
“He is playing brilliantly well and I thought the way he played tonight, the other night, all credit must go to him,” Buttler told the BBC.
“There is obviously a lot of noise around the World Cup and him not being in that squad at the moment, but for him to go and play the way he does, he is no different in the dressing room – nothing seems to affect him.
“There is a long time from now until we get on the plane and you never know what can happen. At the minute he is not in the squad, but you never know what can happen.”
Meanwhile, Jonny Bairstow, England’s other star performer in the second T20, admitted there was no substitute for international cricket in his bid to get his game in shape for England’s World Cup defence.
Bairstow looked in fine touch as he hit an unbeaten 86 from 60 balls to lay the platform for Friday’s victory over New Zealand.
The World Cup begins in India in just over a month’s time and, having played only four matches in the Hundred since the Ashes ended in July prior to this series, Bairstow was pleased to be back in action.
“I just wanted to play, to be quite honest with you,” said the 33-year-old.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) September 1, 2023
“I wanted to be back out playing white-ball cricket because I think that the natural rhythms of the games, whether it’s T20 or 50-over cricket, is something that, especially when you’re playing internationally, is something that’s very hard to replicate.
“You can play the Hundred, you can play for Yorkshire, but the different bowlers, the pressures, the crowds, the pitches – everything that comes with playing international cricket – is very difficult to replicate.
“So I was very keen to play these T20s leading into the ODIs and then, naturally, leading into the World Cup in a few weeks’ time.”
Bairstow combined in a thrilling 131-run partnership with Yorkshire team-mate Brook from just 65 balls.
Debutant Gus Atkinson then took an impressive four for 20 as New Zealand slumped to 103 all out in reply.
They now head to Edgbaston for the third encounter of the four-match series on Sunday with a 2-0 lead after an equally-comfortable win in Durham on Wednesday.
The sides will also play four one-day internationals this month and Bairstow expects the Kiwis – coincidentally England’s first World Cup opponents in Ahmedabad on October 5 – to bite back.
“They’re a blooming good team, New Zealand,” Bairstow said. “They’ve been an exceptional team for a long period of time and we know how dangerous they can be.
“We can’t take for granted how good these two performances have been. We’ve also got to look at how good they actually are as well, but we’ve played some exceptional cricket these last two games.
“And if we can keep doing that – and keep doing that over a longer period of time – then that can only be a good thing.
“It builds confidence, it builds an environment within the dressing room that enhances people’s performances when they go out in the middle.”