Harry Brook could yet force his way into the final England squad for the defence of their World Cup crown as white-ball captain Jos Buttler suggested the Yorkshireman remains on his radar.
Brook was omitted from the preliminary party to travel to India in the autumn, nudged out of contention by Test skipper Ben Stokes being selected as a specialist batter after reversing his ODI retirement.
England have until September 28 to finalise their 15-strong group and Brook delivered a jaw-dropping reminder of his capabilities with a 41-ball ton for Northern Superchargers in The Hundred this week.
While Buttler is standing by last week’s decision, he suggested he has not entirely discounted Brook, who has become an automatic pick in the full-strength Test and T20 sides, from his thoughts.
Speaking ahead of Manchester Originals’ men’s eliminator against Southern Brave, Buttler said: “There’s still a long time before everyone’s meant to get on the plane so we’ll wait and see what happens.
“We all know Harry’s a fantastic player and we saw what he can do the other night, it’s not like it’s a surprise, we know what a brilliant player he is.
“He’s just the unfortunate one at the moment to not be in that squad. Ben Stokes coming back and being available just as a batter changes the dynamic a little bit.
“Ben’s a fantastic player to be able to welcome back. It’s a really tough selection, there have been players performing really well over a period of time and that’s where we are at the minute.”
After the conclusion of the group stages of The Hundred, Brook, whose Superchargers side were unable to reach the knockout rounds, sits second in the run-scoring charts, behind only Buttler.
The Originals captain’s 298 runs at an average of 42.57 and strike-rate of 143.26 has underpinned their success, where they will be hoping to go one better after losing last year’s final.
Buttler missed last year’s competition because of a calf problem and Originals head coach Simon Katich is in no doubt that having such a star performer in their ranks this time has been so crucial.
Katich told the PA news agency: “In a way, it’s like having another overseas player in the ranks given you’ve got the England captain, highly-experienced and a world-class player to boot.
Manchester Originals v Southern Brave, Kia Oval, August 26
Oval Invincibles v winner of eliminator, Lord's, August 27
“England in recent times have had wonderful players and a lot of white-ball success but you’d be struggling to name a player that’s outplayed him in that period of time.
“He’s achieved it all – won the T20 World Cup last year as the skipper, won the ODI World Cup in 2019 as a player and vice-captain to Eoin Morgan. His CV speaks for itself.”
The Originals were beaten on Wednesday by their opponents on Saturday at the Kia Oval – where the winners will take on Oval Invincibles a day later at Lord’s.
While a formidable pace trio of Craig Overton, Chris Jordan and Tymal Mills have made light of Jofra Archer’s absence due to injury, teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed continues to thrive on the big stage.
Despite bowling what Brave captain Vince described as “probably his 10 worst balls in his first couple of sets” against the Originals, Ahmed, who turned 19 this month, snared the crucial wicket of Buttler.
The contributions of Ahmed, who made his England debut in all three formats last winter, helped the Brave secure a six-wicket win at Emirates Old Trafford and ultimately a place in the eliminator.
Vince said “(Ahmed is) a confident guy, backs his ability and I think that really shone through in the last game. He still felt like he could have an impact on the game.
“To be honest, you kind of forget his age. That’s down to the way he is around the group, the way he is on the field. He’s certainly above his years.
“If you didn’t know his age, you would easily say from the way he carries himself and the way he performs that he’s in his mid-20s. I think he’s going to grow and grow.”