|England v Pakistan – second ODI|
|Venue: Ageas Bowl, Southampton Date: Saturday, 11 May Time: 11:00 BST|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.|
England’s decision to remove Alex Hales from their World Cup squad has brought the remaining players closer together, says fellow batsman Joe Root.
Hales had been named in the hosts’ preliminary World Cup squad despite serving a 21-day suspension following an “off-field incident”, which the Guardian reported was a positive test for recreational drugs.
He was then dropped after a senior players’ meeting, for what limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan described as a “complete breakdown in trust”.
“Now we’re back playing cricket, that is really good for the group,” said Test skipper Root.
“We can concentrate on our full focus being on the cricket going into the World Cup.”
And when asked if Nottinghamshire right-hander Hales’ exclusion has had a unifying effect on the England squad, Root added: “Yes, absolutely.”
England’s World Cup squad will only be finalised after the ongoing one-day international series against Pakistan. Their opening game of the tournament is against South Africa at The Oval on 30 May.
Barbados-born pace bowler Jofra Archer, who qualified to play for England in March, could still force his way into the final 15 and bowled with hostility in the little play that was possible before Wednesday’s first match of the ODI series was rained off.
And Root has been impressed by the Sussex right-armer, while rejecting any notion his late entrance to the ODI squad could cause any disharmony.
“He’s been extremely impressive so far,” said Root. “It’s early days, but the way he bowled yesterday was particularly good.
“When guys come in and perform well, that is good for the squad. If guys are performing at the best of their ability, that will improve the standard of the group.
“I don’t think he’s created any rifts, uncertainty, or problems in the team, it’s purely providing competition and that can only be a good thing.”
But Root would not be drawn on whether Archer would be part of the Test team that will look to regain the Ashes later in the summer.
“When you watch him play and train, you are always looking towards the Ashes,” said the Yorkshire right-hander. “There’s a huge of amount of cricket and chances for him, along with a lot of other guys.
“The selectors will make sure they weigh everything up carefully and cleverly. They will pick a squad of players that is performing well and are fit and ready to go.”
However, former England skipper Michael Vaughan was adamant that Archer will line up against Australia.
“I have no qualms about what I have seen from Archer,” said Vaughan.
“He will be involved in the Ashes. He’s outstanding. He’s different. He bowls 90mph, he bats, he fields like a gun. He will be playing Test cricket soon.”
‘IPL friendships could defuse Ashes animosity’
Also looking ahead to the Ashes, which begins on 1 August, England all-rounder Moeen Ali speculated that relationships formed at the Indian Premier League could have an effect on cricket’s oldest rivalry.
Whilst Moeen has been a team-mate of India captain Virat Kohli with Royal Challengers Bangalore, wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow has formed a hugely successive opening partnership with controversial Australia batsman David Warner.
After a fractious series between the two sides down under in 2017-18, Moeen believes experiences in India could remove some of the animosity.
“That is the one thing about the IPL that really helps. You get to know different people,” said the Worcestershire spinner.
“You play with guys who you’re not sure about, but you get to know them and you become good friends.
“If there is a bit of a feeling, it can take a little bit out. Jonny and Davey got to know each other quite well. In the past they have gone hard at each other, but I’m sure that it won’t be as hard this time.”