Hales in, Bopara out of ODI squad
England have included Alex Hales in their ODI squad for the forthcoming series against India, with Ravi Bopara dropped as the management focus their minds on preparing for the 2015 World Cup. Michael Carberry and Tim Bresnan were also left out, while Steven Finn has won a recall but there was otherwise no radical shake-up six months out from the tournament.
A call-up for Hales, a regular in the T20 side, had been expected and he is likely to open alongside the captain, Alastair Cook, and provide greater boundary-hitting proficiency during the Powerplay overs. Ian Bell, Cook's opening partner for the last two years, could drop down to No. 3, where Gary Ballance and Joe Root are also options.
Hales has made an irresistible case for promotion to the 50-over side, scoring three List A hundreds in the last three weeks, the most recent a domineering 141 off 96 balls for Nottinghamshire against Middlesex. He was part of England's ODI squad in the Caribbean earlier this year, ahead of the World T20, but missed out on a debut due to a thigh injury.
His form has extended to four-day cricket, after a difficult 2013, and on Monday he scored an unbeaten century to lead his side to victory against Northamptonshire. "Following the tons for the Lions last week, at Lord's on Thursday and now today, I feel I'm in the best form of my career - and I hope it continues," Hales said afterwards.
It is for his power in the shorter formats that Hales has won a place in England's World Cup planning - Eoin Morgan described him as being "like nobody else we have" - seemingly at the expense of Bopara. Both scored centuries for the Lions in the recent triangular series, although Bopara has filled a very different brief for England's ODI side, in which he has been a regular since the 2011 World Cup, generally batting at No. 6 or No. 7 and providing a useful option with the ball. This year, however, he has averaged 23.70 from 13 innings, to go with seven wickets at 41.57.
England lost the ODI series against Sri Lanka 3-2 earlier in the summer but have resisted making dramatic changes to their template. Cook, having recanted on his suggestion that he could give up the one-day captaincy during England's miserable tour of Australia, will continue to provide a solid base at the top of the order and the importance of his role was reiterated by the coach, Peter Moores.
"Alastair's record probably stands up with a lot of openers," Moores said. "With the way one-day cricket is going, there is a huge emphasis on the top of the order ... With two new balls, you've got to get through, but you've got to score at the right rate. So you've got to get a balance of people at the top end, the first half of the game, who score at the right rate."
Moeen Ali, who was left out of the Sri Lanka series to work on his red-ball bowling, returns alongside Ben Stokes and it is perhaps those all-round options which have persuaded England to dispense with Bopara, whose wicket-to-wicket seam-up bowling may have been more vulnerable in Australia and New Zealand, where the World Cup will be held. Stokes has not been involved with the limited-overs squads since breaking a bone in his wrist punching a locker in the West Indies and was dropped from the Test side during the India series after extending his run of scores for England to 0, 5, 5, 4, 0, 4, 0, 0, 0, 0 in all formats.
Stuart Broad has been omitted to allow him to undergo knee surgery, with Finn included alongside Stokes, Chris Jordan, Harry Gurney and Chris Woakes as fast-bowling support for James Anderson.
"With the World Cup now less than six months away our focus over the coming months switches to identifying our strongest possible squad for that competition," James Whitaker, the national selector, said. "However this is an important series in its own right and we have selected 15 players who we believe will perform well against an Indian side with a strong one day record.
"This series presents an opportunity for players to build on their international and domestic form and demonstrate that they have the ability to win games of cricket for England. With plenty of domestic limited overs cricket still to be played this season and a series against Sri Lanka in November before finalising our World Cup squad there are still opportunities for us to consider a number of players who have missed out on selection."
England squad: Alastair Cook (capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick