Jofra Archer, Sam Curran and Ben Stokes have been rested from England's ODI squad for their three-match series in South Africa as the ECB looks to manage the amount of time players spend in bio-secure conditions away from their families.
Archer spent more time than any other England player in bubbles at the Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford this summer, while Curran was not far behind. Stokes flew to New Zealand for family reasons after the first Test against Pakistan, and all three players have been in the UAE playing in the IPL. Archer and Curran have been there for the last two months, while Stokes joined the tournament a month back.
Jos Buttler, who ran Archer close for the most days spent away from home over the summer and has also been at the IPL, is named in both squads. Eoin Morgan, who will captain both squads, warned last month about the strains of "bubble to bubble" cricket on players' mental health, while Archer and Curran have both spoken about concerns over burnout during the IPL.
Ed Smith, England's national selector, said that players had been rested in order to ensure that they had sufficient rest and were able to peak during global tournaments, rather than arriving exhausting.
"The ECB's position, for a number of years now, has been to permit players to play in the IPL, and that has coincided with England's very good form in white-ball cricket, their World Cup success and also now their very strong T20 side," Smith said. "It's going to have to be a case-by-case situation where we as selectors, but also players, constantly evaluate what's in the players' interests but also what's in England's interest and we're very sensible about player workloads.
"The ECB's position has been to allow players to play in the IPL and we are going to take opportunities as selectors for England to rest one or two players when we think it's a good opportunity to do so. The second half of this white-ball tour is an example. And we'll also look to make sure England teams are strong across formats at all times but probably peaking, if possible, at big tournaments when we need our best players the most.
"I don't think it's a question of [them being] too tired. It's more nuanced than that. If you look at the commitment shown to England by those three players - Curran, Archer and Stokes - and their big performances in an England shirt, I don't think anyone could question their commitment to the cause. It's simply the case that the ECB had a stance for a number of years of permitting players to play in IPL. Clearly multi-format players, who also play franchise cricket... are people who need some rest and we, as selectors, are very mindful of that."
Tom Banton, the Somerset batsman, is named among the three reserves across both formats after a disappointing T20I series against Australia in September. He is joined by Jake Ball, who last won a cap in 2018 but topped the wicket-taking charts in this season's T20 Blast, and Tom Helm, the Middlesex seamer.
Along with Archer, Curran and Stokes, Dawid Malan - ranked the world's No. 1 T20I batsman by the ICC - and Chris Jordan are only included in the T20I squad, while Gregory, Livingstone, Stone, Joe Root and Chris Woakes will replace them for the 50-over series. The T20I series is a rare opportunity for England to field their strongest team in the format, which Buttler said last month would be crucial for their 2021 T20 World Cup preparations.
Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson, the young Lancashire bowlers, are both eye-catching omissions, while other overlooked players who have been in recent squads include Pat Brown, Joe Denly, Phil Salt and James Vince. David Willey, who was a surprise omission from the squads to play Australia after being named player of the series against Ireland, has a minor back injury, while Liam Dawson (Achilles) and Richard Gleeson (back) were also unavailable.
England will fly to South Africa on Monday, November 16, and will stay in a Cape Town hotel in a bio-secure environment. They will play three intra-squad warm-up matches - a 50-over game at Newlands on November 21, and two T20s in Paarl on November 23 - before three T20Is from November 27, and three ODIs from December 4. The intra-squad games could provide the players in the ODI squad only - including Root - with an opportunity to press their case across formats.
The news is a blow for several Big Bash teams, with players named in England's squads set to be unavailable to play in the competition until after Christmas due to a compulsory 14-day quarantine period on arrival in Australia. Teams have already lined players up to cover for their English international signings, with Will Jacks set to fill in for Malan at Hobart Hurricanes, Dan Lawrence lined up to replace Banton at Brisbane Heat, and Joe Clarke due to replace Jason Roy at Perth Scorchers.