The final place in England’s World Cup squad could be determined by the gut feeling of captain Eoin Morgan, with David Willey, Joe Denly and Liam Dawson seemingly vying for one spot.
National selector Ed Smith will announce the 15 men at Lord’s this morning, with 17 players included in yesterday’s deliberations.
Barring any unexpected fitness issues, the majority of the conversations should revolve around a solitary shirt, with three options offering entirely different answers to the same question.
Willey has the distinction of being the only left-arm seamer in the frame, but he has slipped down the pecking order since Jofra Archer’s emergence and may be considered a luxury given the pace bowling stocks at hand.
Denly is by far the most versatile player, a handy selling point in tournament cricket, though his failure to convince as a frontline spin option has brought Dawson back into contention at the 11th hour. The slow left-armer has not been with England since leaving the winter tour of Sri Lanka with a side strain, but has strung together a consistent sequence of performances and is clearly a more reliable solution than Denly should Adil Rashid or Moeen Ali succumb to injury.
Smith, his deputy James Taylor and coach Trevor Bayliss might all have their own preferences, but in the event of deadlock the influential Morgan could be called upon to settle the issue.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Bayliss said: “If it got down to a bit of a stalemate in discussions, in the four years that I’ve been here the captain gets a big say. He’s got to be the one comfortable with going out on the field with the other 10 players. The captain has a very big say.
“Of the 17 we have, if we ended up with 15 of those guys in this squad, Morgs and I would be happy. Unfortunately one or two guys have to miss out. That’s just the way it is in professional sport. It’s going to be a difficult position and everyone will feel for whoever misses out.”
Both Denly and Willey would be particularly disappointed after being named in the provisional squad last month.
Dawson may seem a relative latecomer in that regard, but Bayliss said he has never been far from the debate.
Probable England squad
Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.