But Roy signalled in newspaper interviews after the Hundred that he expected this World Cup to be his England swansong. He said that, at 33, he anticipates “a changing of the guard” in 50-over cricket and acknowledged that, 14 months after his most recent T20I appearance, he is unlikely to feature in next year’s T20 World Cup.
Malan, Wright said, was “absolutely outstanding” against New Zealand, finishing the series as the leading run-scorer on either side despite missing the second ODI for the birth of his son. When the selectors reconvened, “we realised things had slightly changed and Dawid would be the one opening the batting with Jonny in the World Cup.”
That meant a decision over who was better suited to being the lone spare batter in the squad. “From Jason’s point of view, he probably only covers us for an opener,” Wright explained. “Harry gives us that cover from Nos. 1-6 and has obviously been in great form as well. It’s been an incredibly tough decision but it shows where we’re at in English cricket, that there are so many tough decisions.”
“One thing you can’t disagree with on Harry is that whenever he gets an opportunity – whether that’s in Test cricket, T20 and hopefully now in 50-over cricket – he takes it with both hands. When we left him out of the original squad, we knew we were leaving out someone who is potentially a world-beater. In any selection, there’s always a risk with whoever you pick.
“Does it make it harder to leave out someone who has played so many games in Jason? Absolutely. It’s hard to leave someone out with that pedigree. But also, it was so hard to leave out someone with Harry Brook’s talent. We think he’s a fantastic player who gives us those options from Nos. 1-6 which, from a tactical point of view and if there are any short-term injuries out there, gives us that cover we need.”
Buttler and Mott spoke to Roy in turn at the weekend to explain England’s decision. “The feedback was that he is very disappointed,” Wright said. “I’m sure he’s hurt – but also, Jason knows what professional sport is like.” They have also given him the option of playing against Ireland, but told him it would not affect his World Cup chances.
Roy has also been earmarked as a reserve top-order batter, in the event of an injury to Malan or Bairstow, but will not travel with the squad to India. At this stage, England intend to take Jofra Archer as their only travelling reserve to continue his rehabilitation in the hope that he will be fit enough to play a role at the end of the tournament.
“As a reserve batter at the top of the order, we’ve made it very clear we see him [Roy] as the man to do that and I don’t think there’s any reason why we wouldn’t,” Wright said. “We’ve spoken to him about that. He’s got time to reflect now over the next few days. The early response was that he’s still available for England; unless that’s changed, that’s how we see it.”
There was a time when England’s selection decisions in the build-up to World Cups felt panicked; this one was cold and calculated. Roy’s international career may not yet be over – as Wright would tell him, things happen in sport – but if this really is the end, it is a ruthless way for an England white-ball great to go.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98