Alex Hales was left out of England’s one-day squad for March’s three-match series in the West Indies announced Friday because of a broken hand, with Test spearhead Stuart Broad also omitted.
Hales’ absence was the only change to the 15-man squad that recently lost a three-match ODI series in India. England will now take a 14-strong party to the Caribbean, with no replacement selected for the Nottinghamshire opening batsman.
That should mean Sam Billings has more opportunities to secure his place at the top of the order alongside Jason Roy ahead of the 50-over Champions Trophy tournament in England in June.
Meanwhile England’s selectors have showed faith in their existing bowling group, with no recalls for the pace trio of Broad, Steven Finn and all-rounder Chris Jordan.
England’s quick bowling had been in the spotlight following the various struggles of Jake Ball, Liam Plunkett and David Willey to prove a consistent threat on placid Indian pitches.
Broad, 30, who has played just two ODIs since England’s miserable 2015 World Cup campaign, is keen to continue his career in international white-ball cricket and impressed recently during a brief stint with the Hobart Hurricanes in Australia’s domestic Twenty20 Big Bash competition.
But Friday’s squad announcement indicates England see his international future as a Test specialist.
“There is a huge emphasis on white ball cricket during the first half of 2017, as we continue our preparation ahead of this summer’s ICC Champions Trophy tournament in England,” said chairman of selectors James Whitaker in an England and Wales Cricket Board statement.
“We felt it was important to keep faith with the squad that competed during the recent tour of India.
“The current group of players are making excellent progress under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan and head coach Trevor Bayliss and the tour of the Caribbean will enable the team to test themselves in different conditions against a competitive side in the West Indies.”
Friday saw an England side captained by Morgan beat India by seven wickets in Kanpur in the first of three Twenty20 internationals.
England are due to arrive in St Kitts on February 22 and will play two warm-up matches at Warner Park before facing the West Indies twice in Antigua and once in Barbados.
Hales, who last year made England’s highest individual ODI score -- 171 against Pakistan at his Trent Bridge home ground -- has been told he does not need surgery and could now take part in the player auction for the lucrative Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition.
He should also be fit for England’s next two home ODIs, both against Ireland, in May.
England ODI squad
Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Liam Dawson, Eoin Morgan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes
Feb 25: Warm-up match, (50 overs): WICB President’s XI v England XI, Warner Park, St. Kitts
Feb 27: Warm-up match (50 overs), WICB President’s XI v England XI, Warner Park, St. Kitts
Mar 03: 1st ODI, West Indies vs England, Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, Antigua
Mar 05: 2nd ODI, West Indies vs England, Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, Antigua
Mar 09: 3rd ODI, West Indies vs England, Kensington Oval, Barbados