England facing selection crisis ahead of Cricket World Cup and Ashes as Alex Hales, Sam Billings and Ollie Pope bring bad news

A day of bad news for Trevor Bayliss will have been most unwelcome at the ECB

Ed Malyon
Friday 26 April 2019 16:18
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Trevor Bayliss has some big decisions to make
Trevor Bayliss has some big decisions to make

It's the start of the county season, so perhaps it is only fitting that it never rains but it pours.

That must be the feeling for Trevor Bayliss right now, who learned in the past few days and hours that he will be without Alex Hales, Sam Billings and Ollie Pope in the short-to-medium term.

Hales is understood to have failed a second test for recreational drugs, as first reported by the Guardian, and has received a 21-day suspension from the ECB . With the explosive opener already treading a disciplinary tightrope with England, the latest of Hales' misdemeanours will bring his place in the team - or even the squad - for the World Cup into question. As things stand, he is still set to link up with the squad following the conclusion of his ban.

England selectors are not thought to have been aware of the positive test at the time of the squad announcement. Last week Hales took an indefinite break from county cricket in a move announced by Nottinghamshire.

“Alex Hales has made himself unavailable for selection for personal reasons and no timetable has been set for his return to action,” the country said in a statement on their website.

Alex Hales is serving a 21-day ban after failing a second drugs test

Hales still has a chance of playing in the World Cup but fellow batsman Sam Billings won't be, with the Kent batsman set to miss between three and five months after dislocating his shoulder while in action against Glamorgan.

The 27-year-old needed oxygen on the field and immediately his World Cup seemed in jeopardy but scans have confirmed the worst fears for Kent and England, who both lose a valuable piece of their sides.

Ollie Pope sustained the same injury diving to field in the deep for Surrey this week and, like Billings, will have to go under the knife.

A statement from Surrey says "it is hoped he will return to first-team cricket towards the back end of the current 2019 domestic season", which would appear to be a significant blow to his chances of playing in the Ashes.

Still only 21, Pope will have plenty more opportunities to play for England in the future but after a promising start to his international career last summer, it looks as if the pause button has been pressed on his international career by a cruel injury.

His county and international teammate Jason Roy had to retire hurt this week with back spasms but the explosive opener is not thought to have a serious issue.

With England's luck right now, it's just as well.

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