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A bad break for Hales as Billings retains chance to make big impact

By Rory Dollard

Alex Hales' broken hand has cost him a place in England's one-day series in the West Indies next month but the selectors have resisted the temptation to tinker with the bowling attack.

Of the 15-man squad selected for the ODI series against India, which England lost 2-1, Hales' absence is the only change, with no replacement selected.

That gives Sam Billings three more matches to press his case as an alternative partner for Jason Roy at the top of the order but seamers Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Chris Jordan have been overlooked.

At least one of the trio was thought to be in contention after Jake Ball, Liam Plunkett and David Willey failed to deliver consistently on the benign pitches of India but they all have another chance to book a place at a home Champions Trophy in June.

For Broad, who gave a reminder of his white ball skills during a stint with Hobart Hurricanes in Australia's Big Bash League, the news could conceivably mark the end of his limited-overs hopes.

The 30-year-old has played just two ODIs since the 2015 World Cup and if England are not tempted to draft him back into the 50-over picture at this stage of his career, he looks likely to continue as a Test specialist.

One player who still has a good chance of making his way into contention is Durham paceman Mark Wood, who is still recovering from an ankle injury.

Chairman of selectors James Whitaker said: "We felt it was important to keep faith with the squad that competed in India. The current group of players are making excellent progress under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan and head coach Trevor Bayliss."

England will arrive in St. Kitts and Nevis on February 22 and will play two warm-up matches at Warner Park before taking on the West Indies twice in Antigua and once in Barbados.

Hales does not require surgery. He could still take part in the Indian Premier League auction and should be fit to take on Ireland in two ODIs in May.

Belfast Telegraph


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