After weeks of deliberation, Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales made themselves unavailable for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh over security concerns.
It means the ODI side will be led by vice-captain Jos Buttler in Morgan’s absence, while both missing players will cede their spot in the line-up to new faces. In Hales’ case that will be in both the Test and limited-overs set-ups.
Safety is far more important than cricket and the decisions of both men are fully respected on that basis. But that may not matter much when their future England careers come up for discussion.
Neither player is particularly guaranteed to regain his place when the winter tour moves on to India following three ODIs and two Tests in Bangladesh.
While the side has unquestionably improved under Morgan’s ODI watch, the man himself has far from fired with just two scores above 50 in his last 16 innings.
The likes of Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings and the uncapped Ben Duckett appear to be at the front of the queue to succeed the Irishman at number four, with the former most likely to be given the chance to nail down a place.
Hales’ position as Jason Roy’s opening partner in coloured kit looks unthreatened given his consistency in the arena, but that cannot be said for his red-ball exploits.
A marked improvement against Sri Lanka at the start of the summer – where he scored three half centuries in five knocks – was wiped out against Pakistan when totalling 145 runs in eight innings.
His place in the Test side was already under threat. The decision not to travel may be his last act as a Test player.
19-year-old Lancashire opener Haseeb Hamed, who has scored 1,129 County Championship runs this season, is thought to be the next to get a chance to partner Alastair Cook at the top of the order on a permanent basis.
Should he be a success, there will be a long way back for Hales.
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