Cricket news - Hales, Plunkett left out as ECB names 55-man training group

World Cup winner Liam Plunkett's career appears to be all but over as he was overlooked again

World Cup winner Liam Plunkett's career appears to be all but over as he was overlooked again

Alex Hales has been left out of England's 55-strong return to training group which was named by the ECB on Friday (May 29).

Hales has not played for England since being dropped on the eve of last summer's World Cup after failing a second test for recreational drugs. Earlier this week, Eoin Morgan said that while Hales was clearly a world-class player, more time was needed to rebuild the trust that had been lost between Hales and the rest of the squad despite a year having now passed since the incident.

Although the ECB have been at pains to say this return to training group is not an official England party, there is little doubt that the squads for the summer's international assignments will come from this 55. As a result, it is quite a statement that Hales has not been selected in such a large squad of players and almost certainly means he will not play for England this summer.

Some fast-bowlers, such as Chris Woakes, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, have already resumed individualised training while the rest of the group announced by the ECB will begin their programmes over the next two weeks at eleven venues across the country. Training will be individual in this first phase with a number of safety principles in place including strict social distancing and hygiene measures.

The ECB have not yet confirmed which players are being considered for the different formats. Given the likelihood of England running separate groups for the Test and white-ball series this summer, in part to enable them to play as much cricket as possible, it will be interesting to see which group the likes of Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow fall in.

There are places for a number of players who had fallen out of favour with England such as David Willey, Ben Duckett and Liam Dawson while fast-bowler Reece Topley has been included after a horror run of five stress fractures of the back. A number of younger players from the successful England Lions tour to Australia will also resume training, including Surrey's spinner Amar Virdi, Gloucestershire's wicket-keeper batsman James Bracey and Durham quick Brydon Carse.

Liam Plunkett's international career appears to be over after he was not included, and Jamie Porter, the Essex fast-bowler, was also overlooked despite taking 199 Division One wickets in the Championship over the last three seasons. There were, however, places for Keaton Jennings, Ben Foakes and Dawid Malan.

ECB Performance Director Mo Bobat said: "It's really pleasing to be in a position to have players returning to training and a huge amount of work has been done by many to get us this far. The pool of players will give selectors strong options when it comes to selecting squads across formats further down the line, as we move closer to our aim of playing international cricket this summer.

"We will need to continue to work closely with our medical team and government to ensure that our return to training and play activities are in line with best-practice guidelines. We're also really grateful for the positive and collaborative response from our county colleagues who are doing a great job at facilitating coaching and support for the players. The fact that we can call on our network to support the national effort shows the strength of our system."