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England's World Cup countdown: Who's hot and who's not?

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Not having the option of a left-armer would be foolish - Butcher (2:29)

Mark Butcher says that David Willey has to be in England's World Cup 15, but who should miss out? (2:29)

England have reached the end of their tour of the Caribbean, which means they are entering the home straight in the run-in to the 2019 World Cup. Which players have cemented their credentials this winter, and which have fallen out of the reckoning? Let's run the rule.

First names on the team sheet

Eoin Morgan
Simply undroppable. The most calculating leader in world cricket at present, and worth his place for his field placings alone, not to mention the confidence he imbues in key performers such as Adil Rashid. The fact that he's in some of the best form of his career is a handy bonus.

Jason Roy
Started 2018 by setting a new England ODI record at Melbourne (180 v Australia), and started 2019 in the same vein, making a 65-ball century in a startling 361-run chase in Barbados. Of the three opening batsmen vying for two positions, Roy is by some distance the most assured of his role.

Joe Root
England's tempo-setter par excellence. Others have a greater weight of stroke, but no-one else in a power-packed line-up offers more versatility - whether it's finding the boundary with cutely weighted dinks through the field, or simply rotating the strike to keep the score moving in the pressure moments.

Ben Stokes
Has seemed slightly subdued with the bat since the Bristol incident, as if trying too hard to make amends. But with the ball, his ability to find prodigious swing, hit the deck and generally disrupt a settled partnership is a huge asset. The IPL, oddly enough, may be just what he needs to rediscover his free-spirited best.

Jos Buttler
The jaw-dropping ferocity of Buttler's Grenada onslaught drew comparisons with Viv Richards, no less, and little wonder - when you can arrive at the crease in the 26th over and still leave with 150 from 78 balls to your name, you are clearly an exceptional talent.

Adil Rashid
A decade into his England career, and Rashid is absolutely at the top of his game. The loose balls have been all but abolished, the subtlety of his variations remain extraordinarily hard to fathom, particularly for new arrivals and tailenders. And with Morgan calling the shots, he's a threat at any moment of an innings, not least - as he proved in Grenada - at the death.

Moeen Ali
He's hot, he's not, he's hot again … Moeen's England career has been marked by some extraordinary peaks and troughs, and right at this moment he's slipping into another fallow spell - no wickets in the ODI leg of the Windies tour, and next to no runs either. But on home soil he will be a different proposition. There's no way on earth he won't be in that first XI.

Starting XI shoo-ins

Jonny Bairstow
Almost certainly Roy's designated opening partner, but Bairstow's career has been fuelled by suspicion, doubt and a desire to prove people wrong. Therefore any suggestion that he's not an automatic pick will doubtless lead to a redoubling of his form - which, to be fair, has been a touch sketchy of late, with just one ODI fifty in 11 innings, though he also smacked 68 in the first T20I.

Chris Woakes
Fitness permitting, Woakes will be England's attack leader throughout the World Cup - but fitness is the one thing he's struggled for this winter. The management of a chronic knee condition limited his availability, and he came in for some fearful tap in between whiles. Home comforts will help, no doubt.

Mark Wood
A thrilling four weeks for England's resurgent quick. Fast, furious and incisive whenever he was thrown the ball, Wood has finally lived up to the potential he's been hinting at for the past four years. But those injury worries are never far from the surface. England will want to keep him fresh for the sharp end of the tournament.

Squad probables

Alex Hales
The kingpin of England's world-record 481 for 6 against Australia at Trent Bridge last summer, Hales' struggle to get a regular berth epitomises the enviable strength and depth of England's ODI batting. But what a talent to have waiting in the wings, keeping everyone else's standards as high as possible.

Liam Plunkett
Had the World Cup been 12 months ago, Plunkett would have been the first quick on the team sheet. His deck-thumping abilities in the middle overs have been invaluable in England's post-2015 resurgence, but he's 34 now, and the years of hard yakka are just threatening to catch up with him.

Jofra Archer
Now then … here's a conundrum for the England selectors. There's a ready-made superstar waiting in England's wings - with pace, variety, huge experience of pressure situations, as well as hard-hitting batting and world-class fielding. But he's played just 14 List A games in his career. Regardless of the reasons to be cautious, much like Kevin Pietersen going into the 2005 Ashes, he is surely too good to ignore.

David Willey
Overlooked for the ODI leg of the tour, much to his chagrin, Willey took his opportunity to push his case in the T20Is, finding new-ball swing with his left-arm line to ransack a slap-happy line-up. He'll surely be in the squad, even if his work is limited to six overs a match at the top of an innings.

Still in the running

Sam Billings
It will require a surfeit of injuries for Billings to move any higher up the pecking order, but his impressive initiative-seizing in the second T20I was a vindication of the faith that England have placed in him. Has struggled to take his sporadic opportunities in the past few seasons, but he undoubtedly has the talent to be a world-beater.

Joe Denly
A bit of a bolter in England's World Cup planning. And strangely enough, it's been his legspin, rather than his perfectly serviceable (if unremarkable) white-ball batting that has brought him to prominence. If Jamie Dalrymple can play in a World Cup, then Joe Denly certainly can.

Liam Dawson
Hampshire's Mr Reliable. Like James Tredwell in 2011, he's a ready-made go-to second spinner, a bloke who can come into a competition cold, and still pick up a bag of cheap wickets before thumping a few boundaries in the run-chase.

Chris Jordan
Man of the Series in the T20Is in West Indies, Jordan dropped a sizeable hint that there ought to be more than one Barbados-born Sussex-employed fast-bowling allrounder vying for that final 15. He's been pigeon-holed in T20s for the past three years, but with a more reliable stock ball to complement his cunning variations, he's looking capable of mounting a 50-over case too.

Tom Curran
As Stokes inadvertently showed in Kolkata three years ago, there's a clear value in handing your death-bowling duties to a specialist, especially in the heat and noise of a global world final. And few bowlers in England's ranks would relish the challenge more than Tom Curran. But does that skill alone justify his inclusion over and above other bowlers who may contribute more at other moments of the innings?

Not at the races

Dawid Malan
Malan's T20I record - four fifties in five innings at a strike-rate of 150 - implied he'd be a shoo-in for the Windies matches. But instead he was banished to the margins, a clear hint that he's not what England are looking for in the immediate future. Harsh, maybe, but England aren't lacking batting options in white-ball cricket.

Sam Curran
Let's see what happens at the IPL, where Curran's £800,000 price tag suggests he'll be given a central role in the King's XI campaign. But he's not yet been given his head in England's white-ball squads, and despite being called back to the Caribbean in as a late replacement for Moeen, that doesn't look like changing in a hurry.

James Vince
Another man who just can't help but be mentioned in dispatches. But Vince hasn't played in England's white-ball set-up since last summer, when he was an injury replacement, and seems too far down the reckoning to be resurfaced in a hurry. The Ashes, however, could be another story …

Olly Stone
A burst of pulse-raising aggression in the Sri Lanka ODIs before Christmas - his snorter to Niroshan Dickwella was a reminder of everything England's seam bowling had been lacking - but the stress fracture that ended his Caribbean tour has likely scuppered his chances.