Phil Salt knows there is plenty to play for ahead of the World Cup

By Sports Desk September 21, 2023

Phil Salt insists he would “be there in a heartbeat” if England needed him as a World Cup reserve in India.

Jason Roy had been earmarked as the next man in should injury create a vacancy at the top of the order during the tournament, but the 33-year-old was stung by his last-minute omission from the squad and is currently on retirement watch after turning down a place in the Metro Bank Series against Ireland.

That means there is plenty to play for those who will be involved on Saturday at Trent Bridge and Tuesday in Bristol, with players on the periphery jostling to catch the selectors’ eye.

A modest total of just 14 ODI caps is still enough to make Salt the most experienced member of a second string with just 38 between them and a strong showing against the boys in green could help him inch one step closer to inking his name in as first-choice replacement.

“We haven’t had that conversation as yet. I’d imagine if that was to happen, it would be a little bit further down the line, probably after this series,” he said.

“But I know it’s an opportunity to stake a claim to a reserve spot and, obviously, if I got the call I’d be there in a heartbeat.

“We’ve got a young group here but it’s an exciting group who have done very well, whether that’s playing for their counties or in opportunities in franchise cricket or the Hundred.

“Coming into the dressing room and seeing how many proven performers we have sitting under the radar of the full-strength squad, I think it’s quite an exciting opportunity.”

Salt’s aggressive ball-striking and ability to double up as a wicketkeeper has earned him plenty of interest on the franchise circuit and he has previously turned out in domestic competitions in India, Australia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan and the West Indies.

The vast sums available on the franchise scene is becoming a huge issue for boards to contend with as they seek to preserve the primacy of international cricket, with an avalanche of retirements expected to follow the completion of the World Cup.

At 27, and with plenty of unfulfilled ambitions at the highest level, Salt insists he is not tempted by life as a global freelancer but accepts that the appeal will only go up as the years progress.

“That’s probably quite a personal question for some people,” he said.

“Some people are at the stage of career where they are prioritising, earning money and securing their future and their family’s future. I’m a bit luckier in the position that I’m in where I’ve got time to make these calls and declare what I want to do.

“Right now, I just want to play as many games as I can for England. There’s a lot of franchise opportunities out there, but every game I can get in an England shirt, I want to take the opportunity with both hands.

“But there’s no doubt if I play as long as I want to, there will be a time where, like with every other professional cricketer, you’ve got that challenge where you’ve got to make decisions for yourself. It’s a hell of a question isn’t it?”

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