(Reuters) - Batsman Alex Hales has been withdrawn from England’s preliminary World Cup squad to avoid any “unnecessary distractions” ahead of the showpiece tournament, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Monday.
Hales is serving a three-week ban for recreational drug use, the Guardian newspaper reported on Friday.
“We’ve worked hard to create the right environment around the England team and need to consider what is in the best interests of the team...” Managing Director of England Men’s Cricket, Ashley Giles, said in a statement.
“I want to make it clear this is not the end of Alex’s career as an England player. The ECB and the PCA will continue to aid Alex and work alongside his county club Nottinghamshire to give him the support he needs, to help him fulfil his potential as a professional cricketer.”
The Nottinghamshire batsman will not travel to Ireland for a one-off ODI on Friday and has also been removed from England’s ODI and Twenty20 squads against Pakistan.
The selectors added Nottinghamshire batsman Ben Duckett and Middlesex batsman Dawid Malan to the squad for the Ireland trip and the T20 against Pakistan after Jason Roy and Mark Wood were ruled out.
Roy is unavailable after suffering a back spasm, while Wood will feature for Durham in the domestic ODI competition against Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire Vikings.
The pair will return for the five-match ODI series against Pakistan which begins on May 8. They will be joined by Hampshire batsman James Vince, who was also included in the 17-man squad.
A replacement for Hales in the World Cup squad must be named by May 23, when final squads are submitted to the International Cricket Council.
Hales was fined and suspended for his involvement in a nightclub altercation with team mate Ben Stokes in 2017.
The 30-year-old was given a six-match one-day international ban in December. He had already missed two games and the remainder of the ban was suspended for 12 months so he could be available for selection.
The 50-over World Cup begins on May 30 with England taking on South Africa in the opening match in London.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar and Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty and Pritha Sarkar