England leave out Joe Root for T20s against India but Liam Livingstone included in 16-man squad
Squad will depart on February 26 and will play five IT20s in Ahmedabad; squad for the three ODIs that follow yet to be announced but Ed Smith says group will be drawn from a similar list of players; national selector hints at possible summer return for Alex Hales
Last Updated: 11/02/21 4:13pm
England have once again overlooked in-form Test captain Joe Root for their Twenty20 squad to take on India next month.
Root has been in stellar form with the bat since the start of the year, amassing 644 runs in three Tests - including two double centuries - against Sri Lanka and India.
That was not enough to earn the 30-year-old a recall to the T20 squad - but Liam Livingstone has been brought back into the England fold on the back of his impressive performances in Australia's Big Bash.
National selector Ed Smith explained Root's omission by underlining the strength of England's batting options, coupled with a hectic international schedule that will see the Test side play 17 times this year.
However, Root is expected to feature in the ODIs that follow the five-match T20I series - and he could yet come into the reckoning for the World T20 tournament, which is scheduled for the autumn.
"We're seeing at the moment that Joe is one of England's greatest ever cricketers - that's becoming clearer by the day, by the match," said Smith. "Joe's sequence of batting in Test cricket is the best sequence I've ever seen from an England batsman.
"That said, Joe has an incredibly busy year coming up and it's also the case that England have won seven out of the last eight T20 series, with the eighth being a draw.
"That also coincided with moving to a very aggressive batting order in 2018, with Jos Buttler opening and Jonny Bairstow moving up the order. Statistically, England have been the world's leading batting team over that time.
"Joe always wants to play for England and help England win matches but he also knows he has demands on his energy and resources in Test cricket, where he's the leader and so central to our success.
"He also knows that if he doesn't play in that World T20 - and no decisions have been made - he could easily come back in. That shows how strong a position England cricket is in."
Livingstone, who won his only two T20I caps against South Africa in 2017, has earned an international recall after racking up 426 runs in 14 innings for Perth Scorchers.
The Lancashire all-rounder is the only addition to the 15-man squad that swept to a 3-0 whitewash in England's T20I series in South Africa before Christmas, with leg-spinner Matt Parkinson and seamer Jake Ball both named as reserves.
"Liam brings some other things too, with his bowling," added Smith. "In terms of major tournaments, where space is naturally limited to 15 available players, sometimes having those extra strings to your bow is an extra route into the squad.
"It's an exciting time for Liam, he had a really good Big Bash and he's a good fielder and bowler and an exciting batsman. It's a great opportunity for him."
Smith hints at being open to Hales return
Smith also hinted that the door might not be entirely closed to opener Alex Hales - who, like Livingstone, impressed during the Big Bash with Sydney Thunder.
Hales made the last of his 60 T20I appearances almost two years ago and was subsequently left out of the 50-over World Cup squad that summer after failing a drugs test.
Asked whether he might contemplate a recall for the 32-year-old, Smith said: "In the English summer we'll look at inviting some people to training as we look to extend and expand our squad and the relationships within.
"We're always looking at ways to consider getting players who aren't currently in the actual squad to come along to training days, perhaps in the run-up to a series.
"We're very aware of everything players do in franchise cricket around the world. I think that is something we will discuss and look at moving forward, with what's best for England cricket."
The T20I series gets underway on Friday March 12, with all five matches taking place in Ahmedabad.
England T20 squad: E Morgan (c) M Ali, J Archer, J Bairstow, S Billings, J Buttler (wkt), S Curran, T Curran, C Jordan, L Livingstone, D Malan, A Rashid, J Roy, B Stokes, R Topley, M Wood.