Uncapped duo Harry Brook and Matthew Potts have been called up for the first Test of England’s new era, but leg-spinner Matt Parkinson must once again wait for his chance.
The pair of 23-year-olds have been named in a 13-man squad for next month’s Lord’s clash against New Zealand, decided by a revamped selection panel chaired by director of men’s cricket Rob Key and featuring input from recently appointed captain Ben Stokes and incoming head coach Brendon McCullum.
Yorkshire batter Brook, who made his Twenty20 debut in January, has been rewarded for a prolific start to the LV= Insurance County Championship season during which he has raced to the top of the Division One run-scoring charts with three centuries and an average of 151.60.
Potts plies his trade with Durham in the second tier, but with a raft of injuries in the fast-bowling ranks his 35 wickets at 18.57 represented an irresistible case.
He will join a bowling unit boosted by the return of the vastly experienced James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who were controversially dropped after this winter’s Ashes.
While the presence of two young, in-form talents and the welcome restoration of the two leading wicket-takers in England’s history represents cause for optimism there may also be some frustration that the attack-minded pairing of Stokes and McCullum have not drafted in Parkinson.
The Lancashire wrist-spinner is renowned for his ability to produce unplayable deliveries and, after a couple of years on the fringes of the red-ball side, seemed to be close to a breakthrough.
He is the leading spinner in the country this term, despite bowling on largely unhelpful pitches, but even 23 scalps in four outings has not been enough.
Elsewhere, England have kept faith with Alex Lees and Zak Crawley, the opening pair from the recent West Indies tour, and retained wicketkeeper Ben Foakes for what should be his first home Test.
Jonny Bairstow also holds his place despite his ongoing involvement in the Indian Premier League and a late decision on his readiness could be required.
Key, who also involved performance director Mo Bobat, head scout James Taylor and player identification lead David Court in selection, said: “This is the start of a new era for our Test team under the stewardship of Ben and Brendon.
“With a blend of youth and experience, we have selected an exciting squad that can compete with New Zealand in next month’s Test series.
“We have rewarded players in Harry Brook and Matty Potts who have had outstanding starts to the county season, and they deserve the opportunity to stake a claim at this level.
“It promises to be a mouth-watering series, and I can’t wait for the team to start against a very good New Zealand side. It is a fascinating prospect for everyone connected with the sport in this country.”
With Crawley down to open, Stokes’ predecessor Joe Root moving back down to number four and Dawid Malan once again omitted, there is a lack of a specialist number three batter in the squad.
Surrey’s Ollie Pope appears likely to take the role, but that would be a significant gamble given his modest returns at five and six as well as a failed experiment at number four at the start of his England career.
Brook would be the other option, but seems more suited to challenge for a middle-order slot.
England’s new leadership group will have surely bemoaned the lack of fit pace bowlers, with Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Olly Stone all on their way back from injury, while Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Fisher have both just suffered stress fractures of the back.
Surrey’s Jamie Overton would have been one exciting option, but he once more finds himself behind his more consistent but less explosive twin brother Craig in the shake-up.
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