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He deserves to be there – England’s Matthew Potts backed to shine in Test arena

Matthew Potts is ready for England honours according to his Durham bowling coach (Mike Egerton/PA)
Matthew Potts is ready for England honours according to his Durham bowling coach (Mike Egerton/PA)

England newcomer Matthew Potts will not be overawed by the Test arena, according to Durham’s bowling coach Neil Killeen, who expects him to “walk in like he’s been there five years”.

With a handful of seamers ruled out through injury, Potts has received his first international call-up for the squad to face New Zealand at Lord’s on June 2 and will join up with his new team-mates on Sunday.

Taking on the reigning World Test champions at the home of cricket is a big ask for a 23-year-old who is currently plying his trade in Division Two of the LV= Insurance County Championship, but with 35 wickets at 18.57 this season he will not be lacking in confidence.

Durham's bowling coach Neil Killeen has worked with Potts from a young age.
Durham’s bowling coach Neil Killeen has worked with Potts from a young age (Owen Humphreys/PA)

And Riverside stalwart Killeen, who has mentored the 23-year-old since he was a teenager in the club’s pathway, has no doubts about his readiness for the big stage.

“It’s won’t faze him at all. When he gets to that dressing room, he’ll walk in like he’s been there five years,” Killeen told the PA news agency.

“It’s not about arrogance, he just knows that he deserves to be there. Injuries or no injuries, I believe Matty should be with England.

“He showed glimpses of that last year but he’s trained so hard over the winter and does everything you ask and more. He’s fitter, stronger, faster and he would run through a brick wall for you.

“It’s been hard work for bowlers up and down the country this year. The groundstaff have produced good batting pitches and the balls haven’t been the best, so if you’ve taken the wickets he has you have really deserved it.”

Potts could find himself lining up alongside the two most prolific wicket-takers in England history, with James Anderson and Stuart Broad back involved after a controversial Caribbean absence, and he is unlikely to shrink in their shadow.

“He’s quick to ask questions and he just likes to be one of the lads. He’s never afraid to stand up and speak up,” said Killeen.

“My first memories of Matty were as a 14-year-old, a livewire, Jack the lad. Now he’s one of the main characters in our dressing room.”

Killeen took 262 first-class wickets but never made it to international cricket as a player. Now he sees preparing his charges for the step up to be one of his main responsibilities and has helped new England captain Ben Stokes with his bowling as well as working extensively with Potts, Mark Wood and the highly-rated Brydon Carse, who made his ODI bow last summer.

The 46-year-old has worked as an ECB consultant before and has put his name forward for a coaching secondment in the new-look backroom team this summer.

“We have a fantastic tradition of fast bowling at Durham, going back to people like Steve Harmison and Graeme Onions, and I keep that going then I’m doing my job,” he said.

“I send these bowlers off to England and that’s where I want to be too, make no mistake.”