Lyth, Wood in squad for NZ Tests
England may feel they have rid themselves of one devil having informed Kevin Pietersen he will not be considered for selection this season but they will inherit another when the first Test begins against New Zealand next Thursday with Adam Lyth set to become the 666th Test cricketer for England.
Mark Wood, the Durham fast bowler who toured West Indies, could also debut against New Zealand after being included in the 12-man squad for the first Test of the summer against New Zealand at Lord's.
Lyth, 27, was reduced to 12th man duty in the Caribbean as Jonathan Trott was given an opportunity to revive his international career but Lyth will now get his chance as Alastair Cook's sixth opening partner since the retirement of Andrew Strauss in 2012. Lyth enjoyed an outstanding 2014 with 1489 Championship runs at an average of 67.68 as Yorkshire won their first title since 2001.
With Trott having retired from international cricket, Lyth will be the latest batsman to try and forge a new partnership with Cook. None of the other five players tried - Nick Compton, Joe Root, Michael Carberry, Sam Robson and Trott - have lasted more than nine Tests. Having toured the Caribbean, Lyth has only played one match in the UK this season, making 53 and 23 against Hampshire at Headingley, but a lack of cricket having been with the England squad was naturally not held against him.
"I'm over the moon," Lyth said, "I'm looking forward to opening the batting next week. It's very exciting, I'm sure there will be a lot of nerves next week but I'm looking forward to the challenge ahead. It will be one of the proudest moments of my life. It was great to get the experience in the West Indies but now I get my chance and there's no better place to make your debut than at Lord's. Hopefully I can be in the side for a long period now and would love to play an Ashes series."
Alex Hales, the Nottinghamshire batsman, staked his own claim for a call up with a double century against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge and 141 and 94 at the Ageas Bowl - he is the leading run-scorer after five rounds of the County Championship - but Lyth has been given first opportunity and Hales has been called up for the knockout stages of the IPL with Mumbai Indians.
"Adam Lyth has waited patiently for an opportunity with England having performed consistently for Yorkshire and England Lions in the last year," national selector, James Whitaker, said. "He fully deserves his chance to cement a place in the side at the top of the order. Mark Wood has also impressed and his pace and style of bowling ensure the coach and captain have options in the bowling attack.
"There were some positive signs during the recent Test tour and it is key that this group of players learns from the instances when the opposition was put under pressure and we were in a position to press for victory but couldn't quite manage it. New Zealand are a very talented side and I expect a very competitive series between the two teams to start what will be an incredibly exciting summer of cricket. Good luck to Alastair, Paul Farbrace and the rest of the squad."
Wood, who played in the washed-out ODI in Dublin last week, may be the second England debutant at Lord's if England decide to make a change to the attack that played in the Caribbean. Ben Stokes, England's seam-bowling allrounder, is likely to be persisted with despite just three wickets at 85.33 in three Tests against West Indies. He bowled some impressive spells and also made 79 in Antigua. Chris Jordan, who took six wickets at 42.66 in the Caribbean, could make way for Wood as third seamer.
Wood, the 25-year-old Durham bowler, was fast-tracked into the England set-up and could make his Test debut after just 24 first-class matches. He impressed for Durham in 2013 with 27 scalps at 24.07 in the county's third Championship triumph. Injury reduced him to just one warm-up match on England Lions' tour of Sri Lanka but this winter toured South Africa with the Lions. He was also in England's party in the Caribbean.
This is the first squad of Strauss's reign as director of England cricket. He sat in on the selection meeting led by national selector James Whitaker, whose role is the latest to come under scrutiny after Strauss's appointment. England go into the series without a permanent coach after Peter Moores' sacking. Paul Farbrace, the assistant coach, takes temporary charge. Alastair Cook, who made his first Test century for almost two years in Barbados, continues as captain after Strauss offered his public backing at his unveiling on Tuesday.
Liam Plunkett, who also toured the Caribbean and featured for England in Test matches last summer, might have been considered but he was left out of Yorkshire's match at Headingley this week for disciplinary reasons.
England squad for first Test against New Zealand
Alastair Cook (capt, Essex), Adam Lyth (Yorkshire), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Jos Buttler (wkt, Lancashire), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Mark Wood (Durham)
Alex Winter is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo He tweets here