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News

Harry Brook, Matthew Potts called up but familiar names dominate England's Test squad

Anderson, Broad recalled but more continuity than change in first squad of Key-McCullum-Stokes era

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
18-May-2022
Harry Brook and Matthew Potts have won their first call-ups to England's Test squad for the first two Tests against New Zealand, with James Anderson and Stuart Broad's anticipated recalls confirmed.
Rob Key, England's new managing director of men's cricket who was involved in the selection process, said the squad represented "the start of a new era" but there was more continuity than change, with eight of the side that lost by ten wickets in Grenada in England's most recent Test selected and the three absentees - Dan Lawrence, Chris Woakes and Saqib Mahmood - all ruled out by injury.
Jonny Bairstow is included despite his involvement in the Indian Premier League - his Punjab Kings side are mathematically still in contention for the playoffs but play their final group game on Sunday - and looks set to bat at No. 5. Zak Crawley and Alex Lees will open the batting while Ben Foakes is likely to keep wicket at No. 7.
With Joe Root and Ben Stokes confirmed to bat at No. 4 and No. 6 respectively, Ollie Pope has been inked in for a promotion to No. 3 - a position in which he has never batted in first-class cricket. However, Key insisted he had no concerns about Pope's suitability for a role that Root had filled with success in the Caribbean with two centuries in the three Tests.
"If you ask who is the best 1-11, you'd probably put Joe Root down as all of those," Key said. "After that we feel Ollie Pope is the man. With a lot of these guys, the bet is that with the talent they have, in this environment and these coaches, Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes will get the best out of one of our most talented cricketers. Ollie Pope is one of those if we can unlock him, which I think they can. I think he can be a seriously good Test cricketer. I think he'll do a fine job."
Lawrence has not played for a month due to a hamstring complaint and has been left out of the squad, while Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan are among the recently capped top-order batters to miss out.
There is no room for Ollie Robinson in the squad, who has struggled with injury and illness in the early stages of the season, while Woakes, Mahmood, Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Matthew Fisher and Olly Stone are among the seamers unavailable through injury.
Craig Overton keeps his place ahead of his twin brother Jamie, who has impressed for Surrey in the County Championship, while Jack Leach retains his position as England's main spinner despite Matt Parkinson's eye-catching returns for Lancashire.
Key chaired the interim selection panel, with Brendon McCullum, England's new head coach, providing inputs along with Stokes, ECB performance director Mo Bobat, player identification lead David Court and head scout James Taylor.
"This is the start of a new era for our Test team under the stewardship of Ben [Stokes] and Brendon [McCullum]," Key said. "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 mouthwatering 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."
Brook, the Yorkshire batter, is the leading run-scorer in Division One of the Championship this year with 758 runs in eight innings at a remarkable average of 151.60. He has made three hundreds, and his innings of 41 against Lancashire last week was the first time this season he has failed to reach a half-century.
Brook made his England T20I debut earlier this year in Barbados and was the PCA's Young Player of the Year for 2021 after a stunning breakthrough summer in white-ball cricket, but appears to be the 'spare' batter in this squad.
Potts, the Durham seamer, has also enjoyed a bright start to the Championship season. He has taken 35 wickets at 18.57 across his first six games, 11 more than anyone else in the country, and has impressed his county team-mate Stokes with his ability to sustain his pace across spells.
"He's been involved in the [ECB] pathway, so people like Mo Bobat understand his character, and that's the one thing that really stood out when people are talking about him," Key said. "You see the way he runs in, if you're facing him, you're in a proper contest. They are the pics I get really excited about. Out of the injury problem that we've got at the moment, some good will come out of that, and it may be him."
Anderson and Broad's recalls after their shock omissions for the tour of the Caribbean come as no surprise: Key revealed at his unveiling that Stokes had pushed for them to return to the squad and the length of England's injury list leaves them as the only fully-fit seamers with central contracts. At the age of 39 and 35 respectively, Key added that there were no qualms about testing those fitness levels to the max.
"I don't think their workload will be managed actually," Key said. "I think we're just going to try and pick the best team we possibly can to try and win the game. We will try and get the most out of James Anderson and Stuart Broad that we possibly can.
"I'd rather have them in the side, trying to win games of cricket for England than prolonging their careers for a long time where they can't impact as much as possible. I think we'll try and make the most of them while we've still got them."
Players in the squad will be available for selection in this week's round of Championship fixtures which start on Thursday. The squad will come together in a camp at Loughborough next week before travelling to London on May 29 before the first Test on June 2.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98