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UNCAPPED duo Harry Brook and Matthew Potts have been called up for the first Test of England’s new era, but Matt Parkinson must 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 after director of men’s cricket Rob Key convened a selection panel alongside recently appointed captain Ben Stokes and incoming head coach Brendon McCullum.
It is a largely familiar group, featuring 10 players who toured the West Indies in March plus the returning duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
Lancashire leg-spinner Parkinson has been the leading slow bowler in the country this season, taking 23 Division One wickets in four games on batting-friendly pitches, but his hopes of graduating from the fringes to the first XI have been dashed, with Jack Leach favoured.
But the efforts of two rising stars of the domestic scene have been recognised.
Yorkshire batter Brook has been rewarded for a prolific start in this season’s County Championship, in 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.
England are missing the likes of Mark Wood, Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes, Olly Stone, Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Fisher, but Key believes the Sunderland seamer can make the most of the opening.
“You see the way he runs in, the way that it looks like if you’re facing him, you’re in a proper contest. These are the picks I get really excited about,” he said.
While the portents are good for Potts to debut at Lord’s on June 2, Brook may find himself edged out of the XI.
With Ollie Pope set for a risky promotion to number three, Joe Root fixed at number four and Stokes opting for a spot at six, there is only one middle-order berth up for grabs, and provided he returns from the Indian Premier League ready for the rigours of Test cricket, that will go to Jonny Bairstow.
Key, meanwhile, made a point of showing faith in Pope. A dominant performer for Surrey over several years, he has struggled to impose himself over the course of 23 mostly underwhelming Tests and was reduced to 12th-man duties in the Caribbean.
“I think he can be a seriously good Test cricketer. He has a technique and temperament, but it’s down to us really to get the best out of him,” he said.
Elsewhere, England have kept faith with openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley as well as retaining Craig Overton and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes for what should be his first home Test.
Key said today that he wants Paul Collingwood to remain part of the England coaching set-up, despite plumping for Australia’s Matthew Mott to oversee the men’s white-ball teams.
Collingwood led Test and limited-overs expeditions to the West Indies this winter, but Mott was the preferred candidate to share head coaching duties alongside ex-New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum.
Key admitted he would have favoured hiring two English coaches after splitting red and white-ball positions following Chris Silverwood’s sacking but insisted that was not the primary consideration.
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