There will be a new fast bowler to go with a new captain and new coach when English cricket's Test team launches its new era on Thursday. Matthew Potts will make his international debut in any format after being selected in the team to play New Zealand at Lord's in the first Test. (More Cricket News)
“This kid is ready,” said Ben Stokes, England's recently appointed captain who plays alongside Potts at county side Durham. Stokes pointed to a spell of bowling Potts produced in a County Championship game against Glamorgan last month — when he led the team to victory with final-day figures of 7-40 — as a example of both his ability and attitude.
“He turned up on Day 4 with a bit of a stiff side,” Stokes said, ‘and some in his situation, with test selection coming round the corner and bowling as well as he has, could have just sat down and said, 'No, I'm going to look after myself.'
“But he didn't. He ran in and won the game for Durham. That's the attitude that sets you up for the next level.” Keeping Potts company will be a couple of old stalwarts, showing the new era — with England coached by New Zealander Brendon McCullum — can still hark back to the past.
James Anderson, 35, and Stuart Broad, 39 — the most prolific wicket-takers in English test history — were selected in the lineup announced Wednesday after being dropped for the recent tour of the West Indies.
They are back at the first time of asking under McCullum and Stokes, who said the visit of the Black Caps marks a "clean start" for an England team on a run of just one win in its last 17 Tests. “This is our time and we are going to dictate how things go, going forward," the all-rounder said.
“There's nothing on this blank canvas yet. Everyone's starting fresh now, whether you are Matty Potts or whether you are James Anderson and Stuart Broad.” England are without a slew of pace bowlers due to injury, with Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, Olly Stone, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Fisher among those sidelined.
That created space for Potts to fill, with the pacer picked ahead of Craig Overton. As Stokes suggested, domestic form has proved crucial to Potts' elevation — he has taken 35 wickets in his first six county championship matches for Durham this year.
Jonny Bairstow was selected at No. 5, meaning in-form Yorkshire batter Harry Brook must wait for his test debut. Joe Root dropped down to No. 4 to accommodate Ollie Pope at No. 3.
New Zealand, the reigning world test champion, has yet to select its team to take on an opponent led by McCullum, one of the Black Caps' great players.
“We are good mates, he is mates with a lot of the guys, and there is a lot of history there," New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said, "but for us, it's about focusing on what we want to do.” Williamson expects McCullum to be a success with England.
“It's a great opportunity for Brendon — he's such a positive guy and an amazing leader, as well. He does tend to have a strong impact wherever he goes and clearly the English setup have seen some strong qualities in him they want as a part of their setup. It's exciting.”