ENG vs NZ: England to announce Test squad next week; availability of IPL players uncertain- Chris Silverwood will make first use of his new responsibilities for selection early next week as he names the England squad for the opening Test match assignment of the summer against New Zealand.
Silverwood will confirm the squad for the two Tests against New Zealand, the first of which begins at Lord’s on June 2, on Tuesday (May 18). It has not yet been confirmed how many players will be named in the party but the ECB are keen to avoid a large number of reserves having to live within the confines of a bio-secure bubble without playing as was the case last summer. Even so, it is likely to be a larger squad than the traditional 13-man group.
Despite England’s IPL players being back in the country and, in theory at least, available for that first Test, there are suggestions that Silverwood could stick to the original plan and include a number of new faces to give them some experience ahead of a busy 12 months.
ENG vs NZ: England to announce Test squad next week- That means the likes of uncapped Sussex fast-bowler Ollie Robinson and Gloucestershire wicket-keeper batsman James Bracey are likely to be included. Essex batsman Dan Lawrence, who made a decent start to his Test career during the winter, is also set to be picked while Ben Foakes may continue to wear the gloves after deputising for Jos Buttler in the final three matches of the India series.
It remains to be seen whether Buttler, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran are included. The trio, all of whom have red-ball contracts, have been in a 10-day hotel quarantine since they arrived back in England from India after the postponement of the IPL. They are set to leave their hotels at midnight on Saturday (May 15) and would then just have a few days to prepare for the next round of Championship matches which begin next Thursday.
As bowlers, that may be too short a turnaround for Woakes and Curran in particular. Each of the players who have been in quarantine have only been allowed 30 minutes of outside exercise per day at their hotels and England’s management will not want to risk injury by rushing the players back.
Opener Dom Sibley looks set for some match practice, though. He is likely to play in Warwickshire’s second team match against Northamptonshire beginning on Monday ahead of a possible return to Championship action against Essex at Chelmsford later in the week. He has not played since mid-April after he broke a finger in the field against Nottinghamshire.
ENG vs NZ: England to announce Test squad next week- Jofra Archer is another player who seems to be winning his fitness battle after being ruled out of the IPL to manage an elbow injury. He is currently playing for Sussex against Kent and took 2-29 from 13 overs, including the wicket of his England teammate Zak Crawley, on the first day.
One player who definitely won’t be included in the Test squad is Ben Stokes who fractured his left index finger in the opening match of the IPL, catching Chris Gayle. The initial prognosis was that Stokes would be out for three months from the time of injury but, writing in his column for the Daily Mirror, the all-rounder said he hopes to be back within “seven, eight or nine” weeks. Either way, he will certainly miss the two Tests against New Zealand.
ENG vs NZ: England to announce Test squad next week-Meanwhile, Silverwood has confirmed that he will take a break during the six back-to-back ODIs against Sri Lanka and Pakistan which begin in the middle of June. His assistant coaches Paul Collingwood and Graham Thorpe will take charge for one of those series each. Silverwood will, however, be in place for both the three-match T20I series against the same opponents which take place at either end of the six ODIs.