On Tuesday, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced their 15-man squad for the two-match Test series against New Zealand scheduled to start at Lord’s from June 2.
England excluded a few players – Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler – who had participated in the fourteenth edition of the stalled Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 to give them proper rest after their quarantine period.
Eminent cricketers like Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer were also snubbed due to their injuries. While Stokes wounded his finger during the cash-rich league, Archer’s elbow injury resurfaced while representing Sussex in the County Championship.
Two new faces, namely wicket-keeper batsman James Bracey and pacer Ollie Robinson have earned their maiden call-ups to the Test squad backed by good performances in the County Championship for Gloucestershire and Sussex, respectively.
In an official statement, England’s head coach Chris Silverwood pointed out that playing against the Black Caps followed by a five-match Test series against India will be the perfect preparation for their Ashes Tour later this year.
“The summer of Test cricket will be fascinating. Playing the top two teams in the world, in New Zealand and India, is perfect preparation for us as we continue to improve and progress towards an Ashes series in Australia at the back end of the year,” Silverwood was quoted as saying by ecb.co.uk.
Considering the absence of key players from the squad, Silverwood asserted that this would be a perfect opportunity for new players to don the English cap and represent their country.
“With several players not available through injury or being rested for the New Zealand series, it is an opportunity for us to reward those who have been on the fringes of England squads over the past 12 months. James Bracey and Ollie Robinson deserve their call ups to the Test squad. They have been consistent performers in the County Championship this season and over the past 18 months, have excelled for the Lions on the field and in the various camps they have been involved in,” the 46-year-old reckoned.
England squad for two-Test series against New Zealand:
Joe Root (c), Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Dom Sibley, Dan Lawrence, Ollie Pope, James Bracey, Ben Foakes, Craig Overton, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Mark Wood, Jack Leach, Olly Stone, Ollie Robinson.