An inexperienced England are facing a huge test as they have been forced to name a brand new 18-man squad after a Covid-19 outbreak forced the initial squad into isolation. Now Ben Stokes will lead a side full of uncapped talent who will be battling with everything they have in order to prove themselves on the international stage.
Incredibly, six of the eighteen selected have never even played an international match before. The oldest of the lot is John Simpson (pictured above, right), who at 32 may just sound like a regular down your local but he has impressed for Middlesex in all formats for the last five years.
The biggest call-up is handed to Phil Salt who could make a name for himself in an England shirt. He has the experience of playing in the Big Bash, the Pakistan Super League and the Caribbean Premier League and he is not frightened to let his shots go with the bat in hand. At 24, he still has a long career ahead of him and this opportunity could be just what is needed to elevate him to the next level.
Surrey’s Will Jacks can bowl off-spin but at 22 is another aggressive batter who could shine and is in good form, having hit 87 in the T20 Blast last week while Durham’s Brydon Carse is also included having impressed on a Lions tour last year.
Tom Helm is Simpson’s teammate at Middlesex and is a fast bowler who has been chasing an England cap for a while and David Payne provides a left-arm option for Stokes to call open.
Zak Crawley had a nightmare in the recent Test series against New Zealand where he amassed just 19 runs over four innings but will be hoping to take the shackles off as he makes his ODI debut. Dan Lawrence is also joining Crawley in making his white ball debut having done well in the Test side and the Essex man has stated in the past his attacking style is suited to the shorter match.
One man who has played eight T20s for England but could now make his one-day debut is Lewis Gregory. The Somerset all-rounder provides an intriguing option for Stokes, who is stepping up the captaincy role when his country needs him.
There is some experience aside from Stokes in this side, with the man himself expecting to be rested for this one before the Covid-19 outbreak. Dawid Malan will have to play a big role amidst an obviously inexperienced batting line-up if England are to be successful, while Saqib Mahmood looks likely to lead the bowling attack.
Opportunity knocks for the likes of Jake Ball, Danny Briggs, Ben Duckett and Craig Overton, while Matt Parkinson looks to have a lot to gain as he was left disappointed to be left out of the initial squad.
The big question mark lies over James Vince. It looked like the 30-year-old was never going to be given the chance to fulfil his potential but now he has been handed what could be one last unexpected opportunity. It is now or never for him to deliver on the international stage yet the feeling is that it will be one of the other names on the edge who will thrust themselves into the first team picture.