Durham’s Matthew Potts is pushing for a first test call next week as the newly formed England triumvirate of Rob Key, Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes start with a worrying shortage of couture bowlers.
Of the 11 front row players selected over the past two years, only four are in the current round of the County Championship, the last before selection for the first Test against New Zealand on June 2. Ollie Robinson, among them, won just one for Sussex against Leicestershire.
Robinson’s stomach complaint after just one outing so far and a winter of fitness issues plus no sign of Chris Woakes yet due to shoulder and knee issues opened the door for Potts, the leading wicket taker this season with 28 kills. A four-for-61 fee against Glamorgan on Friday, he is now being considered for an upgrade after reserve status during the recent Caribbean tour.
Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, frozen from that trip, will be back at Stokes’ request and like Craig Overton, who has struggled with the new ball in their absence, play this week. However, Saqib Mahmood misses the Roses game with a stiff back and played just once for Lancashire in April.
Mahmood’s scans are clear but Jofra Archer and Mark Wood must first return from elbow injuries in white-ball cricket; so, too, is Olly Stone after his lower back stress fracture. Sam Curran is at the foot of a return of the same number and Matt Fisher, a debutant in Barbados, is out with a “stress reaction” on his back.
Potts, tipped for higher honors by Stokes last week and with three five-wicket runs in a booming summer, looks the likely beneficiary. Surrey beat Jamie Overton will also be discussed when newly hired Key, McCullum and Stokes – along with performance director Mo Bobat and head scout James Taylor – meet.