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International Cricket - Cricket: England call for Brook and Potts

The first England Test squad under new coach Brendon McCullum and new captain Ben Stokes has been named, with two new faces included to face New Zealand.

Yorkshire batter Harry Brook and Durham bowler Matthew Potts have been selected for the first time, as England look to start a new era with a successful summer.

It's a three-Test series against the Black Caps, which begins with the first Test at Lord’s on 2nd June.

Trent Bridge is the venue for the second Test, which commences on 10th June, while the third and final clash is at Headingley from 23rd June.

Brook offers needed batting depth

There’s no doubt England's red-ball batting line-up has been the side’s biggest issue over the last five years and Brook is the latest addition to try and resolve those problems.

The Yorkshireman is the leading run-scorer in Division One of the County Championship, with 758 runs to his name in 18 innings to date – that record includes three centuries and losing another key player will be a blow to the title hopes of the Tykes, who are currently 13/2 to win the Championship.

Brook, who made his international T20 cricket debut in the winter, is one of three Yorkshire batters in the squad, with former captain Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow also selected. If the 23-year-old is to feature, he appears likely to bat at five.

Stokes has already confirmed that Root will once again bat in his favourite position at four, so the selectors now face key decisions as to who bats around the ex-skipper and current captain.

Alex Lees and Zak Crawley are expected to open, with either Bairstow or Ollie Pope set to bat at the troublesome number three position.

England’s lack of pace a concern

It's no surprise to see James Anderson and Stuart Broad back as England bowling options after their strange omission for the West Indies tour, and the experienced duo remain key in home conditions.

The lack of real pace though is evident, mainly due to injuries to the likes of Jofra Archer and Ollie Robinson, so Durham seamer Potts gets his chance.

He has 35 wickets in the first six County Championship matches of the season, more than anyone else in England, and playing for Stokes' county means that the captain has seen his progression at close quarters.

Elsewhere, Craig Overton – who has 21 wickets in his eight previous Tests - keeps his place in the 13-man squad while Stokes offers the other seam option.

England have pinned their spin hopes on Jack Leach, who is set to make his 23rd Test appearance against the team he made his debut against back in 2018.

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Injuries continue to hamper England’s plans

As disappointing as England have been in the red-ball format, some of that can be put down to key absentees and a lengthy injury list.

Major pace weapon Archer hasn't played a Test match since February 2021 due to a long-term elbow issue, while Robinson has been hampered by both injury and illness so far this season.

Add to that no fewer than seven other seamer absentees - Dan Lawrence, Chris Woakes, Saqib Mahmood, Sam Curran, Mark Wood, Matthew Fisher and Olly Stone – and it highlights some of the issues they have faced.

Meanwhile, four recent batting options have all been left out of the squad, with no place for Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan.

This series will be the start of England's plan to build again for the 2023 Ashes, with Stokes' men 13/8 to win back the urn next year.

Announcing the latest squad, Rob Key – the new managing director of men's cricket – stated: "With a blend of youth and experience, we have selected an exciting squad that can compete with New Zealand in next month's Test series.

"We have rewarded players in Harry Brook and Matty Potts who have had outstanding starts to the county season, and they deserve the opportunity to stake a claim at this level."

England squad: Ben Stokes (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes (wicket-keeper), Jack Leach, Alex Lees, Craig Overton, Matthew Potts, Ollie Pope, Joe Root.

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