England’s Test captain, Ben Stokes, has introduced three promising players into the squad for the five-match series against India, set to begin next month. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has given maiden call-ups to the exciting trio, featuring fast bowler Gus Atkinson and spinners Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir. With the aim of securing their first Test series win in India since 2012, Stokes and the team are gearing up for a challenging tour.
Atkinson, a 25-year-old fast bowler, has been making waves in English cricket, impressing with his performance in Surrey’s successful County title defense. Having played nine ODIs and two T20Is, Atkinson is anticipated to make his Test debut in the upcoming series, especially considering the traditionally pace-friendly conditions at venues like the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Vizag, and Dharamsala.
On the spin front, the squad sees the inclusion of two relatively lesser-known players, 24-year-old Hartley and 19-year-old Bashir. Bashir, a right-arm off-break bowler, showcased his talent by claiming 10 wickets in six games for Somerset, while Hartley, standing at an imposing 6 feet 4 inches, brings his experience of taking 40 wickets at an average of 36.57 for Lancashire. The strategic selection of these spinners aligns with the historical discomfort of Indian batters against unfamiliar bowling styles, especially spin.
Rehan Ahmed, a 19-year-old leg-spinner, is also making a comeback to the squad, marked by his impressive five-wicket haul against Pakistan in December 2022, establishing him as England’s youngest-ever Test debutant.
The squad also sees the return of wicketkeeper-batter Ben Woakes, left-arm spinner Jack Leach, and Ollie Pope after recovering from their respective injuries. Noteworthy exclusions include Chris Woakes, Dan Lawrence, Liam Dawson, and Will Jacks.
The fast-bowling unit comprises the experienced trio of James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, and Mark Wood. The team will kick off preparations for the challenging tour with a short camp in the UAE about 15 days before the commencement of the first Test.
England Test Squad:
Rehan Ahmed, James Anderson, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Shoaib Bashir, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, Tom Hartley, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Ben Stokes (captain), Mark Wood