Things we learned from Chris Silverwood’s England squad selection for NZ series

England head coach Chris Silverwood has named his first squad since taking over selection duties from the departed Ed Smith.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key points ahead of the Test series against New Zealand.

County counts

Craig Overton has been handed an England recall after some eye-catching county form.
Craig Overton has been handed an England recall after some eye-catching county form (Steven Paston/PA)

Plenty is said about the leap between Test cricket and the LV= Insurance County Championship but the inclusion of Ollie Robinson and Craig Overton shows that England continue to pay plenty of attention to the domestic game. The duo have been the stand-out seamers on the circuit for the last two or three years and have elbowed their way to the front of the queue through sheer weight of numbers. Robinson has honed his craft at Hove and Overton, who earned the last of his four caps in 2019, now looks an improved prospect after growing his role with Somerset.

IPL and injury challenges England’s depth chart

Stokes, Archer, Woakes, Buttler, Bairstow, S Curran, Ali

Ben Stokes’ broken finger has left a sizeable hole in the heart of the England side – one that is only exaggerated by the absence of Jofra Archer from the pace attack. With Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran and Moeen Ali not being considered following their abrupt return from the India Premier League, England are going in without plenty of big names. While the circumstances are not ideal, a stock take of resources is perhaps no bad thing ahead of another jam-packed year culminating in the Ashes.

Leach has long-term backing

Jack Leach has strengthened his hold on the spinner's role.
Jack Leach has strengthened his hold on the spinner’s role (Stu Forster/Pool)

England wore some bruising blows during their winter tour of India but one clear positive to come from the trip was the growth in Jack Leach. Previously best renowned for his role as Stokes’ tail-end sidekick in the Ashes miracle at Headingley, his left-arm spin proved a reliable and resilient option and confirmed him as the country’s number-one slow bowler in red-ball cricket. The absence of a second spinner in this squad is a show of full faith.

Bubble life a boost for Bracey

James Bracey training with England in Sri Lanka.
James Bracey training with England in Sri Lanka (James Bracey/PA)

Gloucestershire’s uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman James Bracey has spent much of the past year travelling and training with the England side at home and abroad. In that time he has impressed the coaching staff with his attitude and cemented his position as ‘next cab off the rank’ with the chance to put pressure on the top order. In the pre-pandemic days, Bracey would never have had such extended exposure to the elite set-up.

A fresh start for Pope?

Surrey v Hampshire – LV= Insurance County Championship – Day Two – Kia Oval
England are invested heavily in Surrey’s Ollie Pope (Adam Davy/PA)

After 17 Tests the enormous promise of Surrey’s Ollie Pope has yet to translate into similarly lofty results. He averages a tick under 32, with one century from 28 innings and looked thoroughly outmatched in Indian conditions in the previous series. But make no mistake, England are invested heavily in the 23-year-old. After a troublesome shoulder injury and trial by spin over the winter, he has the chance to turn over a new page in home conditions. He already has a double hundred against Leicestershire this season but could do with handy runs against the Kiwis before the return visit of India.