Ben Jones of CricViz analyses the credentials of Jason Roy, Olly Stone and Lewis Gregory – three potential England Test debutants who could feature against Ireland in the one-off Test starting on July 24.
After a suitable time for sore heads to recover following England’s victorious World Cup weekend, Ed Smith announced the squad for England’s four-day Test match against Ireland next week.
With many of the players from that World Cup squad rested, some new faces have been called up, with the three uncapped players – Jason Roy, Lewis Gregory and Olly Stone – set to make their debuts at Lord’s on Wednesday.
The most high-profile of England’s new boys, Jason Roy, arrives in the Test squad off the back of a victorious World Cup campaign where he starred at the top of the order. Given his impressive form in 50-over cricket for a long time now – an average of 56 and a scoring rate of 7 runs per over (rpo) in the last year – it was always only a matter of time before he was given a chance in England’s most troublesome position.
Some have questioned Roy’s suitability for red-ball batting, and in some respects they are well-founded concerns. Whilst Roy has opened the batting in 142 List A matches, he’s only done so in first-class cricket in 15 matches, and at a modest average of 31.65.
However, in recent times Roy has stepped up his red ball form. His Surrey captain Rory Burns, a man with a deserved reputation for churning out runs, averages 51.77 in the last three Championship seasons; Roy, not blessed with such a reputation, has averaged 50.33 in that time, albeit from significantly fewer innings.
If he is intended to introduce some oomph to the top of the order and replicate his role from the ODI side, then he looks well set to do so. Very few players in recent Championship seasons have been able to match his scoring rate, whilst maintaining a healthy average.
It seems likely he’ll play. If England’s coaching staff wanted to give him a rest following his World Cup exertions, he’d have been left out of the squad. This is clearly an opportunity to blood him into the Test side away from the bright lights of the Ashes, and give him a comparatively easier way into the longest form of the game.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) June 21, 2019
Pace is very en vogue in English cricket right now, after Mark Wood’s excellent West Indies tour was backed up by a top-class World Cup performance from the Durham quick and Jofra Archer. It makes sense that, with that pace duo resting up ahead of the Australia series, England’s selectors have turned to the next fastest man in England, Warwickshire’s Olly Stone.
Called into the ODI squad for the tour of Sri Lanka last winter, Stone played four ODIs with the clear message that he was England’s X-Factor, able to bowl extremely quickly and add an extra element to their attack. Removing Niroshan Dickwella in his second international over was a very promising start, but he failed to take a wicket in the remainder of the tour. Regardless, he would probably have travelled to the West Indies in January had he not suffered a stress fracture.
In terms of selection, Stone has a few things on his side. He doesn’t tend to take the new ball for his county side, meaning that he could easily slot in as the first change seamer in a side with Woakes and Broad taking the new ball. He tends to come on first or second change, which means he would arguably slot into England’s pace attack a bit more easily as a result.
He also offers something different to the others in the squad to face Ireland, comfortably quicker than the other options – Trevor Bayliss may feel that his extra pace could add variety to the attack. Stone has the added benefit of previous success against members of the Ireland squad, having dismissed Barry McCarthy and Stuart Poynter in Championship cricket.
Somerset all-rounder Lewis Gregory is the only one of England’s potential debutants who’s yet to play an international match. A swing bowler who is more than capable with the bat, Gregory has been putting up very impressive Championship numbers for the past few seasons. A bowling average of just under 20 and a batting average of just under 25 is a combined record that stands among the best in county cricket.
In terms of his role going into the summer, not just for next week’s match, you would say that England see Gregory as a back-up to Woakes; the Somerset man bats at No.7 for his county, suggesting that a No.8 berth in Test cricket could be his natural position.
Gregory does take the new ball for Somerset, which might be something to consider for England’s coaches, who will be eager to take no chances with James Anderson’s tentative fitness, and would ideally have plenty of back-up for him within the XI. Gregory is unlikely to dislodge the senior trio of Woakes, Anderson, and Broad, but if asked to do so he could perform the role.
Possible England XI to face Ireland: