|Venue: Cardiff Time: 13:00 BST Date: Thursday, 8 July|
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After their Covid outbreak, England took the unprecedented step of naming an entirely new 18-man squad for their one-day series against Pakistan, just two days before the first match.
Ben Stokes will captain a side that could feature up to nine debutants, while there are a host of players given a dramatic chance to represent their country again when the three-match series starts on Thursday.
“It is a really exciting time for them as individuals and an exciting time for the public,” Stokes said.
The new faces
Six of the squad have never played an international before.
The best-known of those is Sussex’s Phil Salt, a 24-year-old destructive opening batter who has been in previous England squads and has played in the Big Bash, Pakistan Super League and Caribbean Premier League.
Will Jacks, 22, is another exciting, aggressive batter. He scored a 25-ball hundred for Surrey in a pre-season game and hit 87 in the T20 Blast against Kent last week. Jacks also bowls useful off-spin.
Aged 32, John Simpson is an experienced wicketkeeper-batter, called up on the back of a number of solid seasons for Middlesex across all formats.
He is joined in the squad by county team-mate Tom Helm, a 27-year-old fast bowler who was part of an enlarged England squad that toured South Africa before Christmas but did not play.
South Africa-born Brydon Carse, 25, is selected despite his modest 50-over record. He has bowled at lively pace for Durham, impressed on a Lions tour of Australia last year and was described by Stokes as having “X-Factor that every team wishes they had”.
Gloucestershire’s David Payne, 30, another who has more than 10 years experience in the county game, provides a left-arm seam bowling option.
The familiar names
There are three more players uncapped at ODI level in England’s squad but each will be familiar from other formats.
Zak Crawley, 23, has the chance to find some form after his torrid time in last month’s Test series against New Zealand, during which he notched scores of nought, two, two and 17.
His brilliant 267 in the third Test against Pakistan last summer may seem a long time ago but showed he has the shots for white-ball cricket.
Another making the move from the Test side is Dan Lawrence. His red-ball record is far better than white but in his seven-Test career the Essex batter has hinted at having the game for one-day cricket.
Somerset all-rounder Lewis Gregory, who is yet to deliver a stand-out performance in his eight T20s for England, also gets a chance.
The big opportunities
As well as debutants, this squad now provides unexpected opportunities to players who have been on the fringes of England ODI squads, and those who may have thought an international appearance may never come again.
Left-arm spinner Danny Briggs played his only ODI in 2012 while the last of his seven T20 appearances came in 2014.
Nottinghamshire batter Ben Duckett hit two fifties in his three ODIs against Bangladesh in 2016 but has only played once for England once since he was suspended for pouring a drink over James Anderson in a Perth bar.
Seamer Jake Ball, now aged 30, will be another keen to add more England appearances. He has been consistent for Notts since winning the last of his 24 England caps in 2018 and was the leading wicket-taker in last year’s Blast.
Arguably the player with the most to gain is Matt Parkinson, the Lancashire leg-spinner. He spent the winter carrying the drinks around India and Sri Lanka only to be left out of the original squad to face Pakistan.
All-rounder Craig Overton, who has one ODI cap to his name, looks more likely to feature in England’s Test plans going forward but has an opportunity to push his way up the pecking order.
And could this series finally, finally, be the one James Vince delivers on his huge potential in what could be an unexpected last chance?
The ‘experienced’ names
All of that leaves Stokes, rushed in to captain the side, with a mix of players to choose from.
England’s superstar all-rounder was originally rested for this series and was recovering from a broken finger playing for Durham. His comeback performances have been solid but not spectacular.
A lot will fall on the shoulders of Dawid Malan, who will hope to transfer his incredible T20 international record into the 50-over game and be an experienced head in the batting line-up.
Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood, with four ODI and six T20 caps to his name, looks the likely leader of the bowling attack. He would have been in the original squad but for injury.
“I am not going to put too much pressure on myself or on the guys that will be playing,” Stokes said.
“We will just get through it how we do and I just want to make sure everyone has had a good time.”
Article courtesy of BBC Sport