England are expected to bring in some new faces for the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi.
Ben Stokes is leading his side to their first Test round in Pakistan since 2005, following a summer that saw England win six out of seven Tests.
Keaton Jennings, Liam Livingstone and Will Jacks are included in the teamwith Ben Duckett and Harry Brook retaining their places.
teenage feeling Rehan Ahmed was also a late addition as England strengthened their shadowing options.
Ahead of Thursday’s first Test, shown live on Sky Sports from 4.30am, we look at England’s selection dilemmas.
England test squad for Pakistan series
Ben Stokes (captain), Rehan Ahmed, James Anderson, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, Will Jacks, Keaton Jennings, Jack Leach, Liam Livingstone, Jamie Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Mark Wood
Duckett to open with Crawley?
Questions remain over who Zak Crawley will partner with after Alex Lees falls, but it looks likely England will give Duckett another chance.
The 28-year-old started in the recent warm-up match against the Lions in Abu Dhabi and has already impressed the Lions, scoring 145 against South Africa in August.
Duckett made four Test appearances for England in the subcontinent in 2016, scoring 110 runs at an average of 15.71.
The southpaw scored almost 8,000 points in 119 Premier League games and amassed 1,012 points for Nottinghamshire in 2022 to help his side win promotion to Division One of the County Championship.
Duckett is renowned in white ball cricket as an excellent spin player and England are hoping he can settle into the top tier of red ball cricket.
Matches between Pakistan and England
- First test, Rawalpindi (1-5 December) – 5am start, ramp up from 4.30am on Sky Sports Cricket
- Second test, Multan (9-13 December) – 5am start, ramp up from 4.30am on Sky Sports Cricket
- Third test, Karachi (December 17-21) – 5am start, ramp up from 4.30am on Sky Sports Cricket
Brook to replace Bairstow?
Further down the batting line-up, England are missing out on Jonny Bairstow’s experience at No. 5. The 33-year-old was the best performer of the summer but his year ended prematurely when he broke his leg on a golf course.
This presented Brook with the opportunity to claim a middle position, with the Yorkshireman scoring 12 points in his only run in the final Test of the summer at home to South Africa.
With over 3,000 top-class runs, Brook has been named as the next all-format player for England. He was in impressive form for Yorkshire in the County Championship this year, scoring 967 with an average of 107.44 – the best average in the Premier League.
Brook will almost certainly get a run against Pakistan and hold out hope of battling Bairstow for the long-term No. 5 spot when the latter is fit again in 2023.
Who will be the second spinner?
Pitches in Pakistan are expected to be flat and could favor spin, so England are ready to field a second spinner alongside Jack Leach, with Livingstone, Jacks and Ahmed the options.
Livingstone is the favourite. The 29-year-old brings a wealth of white-ball experience to the team and has impressed in red-ball games for Lancashire with bat and ball, although he hasn’t played a first-class game since September 2021.
Livingstone has a top-class 43 wickets and his ability to spin and twist the legs will come in handy against Pakistan, when he could also be a destructive force in order with the bat.
Jacks looks likely to miss and will have to wait his turn, but would be next if Leach or Livingstone don’t perform or are injured.
Ahmed is an interesting addition. Managing director Rob Key has indicated that England are keen to step up their development and his inclusion in the squad is expected to support that.
The 18-year-old has taken nine wickets in his three Premier League games so far and is highly rated, so England could pull off a surprise and offer the 18-year-old a start to test his mettle.
England’s scheduled starting XI against Pakistan
Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (captain), Liam Livingstone, Ben Foakes (wicket keeper), Ollie Robinson/Jamie Overton, Jack Leach, James Anderson
Watch England’s three Test series in Pakistan live on Sky Sports Cricket. Coverage of the opening match begins at 4:30 a.m. Thursday before a 5 a.m. start in Rawalpindi.