February 1, 2023



England cricket call up 18 bowlers as preparation for Tests in July | Sport

2 min read

Amar Virdi, Surrey’s title-winning off-spinner, and the promising Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson are among the 18 bowlers who will begin individual training sessions from Thursday in anticipation of England staging an international summer.

While not a squad per se, England are expected to call on a group of up to 30 players for the six biosecure Tests they intend to stage behind closed doors against West Indies and Pakistan from 8 July, subject to clearance from the government.

Although the selectors are curiously holding off from naming this pool of players until next week – as well as a separate white-ball group – the bowlers will start their work at seven grounds: Chester-le-Street, Edgbaston, Hove, Old Trafford, Taunton, the Oval and Trent Bridge.

Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes and the fit-again Jofra Archer are among the established names in the 18, but there are berths for some uncapped players too, with Virdi and Robinson known to be among them.

Virdi, 21, was the first-choice spinner when Surrey won the County Championship in 2018 and has a reputation for extracting a lot of turn, while Robinson, a 26-year-old right-arm seamer, has taken 236 first-class wickets at 22 runs apiece, including seven in the match when England Lions beat Australia A at the MCG in February.

In training

England bowlers (possible)

Mark Wood, Ben Stokes (both Durham); Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire); Ollie Robinson, Jofra Archer (both Sussex); Chris Woakes, Olly Stone (both Warwickshire), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire, but will train at Edgbaston); Jamie Overton, Craig Overton, Dom Bess, Jack Leach, Lewis Gregory (all Somerset); James Anderson, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson (all Lancashire), Sam Curran, Amar Virdi (both Surrey).

It will not feel like an international call-up for the pair at first, however, with the one-on-one coaching sessions subject to temperature checks and strict physical distancing and hygiene measures, as well as being staggered to ensure no crossover.

Players will be assigned their own set of cricket balls and prevented from applying saliva or sweat to them, while they must keep two metres from the coach and physio in attendance and wipe down all equipment with disinfectant after use.

England’s batsmen and wicketkeepers are due to begin their individual sessions from 1 June before the squad is allowed to start training in small groups under phase two of the plan to allow international cricket to be played this summer.

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