England’s Test summer begins on June 2 at Lord’s against New Zealand – here’s a look at how the hosts’ battery of pace-bowling options are faring ahead of the two-match Test series.
A minor calf problem delayed Anderson’s start to the summer, with his first game of the season coming against Glamorgan this week. Test cricket’s most prolific quick enjoyed a strong start for Lancashire at Old Trafford, taking the prized wicket of Marnus Labuschagne on his way to first-innings figures of 3-40 off 24 overs. Should he stay fit, it’ll be a surprise to not see him take the new ball against the Black Caps.
Anderson’s partner in crime has delivered for Nottinghamshire in the early rounds of the County Championship, notably taking six wickets in the match as the Trent Bridge side beat Derbyshire to win their first first-class match since June 2018. After Broad was left out of England’s first Test of last summer, he went on to take 29 wickets against West Indies and Pakistan at an average of 13.41. The case for him to line up alongside Anderson at Lord’s is undeniably strong.
Surgery on his hand and an elbow problem ruled Archer out of the IPL and while he’s returned to action with Sussex’s Second XI, his availability for the New Zealand series remains clouded. A County Championship game against Kent next week represents a last chance for some competitive game time before the series.
After not playing a Test over the winter, Woakes’ only action this year has come at the IPL with Delhi Capitals. Now back in England and quarantining, it remains to be seen whether he can make a late dash for inclusion. With Ben Stokes unavailable against New Zealand due to injury, Woakes – PCA Men’s Player of the Year in 2020 – could help fill the gap as an all-rounder.
Like Woakes, Curran has recently returned from the IPL and could also help plug the Stokes gap.
Wood was back in red-ball action last week for Durham against Warwickshire and played his part in a thumping innings win, taking 4-55 in the match. Test opportunities at home have been sparse in recent years, however, due to both injury and the impressive form of others – Wood has played only two Tests in England since the start of 2018.
Impressive in his sole outing against India earlier this year, Stone has continued to show off his extra pace in the County Championship for Warwickshire and collected 11 wickets across his side’s two wins over Notts and Essex last month. Likely to come into consideration in Australia at the end of the year, it’s harder to gauge how much he’ll be used at home this summer.
At the current time of writing, the leading wicket-taker in the County Championship. Overton’s consistency for Somerset is remarkable – he took 25 wickets in the first four rounds of the Championship – but hopes of getting a run in England’s Test set-up still appear slim due to the quality in front of him.
Uncapped but constantly among the wickets for Sussex, Robinson’s unerring accuracy in county cricket has won many admirers. He took nine wickets in an innings against Glamorgan last month and looks certain to be a part of England’s Test squads this year.