With 14 uncapped players in the 55-strong training group for the summer, you might find yourself in the unfamiliar territory of not recognising a name or two on an England scorecard.
To help fill you in, we’ve put together a profile on all seven of the bowlers that could make their England debut this summer. We’ve started with the basics – their bowling style and county – and also given you our thoughts on how they might fit into Chris Silverwood, Joe Root, and Eoin Morgan’s plans over the coming weeks…
At only 20 years of age, Brookes is a seriously exciting young talent. He made his first-class debut against Essex back in 2017 when he was just 17 and, although he went wicketless in his first outing, wasted little time in establishing himself as a consistent performer on the county circuit. Success in both the Bears’ red- and white-ball sides has left him in a superb position, with the potential of an ODI cap probably the most likely given England’s summer schedule.
Whether or not Brookes gets his first international cap this summer remains to be seen, but it seems extremely unlikely that he’ll be made to wait too much longer. His action is simple and repeatable – a trait that allows him to find that all-important extra pace and bounce – and there’s nothing to suggest that his head is anything but clear. He runs in, lets it go, and gets people out.
Carse is one man on our list with a real claim to the all-rounder tag. He averages almost 30 in first-class cricket with the bat and has the ability to hit a seriously long ball. Born in South Africa, he made his way over to Durham in 2016 and earned himself a two-year contract. Despite a couple of injury setbacks, his potential was clear from the off and he found himself on the Lions’ tour of Australia over the winter.
He bowls with real pace, hence his inclusion in the ‘fast’ category, and offers little respite to any batsman facing up to him. With wheels to take the pitch out of the equation, he has the ability to rip through batting orders in no time and is a very real contender for a start or two this summer. His all-round capabilities perhaps lend themselves to a white-ball appearance or two, especially given his ability to clear the rope.
A T20 franchise star and another man with some serious wheels, Gleeson has racked up a healthy amount of varied experience during his time in the professional game. At 32 years of age, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Gleeson’s inclusion came after years of success in the county game. It wasn’t until he turned 27, however, that Northamptonshire came calling. As they so often do, they unearthed a gem from the world of club cricket and signed him up, using him to great effect during their successful T20 Blast campaign of 2016.
Since his Northants days, he’s gone from strength to strength at Lancashire, Rangpur Riders, and Melbourne Renegades. He now finds himself closer than ever to an England cap, and has a very clear message for anyone out there harbouring ambitions: ‘never give up and keep following your dream’. The late bloomer always tends to strike a chord with many and Gleeson certainly falls into that category. If he were to make his England debut this summer, it would cap off an already inspirational story.
Arguably the most reserved in terms of bowling speeds on our list so far, Helm enjoyed a superb summer for Middlesex last year. He picked up 58 championship wickets as he really delivered on his early-career promise. As someone who has been in and around the Lions set up for a few years now, Helm has threatened to break into the world of international cricket for some time. Last season could, perhaps, be the final piece in the jigsaw.
A real handful with the red ball, Helm probes away with just enough pace to keep the batsman honest. Think Toby Roland-Jones if you’re looking for a comparison. They both play for Middlesex, both have very similar actions, and both make their opponents wait all day before dishing up anything vaguely resembling a loose delivery. Any seamer would do well to force themselves into England’s Test team but he won’t let Joe Root down if he’s given the nod.
You’ll no doubt already be familiar with Jamie’s twin brother, Craig, but this Overton still has plenty to offer England. He’s noticeably quicker than his brother (sorry Craig) but not quite so accomplished with the bat (that evens it out, right?). Despite the talk a few years ago that we lack ‘express’ bowlers in this country, we seem to have quite a few at our disposal these days.
Overton’s best chance of an international cap this summer will probably come in the form of an ODI appearance but you wouldn’t necessarily bet against a breakthrough in Test cricket either. On the off-chance that Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, and Olly Stone all picked up injuries, it may well be that the selectors would turn to Overton. Playing at Taunton has exposed him to the mysteries of reverse-swing, while his status as an out-and-out quick could make him the ideal replacement for any of those three.
Unerring accuracy and a career book-ended to this point by Jason Gillespie are just two things that set this Ollie Robinson apart from the other one. Yep, just to confuse everyone, there are currently two Ollie Robinsons on the county circuit – one’s a top-order batsman for Kent that has yet to be asked back to training, the other’s our guy.
Our Robinson shares a number of characteristics with Helm and, therefore, with Middlesex’s Roland-Jones. He has enough pace but doesn’t rely on it to take wickets. Instead, his consistency and ability to extract movement both off the pitch and in the air have led to his success thus far. Despite being initially let go by Gillespie from Yorkshire, the former Australian quick has become something of a mentor for Sussex’s 26-year-old seamer at their new county.
We can take it as read, then, that Robinson will have as much mettle as he does ability with the ball – a trait that always proves invaluable in the world of international sport.
Finally, we’ve got a bit of variation for you. Virdi is an accomplished young off-break bowler, whose inclusion this summer has perhaps more fast-tracked the inevitable than presented a chance out of nothing. He has already experienced plenty of success in the first-class arena for Surrey and is one of the most likely names on our list to make an impression for England this summer.
Of course, any appearances will likely be governed by fitness and availability. Both Moeen Ali and Jack Leach are expected to be available again, while Dom Bess impressed everyone in South Africa with his control. If, however, England elect to pick all three in their Test squad, that could open the door for Virdi in ODI cricket. Granted, his success has been more notable in Surrey’s red-ball side, but many of England’s Test stars have started off in the 50-over game.
With the World Cup now Eoin Morgan’s least urgent concern and a T20 tournament hopefully happening before too long, that 50-over side could look very different this summer. Expect Virdi, if picked, to attack right from the off; he’s an aggressive spinner who’s always looking for wickets.