Chris Silverwood: England opportunity there for new faces in squad for New Zealand series

England head coach Chris Silverwood has called on the new faces in his 15-man squad for the two-Test series against New Zealand to “take your opportunity” this summer.

Uncapped duo Ollie Robinson and James Bracey were included in the squad announced on Tuesday, while there was also a recall for Craig Overton.

As well as the two Tests against the Black Caps – starting on June 2 – England have a five-match series against India to follow ahead of this winter’s Ashes, and Silverwood is keen to blood players before that tour.

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“One thing we’ve talked about is to try and get to the point where we’re not debuting anybody in Australia,” Silverwood told reporters.

“It’s been a plan now for a while and we have given different people different experiences. We’re banking that all the way to the Ashes, really.

“We would like to give out opportunities but, at the same time, we’ve got to do what is best for the team and make sure it is balanced.”

Balancing the side is of particular concern to Silverwood ahead of the first Test against New Zealand, with leading allrounder Ben Stokes currently out injured and Chris Woakes and Sam Curran both ruled out after their involvement in the IPL.

Robinson and Overton are both capable with the bat, should Silverwood want to go into the first Test at Lord’s with five bowlers, though he stressed he has yet to decide on how the team will line up.

“The two of them [Robinson and Overton] are competing, realistically,” he added. “They’ve both done exceptionally well this summer, hence why they’re both in the squad and it’s very difficult to split the two of them.

“They are very capable with the bat too and give us options at seven or eight – around that sort of area – which is what we need.

“You lose a Stokes, Woakes or Curran and it does leave a gap in the batting order and, whichever way we cover the team, it could look a little imbalanced.

“The options are there for us: do we play six batters and five bowlers, or seven and four? Obviously, we’ll pick whoever can best stick to the game plan and who give us the best chance to win a Test match.”

The main reason behind the selection of both Robinson and Overton, however, has been their superb form with the ball for Sussex and Somerset, respectively, this season.

Overton is the leading wicket-taker in the County Championship, claiming 32 at an average of 13.96, while Robinson sits second on the list with 29 at 14.72.

As for the other new name in the 15, Bracey, averages over 50 batting at three for Gloucestershire this year and is included primarily as a top-order option who can also fill in at wicketkeeper if required.

“Bracey’s form this season has been excellent,” Silverwood said. “The way that he has applied himself since last summer and winter, where he was on the fringes and a little further away from playing than he’d have liked.

“His attitude towards training, towards learning and improving, and helping the other guys out in the squad, it has all been exceptional. We’ve seen somebody come back from those experiences a better player,

“He’s a quick learner; I have no doubt that were we to put him in the team for that first Test match that he’d be successful.”

Silverwood added: “To the youngsters coming in, ‘take your opportunity’. I think we’ve got a great mixture of experience and youth in there. It is a great opportunity for us to keep pushing and keep getting better moving forward to the Ashes.”

One of the most experienced members of the squad, Stuart Broad, has come out this week and said he wants to play in all seven Tests this summer.

Broad, who was dropped from the first Test of last summer before going on to claim 29 wickets in five Tests at an average of 13.41, also said he felt like former national selector Ed Smith “probably didn’t rate me as much as other players”.

Selection now falls to Silverwood as head coach, and though he said that bowlers might not be selected for all seven Test this summer, he promised any such decisions will be communicated clearly.

“I’ve spoken to Stuart. We have a good chat, around selection, and also about how well he’s doing at Notts,” Silverwood said.

“It may be that not all of the bowlers play all of the games. We’re not singling anyone out in particular, but it may be in trying to give some people experience, or to rest someone if we feel they’ve bowled a lot of overs.

“But communication is key, and whatever is decided, leading into the Test series, I will make sure I have spoken to not just Stuart about it, but all of the players. And I’ll make it very clear the path we are taking and why we’re taking it.

“It’s key that they can see logic and can see method in the decisions you’re making. If you do that, as Stuart said in his article, that he can understand why things are happening, then players usually buy into it.”

Watch the first Test between New Zealand and England live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Wednesday, June 2.

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