October 23, 2019, 12:01

England’s Test bowling options – will Lewis Gregory and Dom Bess tour New Zealand?

England’s Test bowling options – will Lewis Gregory and Dom Bess tour New Zealand?

James Anderson, Mark Wood and Olly Stone are nursing injuries.

Moeen Ali is taking a break from Test cricket.

Adil Rashid has a chronic shoulder issue and has not played a red-ball game since January or any game since the World Cup final in July.

All of which makes who will join Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran and Jack Leach in the bowling pack for November’s two-Test tour of New Zealand intriguing.

Anderson (calf), Stone (back) and Wood (side and knee) have not officially been ruled out of the series – the squad for which is announced on Monday afternoon – but seem long shots to make the trip, with the four-Test tussle against South Africa from Boxing Day a more likely target.

In their probable absence, two Somerset seamers will be eyeing call-ups, with Craig Overton and Lewis Gregory seemingly vying for a spot as back-up paceman at least.

Overton played his fourth Test for England during the Ashes, showing guts with the bat as the hosts threatened to pull off a draw at Old Trafford, yet his bowling was largely ineffective and his Test average with the ball stands at an unremarkable 44.77.

Gregory, uncapped in international cricket, was higher up the pecking order at the start of the summer, named in the squad for the Ireland Test only to be left out of the starting XI.

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The 27-year-old, who missed almost all of August with a foot injury, has bagged 51 wickets in just 10 Championship matches this season at 15.49 ahead of the title decider with Essex, with four five-wicket hauls and 11 scalps in the match in a thrashing of Kent in June.

Gregory does not possess the express pace of Wood or Stone but has snared over 250 first-class wickets with his ability to swing the ball, an asset that could work well in New Zealand.

Essex’s Jamie Porter is of a similar ilk and has passed 50 wickets in each of the previous four Championship campaigns, a milestone he will reach yet again if he takes two at Taunton this week.

Sussex’s Ollie Robinson is not rapid either but picked up 74 scalps last season and now has over 60 this term, albeit in the second division.

Another bolter could be Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood – now, he is quick.

The 22-year-old has not set the world alight in the Championship during his side’s promotion campaign, though was electric in the Royal London One-Day Cup with 28 wickets in 10 matches.

Should he miss out on a Test call-up, then he should be able to console himself with a spot in England’s T20 party, potentially alongside team-mate and talented leg-spinner Matt Parkinson.

Spin in Test cricket is also on England’s agenda with Ali certain and Rashid all but certain to not make the New Zealand trip, leaving a spot vacant as deputy to Leach.

England may decide they do not need another spinner and that Joe Denly’s leg breaks and Joe Root’s off breaks could cover should Leach miss out for any reason but if they do want a frontline tweaker, it may come down to Liam Dawson or Leach’s Somerset colleague Dom Bess.

Slow left-armer Dawson is economical and could hold an end up, while off-spinner Bess has bagged 24 wickets this campaign while playing either for Somerset or on loan at Yorkshire.

Both have Test experience, both can bat and both are very good fielders.

Parkinson and Surrey’s Amar Virdi – who snared a 14-wicket haul against Nottinghamshire but has played second fiddle to the veteran Gareth Batty for much of the campaign – are outside options.

If only Simon Harmer were English…

Source: skysports.com

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