Jos Buttler looks set to earn a surprise recall to England’s Test team later this afternoon, while the Somerset spinner, Dominic Bess, is expected to be the beneficiary of his team-mate Jack Leach’s misfortune, as the new national selector, Ed Smith, unveils his squad for next week’s first Test against Pakistan.
Buttler, who has not played red-ball cricket for England since the tour of India in November and December 2016, has found a rich vein of form for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL this month, with a tournament-record five consecutive half-centuries, including unbeaten scores of 95 and 94 in his last two innings.
He seems set to come into the middle order, with Jonny Bairstow retaining the wicketkeeper’s role, and ESPNcricinfo understands James Vince is likely to be the fall guy after a winter of false dawns, in spite of a timely Championship double-century for Hampshire against Somerset on Monday.
Vince, who was recalled to the Test squad for the Ashes, in spite of a mediocre start to his career against Sri Lanka and Pakistan in 2016, made an attractive 83 in his first Test innings of the winter, at Brisbane in November, and signed off with 76 against New Zealand at Christchurch last month. However, in between whiles, he made just one more score of fifty in nine innings, with a propensity to get himself out when well set costing him dear.
Bess, meanwhile, has leapfrogged to the front of England’s spinning options, in the wake of a cruel injury for Leach in the nets at Taunton next week. A fractured left thumb means he will be out of action for both Pakistan Tests, and so will be unable to back up the promise he showed on Test debut in Christchurch last month.
Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are set to compete for the final fast-bowling spot while Mark Stoneman is expected to retain his place at the top of the order despite a lean start to the season. The squad will be named at 3pm.