Dan Lawrence appears poised to resume his Test career against West Indies in Antigua next week after being preferred to Ollie Pope in the rebooted England team that begins its solitary warm-up match on Tuesday.
Lawrence, the Essex right-hander, went unused during the 4-0 Ashes defeat but will bat at No 4, behind Joe Root, back at No 3, in a 12-man side that takes on the Cricket West Indies President’s XI over four days at the Coolidge Cricket Ground.
While Lawrence has played eight Tests, making three half-centuries and averaging 27.23, the batting line-up is also refreshed with the uncapped Alex Lees. The Durham left-hander opens alongside Zak Crawley at the ground built by convicted fraudster Allen Stanford and, with no reserve, a debut in next Tuesday’s first Test awaits.
Similarly, a return for Surrey’s Ben Foakes behind the stumps has been locked in since the touring party for the three-match series was announced three weeks ago and the axing of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad drew the bulk of the headlines.
In the absence of the record-breaking new-ball pairing, five bowlers have been named in England’s warm-up attack – Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Craig Overton, Ollie Robinson and Jack Leach – with a view to whittling this down to four next week.
It means Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson and Matt Fisher – all uncapped – must wait their turn. This one tour match, which is set to be streamed online, does not have first-class status, however, meaning England could experiment later in proceedings.
The backing of Lawrence by Root and Paul Collingwood, the interim head coach, comes after Pope experienced a torrid time against Australia, averaging 11.16 from six innings. The Surrey right-hander did well to dodge a cull that resulted in fellow batters Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan all being dropped.
Elsewhere Jonny Bairstow returns from the thumb injury suffered while scoring 113 and 41 in Sydney. The Yorkshireman is slated to bat at No 6 while it remains to be seen whether Ben Stokes, down at No 5, is fully fit to operate as a fourth seamer – something that would aid the selection of a spinner – after a side strain.
England face a CWI President’s XI led by Shane Dowrich, the Barbados wicketkeeper who scored a century against them three years ago, and four more capped players in Raymon Reifer, Shermon Lewis, Shayne Moseley and Jeremy Solozano.
Solozano’s solitary Test appearance to date came in Sri Lanka last November and was an unfortunate one, however, with the Trinidadian batter subbed out of his debut due to a concussion suffered while fielding at silly mid-off in the first innings.