by IANS |
London, Aug 31 (IANS) England on Wednesday named an unchanged men's squad for the third Test against South Africa, which begins on September 8 at the Kia Oval.
The series is level at 1-1 going into the deciding Test after England won the second game at Old Trafford by an innings and 85 runs. This was after Proteas triumphed by an innings and 12 runs in the first Test at Lord's.
Following the win in the second Test, the England selection panel, made up of captain Ben Stokes, head coach Brendon McCullum and managing director Rob Key, have decided to keep faith with their 14-man group.
Only change would have come in the event of a defeat. Even then, McCullum is of a mind to allow players as many opportunities as possible to come good, especially with this group of players, whom he and Stokes believe are the best available in the country right now for their respective roles.
Zak Crawley, who has had a torrid run of form this summer, was the player under the most pressure to come good. But his determined 38 from 101 deliveries in England's only innings in Manchester was lauded. Now, his opening partner Alex Lees is the focus of external deliberation, averaging 25 across the six Tests so far this summer, albeit with two half-centuries. Both Crawley and Lees have been backed by the management.
"There are not many people queuing up to bat at the top of the order, they all want to bat four, five or six. We just want to make sure we're going to give people an opportunity. If there is ever a time when we have new opening batters or new players, they will know they will get the same amount of opportunity as these guys have done," Rob Key told Sky Sports during the second Test.
"We have spent 10 years since Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, trying to find an opening partnership and it is the toughest part of batting at the moment. We're going to give them a proper go," he added.
England squad: Ben Stokes (capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes (wk), Jack Leach, Alex Lees, Craig Overton, Matthew Potts, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root