England will have a new opener in Pakistan with Ben Duckett likely to partner Zak Crawley; Liam Livingstone and Harry Brook also expected to play - watch first Test between Pakistan and England live on Sky Sports from Thursday (4.30am on air, 5am first ball)
Tuesday 29 November 2022 22:20, UK
England are expected to call on some new faces for the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi.
Ben Stokes leads his side to a first Test series in Pakistan since 2005, off the back of a summer that saw England win six out of seven Tests.
Keaton Jennings, Liam Livingstone and Will Jacks are included in the squad, with Ben Duckett and Harry Brook retaining their places.
Teenage sensation Rehan Ahmed was also a late addition as England bolstered their spinning options.
Ahead of Thursday's first Test, which is live on Sky Sports from 4.30am, we look at England's selection dilemmas.
Ben Stokes (captain), Rehan Ahmed, James Anderson, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, Will Jacks, Keaton Jennings, Jack Leach, Liam Livingstone, Jamie Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Mark Wood
Questions remain over who will partner Zak Crawley following the dropping of Alex Lees but it seems likely that England will give Duckett another opportunity.
The 28-year-old opened in the recent warm-up match against the Lions in Abu Dhabi and has previously impressed with the Lions, hitting 145 not out against South Africa in August.
Duckett made four Test appearances for England in the subcontinent in 2016, scoring 110 runs at an average of 15.71.
The left-hander has scored almost 8,000 runs in 119 first-class matches and amassed 1,012 runs for Nottinghamshire in 2022 to help his side win promotion back to County Championship Division One.
Duckett is renowned in white-ball cricket as an excellent player of spin and England will hope he can settle down the top order in red-ball cricket.
Lower down the batting line-up, England are missing the experience of Jonny Bairstow at No 5. The 33-year-old was the top performer in the summer but his year ended prematurely when he broke his leg on a golf course.
That has presented the opportunity for Brook to stake a claim in the middle order, with the Yorkshireman scoring 12 in his sole innings in the final Test of the home summer against South Africa.
With over 3,000 first-class runs, Brook has been earmarked as the next all-format player for England. He was in impressive form for Yorkshire during the County Championship this year, scoring 967 runs with an average of 107.44 - the best average in Division One.
Brook will almost certainly get a run in the side against Pakistan and will harbour hopes of fighting Bairstow for the No 5 spot long-term when the latter is fit again in 2023.
Pitches in Pakistan are expected to be flat and could favour spin, so England are set to deploy a second spinner alongside Jack Leach, with Livingstone, Jacks and Ahmed the options.
Livingstone is the frontrunner. The 29-year-old brings a wealth of white-ball experience to the squad and has impressed in red-ball games for Lancashire with bat and ball, albeit he has not played a first-class match since September 2021.
Livingstone has 43 first-class wickets and his ability to bowl leg spin and off spin will be useful against Pakistan, while he could also be a destructive force down the order with the bat.
Jacks seems likely to miss out and will have to wait for his turn but would be next in line if either Leach or Livingstone don't perform or are injured.
Ahmed is an interesting addition. Managing director Rob Key has indicated that England are keen to fast-track his development and it is expected that his inclusion in the squad is to support that.
The 18-year-old has taken nine wickets in his three first-class games to date and is highly rated, so England could spring a surprise and hand the 18-year-old a debut to test his mettle.
Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (captain), Liam Livingstone, Ben Foakes (wicketkeeper), Ollie Robinson/Jamie Overton, Jack Leach, James Anderson
Watch England's three-Test series in Pakistan live on Sky Sports Cricket. Coverage of the opening game begins at 4.30am on Thursday ahead of a 5am start in Rawalpindi.