Lewis Gregory and Olly Stone deserve England Test call-ups
Last Updated: 18/07/19 7:38pm
All-rounder Lewis Gregory is "one of the most under-rated cricketers in the country" and fully deserves his England Test call-up, says Rob Key.
Gregory, 27, has been included in the 13-man squad to face Ireland next week and will also attend this weekend's pre-Ashes training camp after taking 44 wickets at 13.88 apiece for Somerset.
The 27-year-old is currently captaining the England Lions against Australia XI in a tour match at Canterbury and Key told Sky Sports that Gregory's hard work has paid off.
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"Lewis Gregory is one of the most under-rated cricketers in the country," said Key.
"He's been around a long time. Somerset are doing excellent things this year. They've already won the 50-over competition and they have a good chance in the Championship.
"The problem is that as a seamer - ok he's an all-rounder but generally plies his trade as an opening or first-change bowler who bats seven or eight - you don't get many plaudits if you are bowling at Taunton, which can be a batting paradise."
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Gregory is joined in both squads by Warwickshire seamer Olly Stone after pacemen Jofra Archer and Mark Wood were both ruled out by side strains.
Wood will definitely miss at least the first two Ashes Tests but Archer could yet be fit for the first match of the series, which begins on August 1.
"England shouldn't be drastically worried but hopefully they come through at some stage," reflected Key.
"After seeing Archer a bit in both red and white-ball cricket, I think he might get more out of the red-ball - which is no great surprise as most bowlers do - but he can do it at 95mph.
"Wood was man-of-the-match in the last Test England played and bowled as quick a spell of bowling as I think I've seen; so as far as pace is concerned, Archer and Wood are big misses but England still have a fair few options.
"Olly Stone was very impressive last year. I did a one-day tour in Sri Lanka where he got his first international wicket and bowled quick on slow surfaces.
"He was much talked about before he got his stress fracture and before the emergence of Archer put him the back-burner, so I think he's a good man to have in the pack."
ECB national selector said that no specific date has been decided for James Anderson's return from a calf injury but he said the veteran seamer could play against Ireland, even if he had to do so with a limited workload.
"Jimmy Anderson is the greatest bowler England have ever had," said Key. "Hopefully he makes it and hopefully he gets in for that first Ashes Test because in terms of pressure and scrutiny, there's nothing bigger in Ashes cricket.
"But England still have a fair few resources now. Someone like Stuart Broad can take over the mantle as the senior bowler.
Smith confirmed that opener Jason Roy will make his Test debut against Ireland - a decision that delighted Key, who has been championing the Surrey batsman for some time.
"I believe he can translate his one-day form into the Test arena; I've thought for a while now that he should be opening the batting in Test cricket for England," said Key.
"He's not replacing someone who is scoring loads and loads of runs; it's not like replacing Andrew Strauss or Alastair Cook.
"So really England have a free bet on this. You don't want him to go out there and tee off - you want him to play; he has a good technique and an ability to put bowlers under pressure because he can pick length so well and has so many shots."
England face Ireland in a one-off Test followed by the Ashes. Make sure you catch all the action on Sky Sports Cricket on July 24, on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Cricket from 10am.