England look to new Ball as Lord's Test looms

July 13, 2016

Jake Ball is to make his Test debut for England as the Test series against Pakistan gets underway at Lord's tomorrow (July 14th).

The 25-year-old pace bowler from Nottinghamshire will take the place of the injured James Anderson, after taking 31 wickets in the Specsavers County Championship so far this season.  

Following public confirmation by captain Alastair Cook that Ball will play, the bowler admitted "I probably won't get much sleep tonight."

Cook said: "Unfortunately Jimmy has missed out but it's a great opportunity for Jake.

"He's got wicket-taking balls in him, the ability to get good players out on flat wickets, and he puts the ball in good areas with good pace.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how he goes, he's had a great year with Notts and looks a fine bowler."

The inclusion of Ball is one of two changes made to the side, with Gary Ballance returning to the side after being dropped following last year's Lord's Test against Australia. He takes the place of Nick Compton, who endured a run of low scores against Sri Lanka earlier this summer and has subsequently taken a break from the game.

Ballance had been batting at number three for England before he was dropped, but he will now take the number five position, with Joe Root coming in at three.

Fans booking corporate hospitality for the third Test at Edgbaston will have good reason to be excited about the series ahead.

England will certainly face a tougher challenge from Pakistan than they did against an inexperienced Sri Lanka side that was exposed in unfamiliar conditions in May at Headingley and Chester-le-Street.

While Sri Lanka are learning to cope without the retired greats Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, Pakistan can still call on veterans Younis Khan and captain Misbah-ul-Haq, ranked fifth and tenth respectively in the Reliance ICC Test batting rankings. Also in the side are Azhar Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed and the classy Asad Shafiq, who are all in the top 20.

Even with the world's top-ranked bowler on the sidelines, England's pace attack should still perform well against a side that has played very little Test cricket outside Asia in the last three years. The tourists' own pace attack is a cut above that fielded by Sri Lanka, offering plenty of pace, spin and variety.

Wahab Riaz will provide raw pace and Mohammad Amir swing bowling skills, while legspinner Yasir Shah will be seeking once again to prove he is the current generation's answer to Shane Warne. He is currently fourth in the rankings, a place below Stuart Broad.

In addition, the presence of South African Mickey Arthur and Zimbabwean Grant Flower on the coaching staff is likely to mean that the fielding, a major weakness of past Pakistani teams, will be of a much higher standard this time.

The possibility of a close series is also borne out by the Test team rankings, with Pakistan third on 111 points and England fourth on 108. A series win would see England leapfrog their opponents, and a win margin of two Tests could see England jump to the top of the rankings, should Australia lose their series in Sri Lanka next month and India fail to secure a heavy win in their series in the West Indies.

By Sam Coates

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