England are awaiting captain Ben Stokes’ fitness for the third test against New Zealand after he missed training on Tuesday with a cough in his chest and malaise.
Stokes returned a negative Covid test on Tuesday morning, but will continue to be monitored by medical staff. Three New Zealand players recently left five days of isolation after contracting Covid in Nottingham.
Stokes do not have a nominated vice-captain due to a lack of experience in the squad, with England preferring to delay the decision in hopes that he will stay fit. If he misses this test, candidates to replace him are James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Joe Root or Jonny Bairstow.
Anderson may well be fresh this week with a test against India at Edgbaston in mind as England hope to tie last year’s postponed series. Broad was captain of England’s Twenty20 team and is more likely to play here than Anderson.
It might be too early to ask Root to step in after stepping down as captain in April, especially as he’s been scoring runs, returning to No. Bairstow captained the Welsh Fire in the Hundred last season and previously led Yorkshire once in the Blast. He has never captained a team in top class cricket and hasn’t really been seen as leadership material by England, although there have recently been attempts to include him more in the management group and he is on a high after his epic Trent Bridge hundred .
Last week, New Zealand were hit by the withdrawal of captain Kane Williamson on the eve of the match when he tested positive. Since then, Devon Conway and Michael Bracewell have tested positive. All are available for selection this week.
Covid restrictions were relaxed this summer, with players returning to normal life and being able to visit restaurants and entertain friends at the hotel daily. Stokes visited his former cricket club Cockermouth over the weekend, for example, but with a spike in Covid across the country, players are more exposed than they were in the past two summers when restrictions were in place.
When asked about Williamson in the draw in Nottingham last week, Stokes joked “if you don’t test” then you can’t miss a match to Covid, but with New Zealand testing their players, England will have to follow suit if they come forward. symptoms.
England still expect Stokes to be fit and lead the team. Changes elsewhere are likely, however. Jamie and Craig Overton could become the first twins to play test cricket for England together if they decide to make changes to the bowling lineup, or if Stokes is dropped and they have to rearrange.
England’s players have had a week off since the second test but will play two matches in 13 days. Brendon McCullum will be adamant that England go for the win this week and pick the best team for the conditions, but India’s series could still be drawn and it was always unlikely that Anderson and Broad would play four test matches before the first week of July. .
Matt Potts has thrown more overs than any other player in the country and Headingley is a field where England might be tempted to leave out the spinner, but Stokes and McCullum are keen to make Jack Leach feel wanted and judge him after a good series of games.
Jamie is bowling at over 90mph this season and if they feel the field is flat, England will see that extra pace as a potential game-changer. Craig enjoyed his best match for England at Headingley last year on a sewing field against India and has been a member of every team in this series.
Jamie hit Craig over the head last week in a Surrey vs Somerset match and also forced Josh Davey to retire from the match due to a concussion.
At 6’8″ and with a shorter run that he believes is giving him more momentum in the crease, Jamie has spent starting the summer looking to retain a spot on the Surrey side on the cusp of a test debut.
Craig thinks his twin is the fastest player in county cricket at the moment and McCullum must be tempted to add a dimension of pace to his offense, especially since he seems to favor the short ball against the tail.
Both can bat – Jamie scored a first-class first-class hundred last summer – and would lengthen the tail considerably.
“It will be very special to play together,” Jamie said. “It’s a moment we’ve always wanted. Sometimes it felt like it wasn’t going to happen, so the fact that it could happen on Thursday is really magical. Our parents are arriving tomorrow, to be ready for the first day, in case I get called up. It’s a good time for all of us. In fact, I called Dad first and he didn’t answer, there was no signal. So I called Craig. It was a good call, Craig wasn’t expecting it either, so it was a good time.”