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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Rory Dollard

Rehan Ahmed left out of England’s Test squad for New Zealand tour


England will not be taking Rehan Ahmed to New Zealand for their next Test series as they look to manage the 18-year-old’s rapid transition to international cricket.

Ahmed became the country’s youngest ever men’s Test cricket player when he lined up against Pakistan in Karachi last week, breaking Brian Close’s 1949 record, and marked the occasion by taking a decisive five-wicket haul.

The leg-spinner arrived on tour having played just three first-class matches for Leicestershire and England have made it clear they will be taking a careful approach over his development.

The Tests in February in Mount Maunganui and Wellington are not likely to favour spin and, with Jack Leach retaining his status as first choice, Ahmed has not made the 15-man squad.

Instead, he will head to play in the UAE T20 league with a view to linking up with England’s white-ball team for the first time in Bangladesh in March.

Mark Wood, who played a key role in the T20 World Cup win and the historic 3-0 Test win in Pakistan, has been rested from all cricket in a bid to protect him from further injury ahead of the Ashes. Wood missed the entire English summer with elbow problems and has battled fitness issues throughout his career.

England are also being careful with Jofra Archer, who was picked for January’s ODI trip to South Africa 24 hours earlier but will wait longer to return to long-form cricket after almost two years on the sidelines.

The bowling stocks are replenished by the vast experience of Stuart Broad, who sat out the recent Pakistan series due to the arrival of his first child, Durham’s Matthew Potts and Warwickshire’s Olly Stone.

Potts enjoyed a superb start to his Test career over the summer, taking 20 wickets at an average of 28 in five appearances, but has yet to be seen over the winter.

Stone, another player repeatedly derailed by injury issues, has a chance to add to his three caps and offers the prospect of a 90mph option while Wood and Archer rest up.

Three other players who took part in England’s first Test trip to Pakistan in 17 years are not included. Liam Livingstone was injured on his debut in Rawalpindi, while opener Keaton Jennings and Jamie Overton, who did not feature in the three-match series, drop out.

Essex batter Dan Lawrence has the chance to kickstart his England prospects for the first time under the leadership of head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes, recalled for the first time since the West Indies tour in March despite his 2022 season with Essex being stalled by injury and modest form.

England squad for New Zealand: B Stokes (captain), J Anderson, S Broad, H Brook, Z Crawley, B Duckett, B Foakes, W Jacks, D Lawrence, J Leach, O Pope, M Potts, O Robinson, J Root, O Stone.

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