Mark Wood, Steven Finn and James Vince are among the players who will be given the chance to press their England one-day claims in the first North versus South series in the UAE next March.
Wood, who is on the comeback trail again after having his third ankle operation in the space of 12 months in the autumn, has been named in a North squad to be captained by his Durham team-mate Keaton Jennings, and also including Northamptonshire Steelbacks star Ben Duckett.
Vince, the Hampshire captain who has made 10 white-ball appearances for England since May 2015, will lead a South squad including his county team-mates Liam Dawson, Tom Alsop and teenage legspinner Mason Crane.
Finn made the last of his 65 ODI appearances in September 2015, but the chance to lead the South attack in the three-match series offers the opportunity to impress ahead of a domestic summer in which England will host the ICC Champions Trophy in June.
“For all the players selected, the North versus South series is a platform to make an impression,” said the National Selector James Whitaker after the squads were finalised this week.
“As Andrew Strauss said when he introduced the series before the start of the 2016 season, we see it as an important addition to our selection process in 50-over cricket, ahead of the two major global events we are staging over the next three summers – the Champions Trophy next year, and the World Cup in 2019.
“With the calibre of the squads we have selected, we are confident there will be an intense and high-quality level of competition that allows us to assess players who are currently just outside the England squad, and their ability to perform at that higher level.
“The teams will be led by two members of the senior England coaching staff – Paul Farbrace with the South, and Ottis Gibson with the North. They were both involved in the selection process, and the England head coach Trevor Bayliss will be attending the matches with me next March.”
Four players in each team had already earned their places through their performances in the 2016 Royal London One-Day Cup, measured by the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s Most Valuable Player rankings.
Duckett, Graeme White, Tim Bresnan and Harry Gurney qualified from the North Group, with Dawson, Matt Coles and the Somerset pair Lewis Gregory and Tim Groenewald qualifying from the South Group.
The selectors have added eight members of the Lions squad announced earlier this week for the one-day series against Sri Lanka A in March – Jennings, Joe Clarke, Liam Livingstone and Josh Poysden to the North squad, and Alsop, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Ben Foakes and Tom Curran to the South. They will all head direct to Dubai from Sri Lanka at the end of the Lions tour.
But Whitaker added: “We also wanted to use this series as an opportunity to see some other players who have shown potential in the county game.”
Falling into that category in the North team are Sam Hain, a 21-year-old batsman who played a big part in Warwickshire’s successful Royal London One-Day Cup campaign in 2016; Jack Leaning, a 23-year-old Yorkshire batsman who was the Cricket Writers’ Club Young Player of the Year in 2015, and impressed in white-ball cricket last summer; Saqib Mahmood, a 19-year-old Lancashire fast bowler who made his England Lions debut last summer after leading the England Under-19s attack for the previous two years; and Richard Gleeson, another Lancastrian fast bowler – from Blackpool – who was a much later developer, and had been playing Minor Counties cricket for Cumberland until seizing a chance with Northamptonshire last season.
In addition to the MVP qualifiers and the Lions players, the South squad is completed by Dawid Malan, the experienced Middlesex batsman who earned a place in England’s T20 squad through his Lions performances last winter; Sam Northeast, the 27-year-old Kent captain who has been a consistent run-scorer for the Spitfires in both 50-over and T20 cricket; and Crane, who was a team-mate of Mahmood’s at the ICC Under-19 World Cup earlier this year.
Hampshire are the county with the strongest representation in the squads, providing four players to the South, while Kent Spitfires have three players selected, as do Northamptonshire Steelbacks which gives them the most in the North squad.
The squads will gather in Dubai ahead of warm-up matches on March 15, with the first two matches of the series at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on March 17 and 19 before it concludes at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on March 21.
Squads for North versus South series, March 2017
North: K Jennings (Durham, capt), B Duckett (Northamptonshire Steelbacks*), S Hain (Warwickshire), J Clarke (Worcestershire Rapids, wk), L Livingstone (Lancashire Lightning), J Leaning (Yorkshire Vikings), T Bresnan (Yorkshire Vikings*), J Poysden (Warwickshire), G White (Northamptonshire Steelbacks*), M Wood (Durham), S Mahmood (Lancashire Lightning), R Gleeson (Northamptonshire Steelbacks), H Gurney (Notts Outlaws*).
South: J Vince (Hampshire, capt), D Bell-Drummond (Kent Spitfires), T Alsop (Hampshire), D Malan (Middlesex), S Northeast (Kent Spitfires), L Dawson (Hampshire*), B Foakes (Surrey, wk), T Curran (Surrey), L Gregory (Somerset*), T Groenewald (Somerset*), M Coles (Kent Spitfires*), S Finn (Middlesex), M Crane (Hampshire).
* - automatic selection through position in Professional Cricketers’ Association’s Most Valuable Player rankings for the 2016 Royal London One-Day Cup