Mason Crane, Ben Foakes and Craig Overton were the only players without a Test cap included in England’s squad for this winter’s Ashes tour – but they weren’t the only three who were pleasantly surprised by their selection.
“I guess it’s come from nowhere really,” James Vince said at Edgbaston this evening, as he reflected on the possibility of adding to the seven Test caps he won in 2016 – the last of them more than 13 months ago.
“I had my winter planned out with my T20 stuff and I hadn't really thought about the possibility of a call-up. I don't read a huge amount in the press so it has come as a surprise - hopefully I can get out there and play a part and do well.
"It is very special. To play for England last summer was special but to be called up for an Ashes tour is probably the best thing that can happen.”
Those sentiments were echoed by his Hampshire team-mate Mason Crane – who also shares with Vince some happy recent playing memories of Australia, having excelled in Grade cricket with Gordon to earn a Sheffield Shield appearance for New South Wales earlier this year.
"It's everyone's dream to go to an away Ashes and hopefully I'll get the opportunity to contribute and help bring the Ashes home,” said the leg-spinner, still only 20.
"I was trying very hard to not think about it and stay in the moment, as it were. During the West Indies series I really enjoyed that and it was a great experience. It was amazing to be around the guys then and now I've got another chance in the Ashes. It is the tour you all want to go on.
It's everyone's dream to go to an away Ashes and hopefully I'll get the opportunity to contribute and help bring the Ashes home
"I've had a lot of messages from guys I've played with and were associated with at my club in Australia last year and it will be awesome to see them again. It's been a very interesting year. Twelve months ago I was going out to play grade cricket and then came the North-South Series and then this season, when I could have contributed more in red-ball cricket, if I'm honest. But I've made a start with England and hopefully there's more to come."
Overton described his selection as “a dream come true” in a lengthy interview for ecb.co.uk this morning, and Foakes was still struggling to absorb the reality of an imminent Ashes tour at Emirates Old Trafford before the third day of Surrey’s match against Lancashire.
“I’m a bit shocked still, it hasn’t sunk in at all,” said the wicketkeeper, who has worked so hard to earn this first senior England recognition both in county cricket and on several Lions tours.
“From when I got the phone call to now, I haven’t processed it properly. I’m just a bit overwhelmed at the moment. As a kid the Ashes is the one you watch.
“My brother cried when I told him – for a bloke who doesn’t show much emotion, he must have been pretty happy.”
Foakes and his Surrey team-mate Mark Stoneman were told of their selection at the close of the second day on Tuesday – which gave them plenty to ponder as they watched Manchester City’s Champions League match against Shakhtar Donesk.
“I was on the tram to the Etihad and talking to my wife when I got the buzz on my phone saying it was a voicemail,” explained Stoneman, the 30-year-old Durham-raised opener who won his first three Test caps against the West Indies.
“It was from James Whitaker, I gave him a call back once I got off the tram, and he said he had some fantastic news and I was in the Ashes squad for the winter. Just amazing really. I still managed to enjoy the game – got the phone calls in, and then settled into my seat to watch.
“I’ve just scratched the surface and had a taste of it. Once you get a part of it, it leaves you wanting more.
“I can’t wait to get out there and get stuck in. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Australia with my wife being Australian It’s the pinnacle of Test cricket.”