| FUTURE HOPE: James Anderson, who is likely to share the new ball with Steve Harmison
London, May 17 (Reuters): England named three uncapped players — James Anderson, James Kirtley and Anthony McGrath — in a 13-man squad for next week’s first Test against Zimbabwe.
Anderson, the 20-year-old Lancashire seamer, was England’s most successful bowler in the World Cup with 10 wickets. Sussex pacer Kirtley and McGrath, the Yorkshire captain and allrounder, have made impressive starts to the County season.
Wicketkeeper Alec Stewart, 40, kept his place for what will be his 127th Test match.
“It’s a balance of winning today and planning for the future,” chairman of selectors David Graveney said.
Kirtley replaced Andy Caddick, who has a foot injury, but England also have fitness concerns over allrounder Andrew Flintoff who was named in the squad despite suffering from a shoulder problem.
“Our chief medical officer will continue to monitor the situation with Andrew Flintoff and we are hopeful that he will recover in time for the Test match,” Graveney said.
Robert Key looks certain to continue in the middle-order after being preferred to the more experienced John Crawley.
England’s bowling has been weakened by the absence of the injured Darren Gough and Craig White, so they are likely to field an inexperienced new-ball pairing of Anderson and Steve Harmison.
Anderson made his mark on the international scene in Australia at the end of last year. He was not considered for the final two Tests of the Ashes series after flying home because of a family bereavement.
McGrath, 27, played under Hussain’s captaincy on the England A tour of Pakistan in 1995-96. “I was surprised and delighted to get the call from David Graveney this morning,” McGrath said. “I think I have been in good form this season so far and played pretty well without getting a really big score.”
Graveney said England would not be taking Zimbabwe lightly in the two-Test series.
The first Test is at Lord’s from May 22 and the second at Durham’s Chester-Le-Street from June 5. England then host South Africa in a five-Test series starting in late July.
Nasser Hussain (Essex, captain), James Anderson (Lancashire), Mark Butcher (Surrey), Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire), Ashley Giles (Warwickshire), Stephen Harmison (Durham), Matthew Hoggard (Yorkshire), Robert Key (Kent), James Kirtley (Sussex), Anthony McGrath (Yorkshire), Alec Stewart (Surrey), Marcus Trescothick (Somerset), Michael Vaughan (Yorkshire).