George Garton looks set to make his England debut against Sri Lanka on Sunday, with stand-in head coach Graham Thorpe ready to ring the changes in Bristol.
With Chris Silverwood taking a break, Thorpe has overseen a pair of resounding wins to seal the Royal London Series with a game to spare and has the chance to mix things up in what is effectively a dead rubber.
Liam Livingstone will be hoping for another chance to impress after losing his place to the fit-again Jason Roy and spinner Liam Dawson will be eyeing a first appearance since 2018, but England are also keen to take a look at Garton, a left-arm quick and handy lower-order batsman.
Garton is the latest product of Sussex’s seam bowling production line, following in the footsteps of Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer, Tymal Mills and Ollie Robinson in catching England’s eye, and Thorpe is keen to put him through his paces.
“We can look to make changes. There’ll be interesting discussions about whether we can get George into the side down at Bristol,” he said.
“We’ve seen him play in some of the T20 games recently. We know he’s got a bit of pace on him, but he’s also got some good tricks up his sleeve.
“Like a lot of the players nowadays, he’s got various slower balls and he’s got a decent bouncer. It’s about the ability to deliver the accuracy of those variations as well, which is so important. I think that’s the exciting part of giving an opportunity to a younger player. It’s one thing seeing it at a county level, but it’s another thing stepping up and doing it in international matches as well.”
Garton has been on the radar since he was a teenager, fast-tracked into the Lions set-up and then called up as cover for the 2017/18 Ashes. But he has kicked on as a white-ball cricketer over the past couple of seasons and boasts a miserly economy rate of 6.62 in this year’s Vitality Blast, as well as taking eight wickets at 13.25.
On the face of it, Sri Lanka would appear to be ideal opponents for any newcomer. They were trounced at Durham and the Kia Oval, remain under-strength after sending home three senior players for breaking team rules and are limping towards the prospect of a 6-0 whitewash across both white-ball formats.
Stiffer tests await when England host Pakistan next week and Thorpe accepted those games were likely to be a better gauge of the world champions’ current state.
“Potentially the Pakistan series could push us further,” he conceded.
“They will be a team that’s further ahead in terms of experience and how I think they’ll be able to challenge as well. It’ll probably be a tougher contest
“We’ve been pleased with our own performances so far. We didn’t want any complacency to creep in and because of the competition we have, the players want to put in good performances.
“Having good healthy competition keeps players on the edge. All the players are aware that every time they put a shirt on in the white-ball format and in our red-ball team, it’s an opportunity for them to establish their place.”