Stuart Broad has been announced as England’s vice-captain for the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s while there will be at least one debutant in the home side as James Bracey is set for his international bow.
Broad was controversially dropped for the first Test of the English summer last year before a series of remarkable displays after being restored to the XI, in which he averaged 13.41 with the ball and went past 500 Test wickets.
In the absence of the injured Ben Stokes and rested Jos Buttler, Joe Root revealed seamer Broad – who has in the past led England’s Twenty20 side – would be his deputy on the eve of the two-Test series against the Black Caps.
Root said: “Stuart has been a senior player for a long time. He speaks extremely well, he’s got a very good cricket brain, and captaincy experience within the short format. He’s the right man to take that in Ben and Jos’ absence.
“He’s at real peace with his game at the minute. He’s an integral part as a senior player, and very much a leader within that bowling group. I’m really pleased for him, and it’s a great opportunity for him to take that on.
“You don’t play as many games as he has, or have the record he does, without having to go through some difficult moments in your career. A lot of the time it’s how you respond to that. And he’s always done that extremely well, and it’s why he’s such a wonderful player – and one of the best in the world.”
Bracey, meanwhile, will as expected take his place as wicketkeeper with Buttler and Jonny Bairstow unavailable after their stints in the Indian Premier League bubble, while the freak injury Ben Foakes suffered rules him out.
Foakes tore his hamstring after a slip in the Surrey dressing room last week, paving the way for Bracey, who has had much of the past year training with England as a reserve in various bio-secure environments at home and abroad.
He has taken that experience into this season’s LV= Insurance County Championship, where he has amassed 479 runs at 47.9. While he is now certain of his place, Root was tight-lipped about who else will feature on Wednesday.
“We can definitely confirm one – James Bracey will make his debut, which is very exciting,” Root added. “He’s worked extremely hard, and has been around the squad for a good while now. He’s got a great work ethic.
“He’s gone back and performed extremely well at the start of the season with Gloucestershire, and really excited to see him take his opportunity.
“In terms of the rest of the squad, we haven’t quite got that clarity. There are a few things we want to weigh up and be sure on, in terms of the balance of the side and how that exactly looks.”