Eng vs NZ 2022 – Matthew Potts planning to ‘run in and bowl hard’ as England debut beckons

Eng vs NZ 2022 - Matthew Potts planning to 'run in and bowl hard' as England debut beckons

England’s fast-bowling injury crisis has allowed Matthew Potts to emerge from the outer and bowl himself into a 13-man Test squad for the first two Tests against New Zealand, a call-up which he admitted on Monday “wasn’t on the radar at all” at the start of the season.

Potts, a 23-year-old seamer from Sunderland, had 42 wickets at 33.85 apiece to his name at the start of April but has been the standout bowler in the County Championship this season, taking 35 wickets at 18.57 for Durham.

Ben Stokes and Rob Key have both watched his progress with interest and he is in contention to make his debut in the first Test at Lord’s on Thursday, seemingly competing with Craig Overton for the final spot in England’s XI. His family will travel down to London “on the off chance” that he is picked for what would be only his second career appearance at Lord’s, after one game for Northern Superchargers in the Hundred last summer.

“I was rested for the County Championship match here but I’ve had a couple of spells out in the middle to get used to the slope, get my head around what lengths and what areas and hopefully translate that into the game,” he said.

“It’s nice to get a few overs under the belt – I’m really excited and will start narrowing it down tomorrow and the day before the Test and get ready to play. There is a little difference in the intensity but I’m honestly looking to change nothing about what’s got me here. I’m just going to run in and bowl hard, bowl my areas and see if that works.

“It would mean everything to make my debut at the Home of Cricket. This wasn’t at all on the radar at the start of the year so it would be a great moment for me and the family – the pinnacle of cricket, at the Home of Cricket. I’m really looking forward to it and we’ll see what the next couple of days hold.”

Like most of England’s seamers, Overton struggled in the Caribbean in March, taking four wickets at 47.25 across his two appearances, but he may hold the edge over Potts due to his batting, with Chris Woakes and Sam Curran’s absences resulting in a long tail and few options at No. 8.

Potts has made 65 runs in seven Championship innings this season but clearly recognises that working on his batting could help him secure a place in future. He has shown glimpses of his ability in the past, with two first-class fifties to his name as well as a second-team hundred for Durham back in 2018.

“I haven’t had loads of runs this season,” he said. “Batting down the order, it is nice to contribute runs and hopefully it is something I can add to my game. I’m working really hard on my batting. It’s something I see as an asset going forward and the aspiration is to become a genuine allrounder.

“That is where I believe I can benefit the team in the future. It’s something I take pride in and I get really disappointed when I don’t score runs. I started as a batsman – I wasn’t the most technical batsman as a youngster but I gave the ball a good whack. It’s a bit more of a challenge now but I do pride myself on it.”

If Potts does miss out this week, he will come into consideration for the second and third Tests at Headingley and Trent Bridge, with England’s packed schedule leaving limited recovery time for their fast bowlers. He has not played for the last two weeks and hopes that he will be able to cope with the physical and psychological step-up if selected.

“It’s the same game,” he said. “You run in a bowl with a red ball, you bowl at a batsman. We’ll see how [my game] reacts to the pressure but I’m just going to go in and do my thing if I get the nod. I’ve had two chilled-out weeks, bowling a few overs and just fine-tuning everything. I was a bit on simmer but now I’m raring to go and very, very excited.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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