Stuart Broad will be England’s vice-captain for the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s starting on Wednesday, with the hosts set to field at least one debutant in wicketkeeper James Bracey.
Fast bowler Broad was dramatically dropped from the first Test of the 2020 English season only to end that campaign having averaged a meagre 13.41 with the ball and gone past 500 Test wickets.
With regular vice-captain Ben Stokes injured and Jos Buttler, who has held the role in the past, rested, skipper Joe Root revealed Broad — who led England’s Twenty20 side before becoming a Test specialist, would be his deputy on the eve of the two-Test series with New Zealand.
“Stuart has been a senior player for a long time,” Root told reporters on Tuesday.
“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.”
Top-order batsman Root added: “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.”
With both Buttler and Jonny Bairstow rested following their Indian Premier League stints, and Ben Foakes ruled out by a freak hamstring injury suffered slipping on the Surrey dressing-room floor, Bracey takes over behind the stumps.
The Gloucestershire wicketkeeper-batsman has been in and around the squad in various bio-secure bubbles for the past 12 months, with the 24-year-old making a fine start to this season’s County Championship courtesy of 479 runs at an average of nearly 48.
“We can definitely confirm one — James Bracey will make his debut, which is very exciting,” Root said when asked about England’s side.
“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.”
The top-order batsman added: “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.”