Ben Stokes hails Test debutant Matthew Potts as ‘everything I expect from this England team’

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Ben Stokes hails Test debutant Matthew Potts as ‘everything I expect from this England team’
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Test captain Ben Stokes has described Matthew Potts as “everything I expect from this England team”, and revealed the moment he realised his Durham team-mate had to make his debut.

Potts will make his Test bow at Lord’s in England’s first match of the summer tomorrow, against New Zealand, having beaten Craig Overton to the final spot in the attack alongside the recalled veterans James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

The 23-year-old comes into the series as the form bowler in the County Championship, having taken 35 wickets in six matches. Two of those games were with Stokes in the Durham XI, and it was on the fourth day of a fixture against Glamorgan last month that Stokes was particularly impressed.

"Obviously he’s a Durham lad – there’s no bias there!” laughed Stokes. “I spent time playing with him back at Durham this summer, and have got to know him over the years, watching him progress. He has been outstanding in the games I have played and even before that, he has been the guy that [captain] Scott Borthwick has turned to to take the wickets.

“I think one thing that has been really good this year about county cricket is that it’s not been all plain sailing for the bowlers like it has been over the last few years, you’ve really had to work for your wickets and he’s managed to create things out of nowhere.

Ben Stokes has been impressed by Matthew Potts’ development at Durham (Getty Images)
Ben Stokes has been impressed by Matthew Potts’ development at Durham (Getty Images)

“I think the one thing that really made my mind up about Potts getting this opportunity in the squad was when he bowled us to victory against Glamorgan.

“He turned up on day four with a bit of a stiff side and someone in his situation with Test selection coming round the corner, he could have just sat back and said ‘no, I am going to just look after myself here’, but he didn’t.

“He ran in and he won the game for Durham. That’s the attitude that sets you at the next level and really makes you open your eyes that this kid is ready, he’s been phenomenal. He’s an athlete and everything I expect this team to be going forward.”

Potts is the latest fast bowler to emerge from Durham, following Steve Harmison, Graham Onions, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood and indeed Stokes. Asked why the county had such a strong record of producing quicks, he joked: “We’re northern. We are hard”.

The other uncapped player in the squad, Harry Brook, has not made the XI for the match, with Ollie Pope at No3 and Jonny Bairstow at No5.

Brook has 840 runs at 140 for Yorkshire in the County Championship this season, as well as 161 in three Vitality Blast innings.

“All he can do is keep banging the door down, which is certainly what he has been doing in the red-ball and white-ball games this year,” said Stokes. “It’s a great place to be when you have got someone like Harry not in the team. You would rather have it that way than wondering who is coming in next.

“Brook has another opportunity next match. I don’t think it’s going to be long before he gets an opportunity.”

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