Moeen Ali expressed his pride at leading England in Pakistan but rejected the suggestion the tourists have brought a second-string squad for the seven Twenty20 internationals between the teams.
Jos Buttler has made the trip but England’s white-ball captain is wary of rushing his return from a calf injury sustained in The Hundred, especially with the T20 World Cup in Australia just a month away.
While there is optimism he could feature later on in the series, he will miss Tuesday’s opener in Karachi, so Moeen takes on the captaincy role for England’s first fixture in Pakistan since late 2005.
As an English cricketer of Pakistani descent, this tour has long been thought of as having particular resonance for Moeen and he admitted what a privilege it was to take on skippering duties.
He said: “One hundred per cent. With my roots being from here and to lead England in such a big and historic series, it’s huge.
“It’s a very proud moment for me and my family, my mum and dad and everybody.
“Of course my family are very happy and my friends and my community (too), and everybody who I feel like I represent they’re very happy for me.
“Captaining England in any game anywhere in the world is a huge honour.”
While Buttler is convalescing, Jonny Bairstow and Liam Livingstone miss the tour entirely after adding to England’s luckless run with injuries, with a host of fast bowlers still sidelined – although Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are set to be eased back into action after missing the entire summer programme.
Jason Roy has been dropped after a poor run of form over the summer while England Test captain Ben Stokes takes a break after his exploits, which opens up opportunities for those on the fringes.
Tom Helm, Luke Wood, Will Jacks and Jordan Cox are uncapped at international level and Olly Stone has not played a T20 for England.
With Harry Brook, Liam Dawson, Ben Duckett, Richard Gleeson and Phil Salt yet to reach double digits in T20 international appearances, there is a fresher feel to England’s 20-strong squad.
But Moeen indicated England are in a period of transition and that some of the more unestablished figures have valuable experience in domestic T20 franchise leagues on the subcontinent.
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) September 18, 2022
Speaking at a press conference in Karachi, Moeen, who has captained England in four T20s in the last couple of years, added: “It’s not through selection, it’s more through unfortunate injuries. We still have a very good side.
“Throughout the summer we’ve had bad injuries but it gives good opportunities for new players to come in and there were always going to be new players coming into the squad because the cycle has changed.
“The team that we bring, I believe we are a very good white-ball team. White-ball players from England have been coming (here for the Pakistan Super League).
“Phil Salt is somebody who is a fantastic player, Will Jacks and Harry Brook has done well in the PSL as well. These guys are very, very good players, I wouldn’t say they’re second string.”