Sam Cook in line for England Test debut despite recent injury

Sam Cook of Essex appeals unsuccessfully for lbw during the LV= Insurance County Championship Division 1 match between Northamptonshire and Essex at The County Ground on September 26, 2023 in Northampton, England
Sam Cook has taken 29 wickets for Essex so far this season - Getty Images/Shaun Botterill

Essex seam bowler Sam Cook is in line for a maiden Test call-up this summer despite an injury that is expected to rule him out of the next two rounds of County Championship action.

Having made a flying start to the season, Cook has been out with a hamstring injury for a month. While the injury was not serious, it has nagged away and ruled him out of Sunday’s Championship match against Durham.

In conjunction with the England management, a decision has been made not to rush the 26-year-old back for next Sunday’s game against Surrey at the Kia Oval.

England will not pick their Test squad until their T20 World Cup campaign ends, as the tournament may yet influence their decision-making.

Given the injury, they may decide not to pick Cook in their squad for the first Test of the summer, against West Indies at Lord’s, which will be Jimmy Anderson’s 188th and final. He is likely to get an opportunity to prove he can be Anderson’s successor later in that series, either at Trent Bridge or Edgbaston, however.

Cook is leading the wicket-taking charts in county cricket this summer with 29, joint with his Essex opening partner Jamie Porter, at an average of just 13.6.

Sam Cook of Essex celebrates the wicket of Murali Vijay of Somerset during Day One of the Specsavers County Championship Division One match between Somerset and Essex at The Cooper Associates County Ground on September 23, 2019 in Taunton, England
Cook is averaging just shy of 14 with the ball in this season's County Championship - Getty Images/Alex Davidson

Included in that was an outstanding performance in the season opener at Trent Bridge when, using the less bowler-friendly Kookaburra ball, he took a hat-trick in the first innings, then six for 14 in the second to win the game for Essex. Although Cook does not bowl with express pace, he is relentlessly accurate and highly skilful.

England could chose to use the West Indies’ warm-up fixture against a County Select XI a week before the first Test for Cook to prove his fitness.

Meanwhile, Anderson is set to play just one County Championship match to gear up for his Test swansong, at Southport next Sunday, meaning he will sit out Lancashire’s trip to Canterbury this week. He is yet to play this season, and it is unclear whether his final Test will also be his first-class retirement.

Anderson will spend the rest of the Test summer in the England camp as a mentor, while also doing some media duties around the Hundred. He could play for Lancashire in late September, and possibly even into next season.

Also likely to receive a Test debut this summer are Nottinghamshire’s Dillon Pennington and Surrey’s Gus Atkinson. The likes of Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson could compete for spots in the XI, while Matt Potts and the fit-again Olly Stone could return.