Phil Salt will get his first chance to replace Ben Stokes in England’s one-day squad and get behind an opening partnership that has changed the way he plays.
Stokes’ retirement from the 50-over format leaves a huge void in the team, and one that no newcomer could possibly fill given his all-round ability and aura on the pitch.
But his departure, so soon after that of world champion captain Eoin Morgan, opens up opportunities for fresh blood in a side that was once considered one of the most elusive in all of sport.
Salt is in pole position to face South Africa on Friday, a must-win clash at his home ground Emirates Old Trafford, and is keen to prove he is worthy of the chance.
“We’ve lost a couple of leaders in the dressing room, Stokesy the other day and Morg’s retirement and that’s having an impact. But we have to keep going,” Salt said.
“We have all the managers and experienced players in the dressing room that we need. And it’s an opportunity for guys like me, guys who have been there and played little things but haven’t had a solid run.
“I love playing at Old Trafford and to be honest I just have to take this opportunity with both hands now. I’ve been on the fringes for a while and I want to get in there and show people what I can do.”
The 25-year-old made his ODI debut under Stokes’ captain last summer in a scratch squad put together at the last minute following a Covid outbreak. He returned to the group for the recent trip to the Netherlands and made a strong impression in Matthew Mott’s first series as head coach.
He hit a first international century, 122 in 93 balls, followed by scores of 77 and 49 while substituting for Jonny Bairstow.
The Yorkshireman, who has been busy putting together the form of his life in the Test arena, is now back in place and set a record 14.00 in a losing affair with Jason Roy last time out at Chester-le-Street .
Salt would prefer to start at the top of the innings, but as someone inspired by the way Bairstow and Roy redefined the role leading up to the 2019 World Series, he accepts a middle role that awaits .
“I think I’ll step in where the opportunity arises because it’s the best opening partnership in 50-over cricket,” he said.
“There’s no doubt about that. Check out the numbers, how they play and how they have changed the way the game is played.
“There are a lot of people in international cricket who want to copy them and follow how they play. In my opinion, they have been setting standards for a number of years. They set the template for how you want to play when you play for England, it’s that simple. Anyone batting in my position across the country would have seen what they were doing and tried to emulate that.”
Putting yourself in an unfamiliar batting position at a moment’s pressure is no easy feat, with England having lost five of their seven white ball games since Morgan’s retirement and the Royal London Series at stake. But it’s one he feels up to.
“The best players are the ones who can adapt and improvise and find different ways to get their job done for most situations,” he said.
“I think the skill is reading the scoreboard and the conditions and assessing what you need to do. I think it’s as simple as that.”
In-form left arm Reece Topley will return after a break in Durham, with David Willey or Sam Curran likely to make way.
England were also joined at the nets by 17-year-old Leicestershire leg spinner Rehan Ahmed on Thursday. The Under-19 international is a highly valued candidate and has long worked alongside first-choice spinner Adil Rashid.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/cricket/england-eoin-morgan-ben-stokes-south-africa-jason-roy-b2128358.html England cricket: Phil Salt is keen to jump at the chance to replace Ben Stokes in the one-day team