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Matty Potts is the form bowler, but England selectors must not give up on Ollie Robinson

NASSER HUSSAIN: Matty Potts is the early-season bowler, but England managers must not give up Ollie Robinson as they prepare for the first Test against New Zealand.

  • Matty Potts is the fittest bowler in the County Championship after six games
  • Potts has collected 35 wickets for Durham with Ben Stokes standing in the middle
  • England shouldn’t turn their backs on struggling bowler Ollie Robinson either
  • Robinson has had to endure injuries and illnesses in recent months.

I know from my experience with Graham Gooch at Essex that having the England captain on your side can be a double-edged sword.

They see the good side of you and also the bad side.

But when you get 35 wickets in the first six games of the season at 18 apiece, including seven in your last game, like Matty Potts has done in Durham with Ben Stokes standing in the middle or slipping, you can’t make your chances of any damage.

Matty Potts is the fittest bowler in the county championship ahead of the first test match

Matty Potts is the fittest bowler in the county championship ahead of the first test match

England are absolutely right to pick the bowler in County Championship form for the first test against New Zealand and I think he will play at Lord’s, not only because he is good enough but because so many bowlers are missing.

It’s a great opportunity for Potts and from what I’ve seen of him he maintains his speed throughout the game, something Ollie Robinson has lacked in his short time as an England bowler.

Not that I think England should turn their backs on Robinson now. Rob Key spoke Wednesday of the misfortune of him with injuries and illnesses in recent months, but we’re talking about a bowler with 39 wickets from the first nine Tests of him with 21 apiece.

England shouldn't turn their backs on Kent's Ollie Robinson despite his recent troubles

England shouldn’t turn their backs on Kent’s Ollie Robinson despite his recent troubles

Robinson appears to be depressed as questions were raised about his fitness in Australia and he then missed the entire West Indies series with a back injury.

He needs to be fully fit to be able to maintain his speed during a test but, especially in English conditions, he should have a big part to play in England’s new era.

There weren’t many surprises in the first Test team chosen by Key, Stokes and Brendon McCullum. In general, they have stayed with players from the previous regime and in particular with the starters.

There weren't many surprises in the first test team chosen by Rob Key, Ben Stokes (pictured) and Brendon McCullum

There weren’t many surprises in the first test team chosen by Rob Key, Ben Stokes (pictured) and Brendon McCullum

Alex Lees didn’t do so well in the Caribbean, but has had a terrific start to the season with Durham, again with the Stokes watching. I have no argument with selecting him now.

There is enormous potential left in the other members of the top three, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope, and as Duncan Fletcher always told me, casting is an investment in the future.

That’s what England are doing with these two now, but they need to deliver.

Crawley has been feast or famine and has a glaring technical flaw, with the bat dropping from the third or fourth slide into the middle, making him very dominant on the leg side and susceptible to slippage.

And, as a starter, he cuts too often by playing a lot of loose drives. But if he does come in, he’s a class act and a very flashy player.

As Key pointed out, this England team will not be an all-out attack.

McCullum once made a 300-hour Test 13 and Stokes laid the groundwork for things to come in the first four hours of their winning innings against Australia at Headingley in 2019.

It will be all about playing the situation and I just want to see a winning brand of cricket.

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