England skipper Alastair Cook has backed seamer Jake Ball to rack up the wickets when he makes his international debut in today’s first Investec Test against Pakistan at Lord’s on Thursday.
Cook has confirmed that Nottinghamshire quick Ball, who has claimed 96 first-class scalps, has been given the nod over Middlesex rookie Toby Roland-Jones to replace the injured James Anderson in the series opener.
“Jimmy has missed out but this gives a great opportunity to Jake, and one he’s looking forward to,” said Cook. “I’m really looking forward to seeing how he goes.
“He’s had a great year with Nottinghamshire and looks a fine bowler. He has wicket-taking balls in him, certainly from facing him in the nets and speaking to other guys.
“He’s also got the ability to get good guys out on flat wickets. Speaking to [former England coach] Peter Moores about him, that’s one of his great skills – he puts the ball in good areas at good pace.”
Anderson suffered a stress fracture to his right shoulder playing against Sri Lanka last month and despite bowling in the nets this week, the risk of selecting England’s leading Test wicket-taker and aggravating the injury was deemed too high.
Cook added: “He’s really close, but it’s an injury that I don’t think many people have had, so there’s a little bit of doubt about it, and the selectors have decided it’s too much of a risk to go for it.”