England have recalled Ollie Robinson into a 14-man squad for this month’s first two Tests of a three-match series against South Africa.
Robinson has not played for England since the Ashes ended in January due to several fitness issues, mainly surrounding his back.
But the 28-year-old seamer took nine wickets in Sussex’s recent County Championship match against Nottinghamshire before earning an England recall in place of the injured Jamie Overton.
Struggling opener Zak Crawley has retained his place in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Robinson will now look to add to an impressive tally of 39 wickets in nine Tests at 21.28 when England face South Africa in the first Test at Lord’s starting on August 17.
He will have a chance to press his claim for a place in the Test XI by playing for the second-string England Lions in their four-day tour match against South Africa at Canterbury next week.
England have won all four of their Tests under a new leadership duo of captain Ben Stokes and red-ball head coach Brendon McCullum, including a 3-0 whitewash of world champions New Zealand.
“After an excellent start to the summer under Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes, we’re looking forward to an exciting Test series against a strong South Africa side,” said Mo Bobat, men’s performance director at the England and Wales Cricket Board as the squad was announced on Tuesday.
“The selectors have picked a squad for the first two Tests at Lord’s and Old Trafford with continuity in mind.
“It’s good to get Ollie Robinson back in the mix after his recent injury. He will continue his progress by playing for the Lions against South Africa in a four-day match at Canterbury next week.”
Following a poor Ashes series, where his approach to fitness was questioned in public by the England coaching staff, Robinson missed the subsequent tour of the West Indies with back spasms.
He was due to play for a County Select XI against New Zealand in May, only to miss out with a stiff back, before a bout of Covid-19 caused him to spend more time on the sidelines before he returned to action at Trent Bridge.
If Robinson proves his fitness with the Lions, he will be competing alongside James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Matthew Potts and Craig Overton for a place in England’s pace attack at Lord’s.
The remainder of the Lions squad is due to be announced on Friday.
England squad for the first two Tests against South Africa:
Ben Stokes (Durham, capt), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Harry Brook (Yorkshire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Ben Foakes (Surrey, wkt), Jack Leach (Somerset), Alex Lees (Durham), Craig Overton (Somerset), Matthew Potts (Durham), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Joe Root (Yorkshire)
Aug 17-21: England v South Africa, 1st Test, Lord’s
Aug 25-29: England v South Africa, 2nd Test, Old Trafford
Sep 8-12: England v South Africa, 3rd Test, The Oval