The final week of the England cricket season could involve players hopping from national duty into the last round of the County Championship, with Will Jacks, Jamie Smith and possibly Zak Crawley having a chance to be released for battles at the top and bottom of Division One.
All three are in the squad for the third one-day international against Ireland in Bristol on Tuesday, with Crawley captaining a second-string England side that is trying to secure a 2-0 series victory after the one-sided 48‑run win at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
But England have opened up the chance for Jacks and Smith to play for Surrey from day two of their match at Hampshire, where the defending champions need just five points to secure the title. Crawley could also be granted a late entrance into Kent’s fixture at home against Lancashire, his side one point above ninth-placed Middlesex and battling the drop.
If so, Surrey and Kent would be permitted to make changes to their teams mid-match. Under the County Championship’s playing conditions they would have to inform the umpires of the players slated to step down before the toss. Should a nominated player still be batting, they must complete their innings before the England player swaps in.
It may be that after making his debut on the weekend, the 23‑year‑old Smith sits out England’s final game of the summer anyway, with Matthew Mott, the head coach, said to be keen to give every member of the 13-man squad a chance. This would mean a first cap for Tom Kohler-Cadmore, with either Phil Salt or Ben Duckett taking the wicketkeeping gloves.
Luke Wood, Lancashire’s left-arm seamer, was the other reserve in Nottingham, meaning one of Matthew Potts, Brydon Carse or George Scrimshaw will be asked to take a blow.
As well as jostling for a chance to be placed on stand-by for England’s impending World Cup campaign, the Ireland match is also one last chance for the rookies to work with Andrew Flintoff during his brief spell as a consultant coach.
Marcus Trescothick, the batting coach, praised his former teammate a day before the match, saying: “The guys have really taken to him. A couple of times he’s spoken in the changing room and it’s been like ‘wow’.
“I’ve seen the progression of him as a character, the way he talks and delivers messages to players has been superb.
“To have him sprinkling a bit of gold dust around the team and having the younger players working with that has been invaluable really. You can’t put a price on it. Hopefully we’ll see more of him in the future.”