London August 17 2023 : England have named a provisional 15-member squad for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 with tearaway quick Gus Atkinson a surprise inclusion in the group.
Atkinson's maiden call-up to the England squad comes on the back of strong performances in the County Championship and The Hundred. The Surrey quick clocked 95 mph in The Hundred and notably made Jos Buttler uncomfortable in a manic face-off in the tournament last week.
The 25-year-old has had his share of injuries with stress fractures right through his career putting a dent on his match count across formats. Atkinson has only played 14 first-class matches, 2 List A games and 41 T20s till date.
Interestingly, his last appearance in a professional fifty-overs game came two years ago, making his call-up a big gamble from England. Luke Wright, England's National Selector, though, is confident that the fast bowler would be a "real asset" for them.
"First and foremost, Gus deserves to be in there," Wright said while announcing the squad.
"I'm sure everyone's been watching him, he's hugely exciting and he's been outstanding, not just in the Hundred but also how he's gone in the Blast. He roughed me up on a few occasions when I was still playing and marked my card. He's a real asset for us and we're delighted to give him an opportunity."
Atkinson's surprise call-up has already drawn comparisons to Jofra Archer, who missed out on a World Cup spot this time around with his recovery in progress.
Archer turned up right before the 2019 World Cup in England and returned as one of England's best performers in the title-winning campaign, taking 20 wickets in 11 matches and finishing as the third-highest wicket-taker in the tournament.
Aside from the obvious similarity in terms of pace to Archer, Atkinson's smooth run-up and sharp bouncers give England an X-factor as they head to India to defend the title.