Joe Root has rejected claims that his promotion to No.3 for the Test series against Pakistan will weaken the England line-up.
Sheffielder Root will move up one spot from four against the tourists, following Nick Compton’s decision to take a break from cricket after a poor run of form.
With Ben Stokes injured, England’s middle order looks a little vulnerable without the side’s best player - but Root pointed to the example of Jonny Bairstow, who averaged 129 in England’s series win over Sri Lanka earlier this year.
“I think it’s probably harsh to say our middle order is a work in progress,” Root said.
“Someone like Jonny would consider himself a middle order batsman, and he’s taken his game to another level.
“This series here now is a great opportunity for guys to stand up and really put some strong performances in.
“Guys like James Vince who will really be looking forward to getting back out playing red-ball cricket again.
“He’s got a little bit of experience under his belt and will gain confidence from that.”
The first Test at Lord’s, which begins today, will see Mohammad Amir play Test cricket for the first time since his 2010 ban for spot-fixing.
Amir was convicted of conspiring to accept corrupt payments and conspiring to cheat after the affair, also at Lord’s, which cast a shadow over the game.
“We all take him as out young brother - he is a part of our family,” said fellow Pakistani left-armer Wahab Riaz.
“Everybody is supporting him - we are all behind him.”
One man who knows all about bowling at Lord’s, meanwhile, is Ryan Sidebottom, the vetteran Yorkshire bowler who made his England debut at the Home of Cricket, against Pakistan, in May 2001.
Sidebottom has also seen Root’s elevation from a cheeky Yorkshire youngster to one of the best players in world cricket, and couldn’t be prouder of the 25-year-old from Sheffield Collegiate.
“Joe is known as ‘Jack The Snipper’ in the dressing rooms for his pranks,” Sidebottom told The Star.
“He has a really cheeky side! But he has done so well for himself and is genuinely a lovely lovely guy.
“He plays the game with a smile and over the last three years has stayed very level headed. But then again us Yorkshire folk are good at doing that!”
Sidebottom, currently out of the Yorkshire side with an ankle injury, has won five County Championship titles and is looking for a third in a row with Yorkshire, his home county.
“I am incredibly lucky to have achieved what I have done,” said 38-year-old Sidebottom, who took a hat-trick for England against New Zealand in 2008 and was part of the Twenty20 World Cup winning squad two years later.
“I just take each day as it comes and of course I want to work in cricket forever. I hope to be back playing as soon as I can, and it has been so frustrating not being able to whilst being injured.
“But I am working out training every day and can’t wait to get back.”
And when he does eventually hang up his bowling boots?
“I always want to work in cricket,” he smiles.
“Maybe I will retire after the next year or so... we shall see.
“Perhaps I could work as a bowling coach but whatever I do I will always stay in the game.”
n Sidebottom was speaking at an event at B&Q on Queen’s Road, Sheffield.