DURHAM’S Ben Stokes is in the England squad for next week’s two Twenty20 matches against New Zealand.
The all-rounder is joined in the squad by two uncapped players, Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance and Warwickshire pace bowler Boyd Rankin.
Kevin Pietersen is set to make a surprise return to England duty in the second game, at the Oval.
Pietersen, who has been out of cricket with a knee injury since March, is first expected to make his comeback for Surrey against Yorkshire at Headingley in an LV= County Championship match which starts tomorrow.
But the England and Wales Cricket Board also announced this morning that the mercurial batsman is part of a 14-man squad to face the Kiwis under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan.
England’s regular Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad is, as expected, rested from the short series - along with the majority of the likely first-choice squad for this summer’s Ashes, which begins on July 10.
National selector Geoff Miller, said: “We have selected a squad with plenty of Twenty20 experience, as well as young players new to the international game.
“With an intense period of cricket coming up, we are conscious that we need to manage the workloads of our players throughout the summer - and this NatWest series gives an opportunity for players who have performed well in domestic cricket and on the England performance programme and with the Lions to step up and test themselves in an international environment.
“New Zealand are a talented limited-overs side - and with a World Twenty20 competition less than a year away, this series gives us a chance to look at a number of different options.”
England Twenty20 squad, against New Zealand at The Oval on June 25 and 27: EJG Morgan (Captain), GS Ballance, RS Bopara, DR Briggs JC Buttler (wkt), JW Dernbach, AD Hales, MJ Lumb, *KP Pietersen, WB Rankin, BA Stokes, JC Tredwell, CR Woakes, LJ Wright
* Pietersen will be available for match on June 27 only.