Adam Lyth, the Yorkshire batsman will be making his debut in the first Test against New Zealand, starting next week © Getty Images
Adam Lyth, the Yorkshire batsman will be making his debut in the first Test against New Zealand, starting next week © Getty Images

London: Adam Lyth is so delighted by the prospect of making his England debut that the thought of becoming his country’s 666th Test match cricketer does not disturb him one bit. The 27-year-old Yorkshire opener was named on Thursday  in a 12-man squad for next week’s first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s and is sure to be included as captain Alastair Cook’s partner at the top of the order, barring a late injury, following Jonathan Trott’s retirement.

Mark Wood, the uncapped Durham paceman, has also been included in the squad but if both players make the XI when the teams are named at the toss a week on Thursday, Lyth would become England’s 666th Test player on the grounds of alphabetical order. The number is widely associated with the Devil in Christianity owing to Chapter 13 Verse 18 in the New Testament Book of Revelation: “Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six (666).”

It is understood the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will allow the next debutant to skip 666 if they so wish but Lyth was unconcerned. “Any Test number, I’m not bothered,” he told www.ecb.co.uk. “A Test debut at Lord’s, walking through the Long Room with Alastair Cook to open the batting for England — it doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

“It will be one of the proudest moments of my life, and the same for my family. My mum and dad will definitely be coming down, and my wife — and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a few more on the train from Whitby.” The second and final Test of the series takes place at Headingley — Lyth’s Yorkshire home ground in Leeds.

“The only place that would go close to Lord’s for me is Headingley, and the second Test is there – which is perfect. I have had to wait a while for this, and I’ve had to work hard over the years with Yorkshire. Now it’s here I just want to enjoy it, hopefully put on a show and score some runs.” Both Lyth and Wood were members of England’s touring party in the West Indies but neither played in any of the three Tests during a series that ended level at 1-1.

“I loved the experience of touring with England in the West Indies,” said Lyth. “I learned a lot — and being around the lads means it’s going to be a lot easier coming in, having spent a lot of time with all of them out there.” Lyth had a superb home season last year, making 1,489 County Championship runs at an average of 67.68 as Yorkshire — coached by former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie — won their first title since 2001.

Since former England captain Andrew Strauss — now England’s director of cricket — retired three years ago, five different batsmen have so far been tried as Cook’s opening partner. But none of the quintet — Nick Compton, Joe Root, Michael Carberry, Sam Robson and Trott — have lasted more than nine Tests at the top of the order.

Lyth, though hopes he can hold on to his place for the subsequent Ashes series at home to Australia. “I’m sure there will be a lot of nerves next week but I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead. Hopefully, I can be in the side for a long period now and would love to play an Ashes series.”