Head coach Chris Silverwood embarked on a supermarket sweep of the domestic system after a Covid outbreak wiped out the entire one-day squad just a couple of days before the Royal London Series, with nine uncapped players and a handful of returning faces answering the call.
Gallant defeat would have been a perfectly reasonable outcome in the circumstances, but instead they delivered an outright thrashing of the tourists – roaring to a nine-wicket victory which required only 67.1 of the scheduled 100 overs.
Gregory, one of five players to make their ODI debuts at Sophia Gardens, played his part when he removed the dangerous Mohammad Rizwan with the new ball, but the collective strength of the performance was decisive.
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Player-of-the-match Saqib Mahmood led the attack in style on just his fifth appearance, Brydon Carse bowled with fire on his international bow, while Zak Crawley and Yorkshire’s Dawid Malan compiled an effortless, unbeaten century stand despite minimal experience in the format.
“It shows the strength in depth of the white-ball cricket in this country,” said Gregory, who will hope to keep his place for today’s second ODI at Lord’s.
“There are a lot of guys who have been brought up with T20 and you see that in the way people go about their cricket. It was a fantastic result and it shows the calibre that is in county cricket and what they can do on the big stage.
“There are a lot of guys who are thankful for what county cricket has given them, it’s an opportunity for them to showcase what they can do on the big stage.
“The standard in English cricket is very very good and I think you see that across the Blast and the Royal London competition – the standard across the UK is phenomenal.”