Moeen Ali expressed pride in leading England in Pakistan but dismissed the suggestion that the tourists had brought a second-string team for the seven Twenty20 internationals between the teams.
Jos Buttler has made the trip but the England white-ball captain is worried about rushing his return from a calf injury suffered on The Hundred, especially with the T20 World Cup in Australia just a month away.
Although he is optimistic he could feature later in the series, he will miss Tuesday’s opener in Karachi, so Moeen takes on the captaincy role for England’s first game in Pakistan since late 2005.
As a Pakistani-born English cricketer, this tour was long seen as having special resonance for Moeen and he admitted what a privilege it was to take on the duties of skipper.
He said, “One hundred percent. My roots being from here and leading England in such an important and historic series is huge.
“It’s a very proud moment for me and my family, my mom and my dad and everyone.
“Of course, my family is very happy and my friends and my community (too), and everyone I feel like I represent is very happy for me.
“To captain England in any game anywhere in the world is a huge honour.”
While Buttler recovers, Jonny Bairstow and Liam Livingstone miss the tour altogether after adding to England’s unfortunate run with injuries, with a host of fast bowlers still sidelined – although Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are about to get back in action after missing the entire Summer Programs.
Jason Roy has been dropped after poor form over the summer while England Test captain Ben Stokes is taking a break from his heroics, opening up opportunities for those on the sidelines.
Tom Helm, Luke Wood, Will Jacks and Jordan Cox are uncapped at international level and Olly Stone hasn’t played a T20 for England.
With Harry Brook, Liam Dawson, Ben Duckett, Richard Gleeson and Phil Salt yet to reach double digits in T20 international appearances, there is a cooler feel to England’s 20-man squad.
But Moeen said England are in a period of transition and some of the less established figures have valuable experience in the domestic T20 franchise leagues on the sub-continent.
Speaking at a press conference in Karachi, Moeen, who has captained England in four T20s over the past two years, added: “It’s not by selection, it’s more by because of unfortunate injuries. We still have a very good team.
“Throughout the summer we had serious injuries but it gives good opportunities for new players to come in and there would always have been new players in the team because the cycle has changed.
“The team we are bringing, I think we are a very good white ball team. White ball players from England have come (here for the Pakistan Super League).
“Phil Salt is someone who is a fantastic player, Will Jacks and Harry Brook have also done well in the PSL. Those guys are very, very good players, I wouldn’t say they are second to none. rank.”