Lawrence has not played for a month due to a hamstring complaint and has been left out of the squad, while Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan are among the recently capped top-order batters to miss out.
Craig Overton keeps his place ahead of his twin brother Jamie, who has impressed for Surrey in the County Championship, while Jack Leach retains his position as England’s main spinner despite Matt Parkinson’s eye-catching returns for Lancashire.
Key chaired the interim selection panel, with Brendon McCullum, England’s new head coach, providing inputs along with Stokes, ECB performance director Mo Bobat, player identification lead David Court and head scout James Taylor.
“This is the start of a new era for our Test team under the stewardship of Ben [Stokes] and Brendon [McCullum],” Key said. “With a blend of youth and experience, we have selected an exciting squad that can compete with New Zealand in next month’s Test series.
“We have rewarded players in Harry Brook and Matty Potts who have had outstanding starts to the county season, and they deserve the opportunity to stake a claim at this level. It promises to be a mouthwatering series, and I can’t wait for the team to start against a very good New Zealand side. It is a fascinating prospect for everyone connected with the sport in this country.”
Brook, the Yorkshire batter, is the leading run-scorer in Division One of the Championship this year with 758 runs in eight innings at a remarkable average of 151.60. He has made three hundreds, and his innings of 41 against Lancashire last week was the first time this season he has failed to reach a half-century.
Brook made his England T20I debut earlier this year in Barbados and was the PCA’s Young Player of the Year for 2021 after a stunning breakthrough summer in white-ball cricket, but appears to be the ‘spare’ batter in this squad.
Potts, the Durham seamer, has also enjoyed a bright start to the Championship season. He has taken 35 wickets at 18.57 across his first six games, 11 more than anyone else in the country, and has impressed his county team-mate Stokes with his ability to sustain his pace across spells.
Players in the squad will be available for selection in this week’s round of Championship fixtures which start on Thursday. The squad will come together in a camp at Loughborough next week before travelling to London on May 29 before the first Test on June 2.
England squad for first two Tests: Ben Stokes (capt), Alex Lees, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Harry Brook, Ben Foakes, Craig Overton, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jack Leach, Matthew Potts