BURY cricketer John Simpson is heading back to Middlesex after his adventure with England.

The wicketkeeper-batsman, who turned 33 on Tuesday, received a shock first-international call-up after the ECB were forced to name an entirely new squad for the series against Pakistan after a Covid outbreak.

Simpson kept wicket in all three games as the makeshift England side romped to an impressive 3-0 whitewash of the tourists.

The opening victory at Cardiff came by nine wickets, the former St Gabriel’s RC High School pupil taking two catches behind the stumps while not being required to bat.

Simpson made headlines in the second game at Lord’s, playing in front of his home crowd at the home of cricket, taking a stunning catch off Lancashire leg-spinner Matt Parkinson to remove Faheem Ashraf after anticipating a sweep shot and snaffling the ball down the leg side.

Having made 17 in his first England innings, the Parkinson grab was one of five catches as Ben Stokes’ men won by 52 runs to seal the series with a game to spare in front of a 23,000-strong crowd.

England made it a hat-trick at Edgbaston with a three-wicket win, Simpson taking two catches and making three with the bat.

For Simpson, that could be that in terms of an unlikely England career that he thought must have passed him by.

He played Lancashire League cricket for Haslingden when only 10 years old and went on to represent Lancashire from Under-11 upwards.

Yet, despite appearing for Lancashire seconds and earning his first England Under-19s call-up for the 2005 tour of Bangladesh, it took a move to Middlesex to realise his professional cricketing ambitions.

The remarkable series drew praise from usual skipper Eoin Morgan, one of those forced into isolation.

He tweeted: “15 of the current squad in isolation. Buttler and Archer injured. What Ben Stokes and the team have achieved is incredible.”

Morgan is one of nine players in the original party recalled for the T20 series, Simpson not involved.

Saqib Mahmood, Lewis Gregory and Matt Parkinson have all been rewarded for their roles in the clean sweep of wins in the ODIs and now move onto the shorter format.

Stokes, who rushed his return from finger surgery to lead the shadow side, is rested as Morgan reclaims the reins. Jos Buttler is also included after recovering from a calf injury.

Of those who were in the original ODI squad, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, Mark Wood, Sam Billings, Liam Dawson and George Garton remain out.

Silverwood said: “I would like to express my thanks to the players for their efforts over the last week, and the counties for their support in getting this series on.”