England on Friday announced a 16-player squad for the tour of Sri Lanka scheduled early next month, and all-rounder Ben Stokes and pacer Jofra Archer have been rested for the series in order to minimize the bubble time for the all-rounders.
Ben Stokes, whose father Ged recently passed away after battling brain cancer, and Jofra Archer will return for the series in India in February 2021. England also named seven reserve players for the Sri Lanka series starting on January 14.
Along with Stokes and Archer, opening batsman Rory Burns will also miss the Tests in Sri Lanka in order to be with his wife as the couple is expecting their first child.
“There must be room for sensible rotation in and out of the squad,” chief selector Ed Smith told reporters.
“Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer and those who are multi-format players will have blocks of rest. It’s impossible for people to go straight through six Tests.”
The 33-year-old all-rounder Moeen Ali is also included in the Test squad for the first time since 2019 while wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow is recalled after being dropped a year ago.
Bairstow was dropped from the squad after a string of poor performances in the longest format of the game. Bairstow averaged only 18.55 in 10 Tests in 2019 and passed fifty just twice.
Smith said it was an opportunity for other players such as Bairstow who is keen to re-establish himself in the test squad.
“Jonny has missed out on selection over the last year but this felt like the right moment with his pedigree playing spin in Asia, it’s the perfect moment for him.”
Ollie Pope has also missed out due to a shoulder injury. However, Pope will travel to Sri Lanka where he’ll continue his rehabilitation with a view to getting ready for the series in India.
England will fly for Sri Lanka on January 2 and will play both Tests at the Galle International Cricket Stadium, the first starting on January 14 and the second on January 22. Both Tests will be behind closed doors.
England Test Squad:
Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
Reserves: James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi.