Stokes, Archer rested for Sri Lanka Tests

Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes are rested from a strong Test squad to face Sri Lanka as England look to minimise bubble time for the two multi-format specialists before the back-to-back winter assignments within the sub-continent. The pair will miss the 2 Tests in Galle and can be expected to hitch the squad across the Palk Strait before the four-Test series against India in early February.

The 16-member squad sees a recall for Jonny Bairstow, the Yorkshireman who has played 70 Tests for England but none since December 2019. In 10 Tests the 31-year-old averaged only 18.55 in 2019 and passed fifty just twice during a surprising loss of red-ball form – while playing as a specialist batsman in 2018 in Srilanka he did hit a century.

His recall is based on the very fact that Ollie Pope is out with a shoulder injury while Rory Burns has been granted paternity leave. Pope, though, will visit Sri Lanka where he’ll continue his rehabilitation with a view to preparing for the India Tests that follow.

Bairstow’s return to the Britain whites was about confirmed when he withdrew from his Big Bash League stint with the Melbourne Stars. Meanwhile, Ben Foakes has been picked as a back-up gloveman. The 27-year-old famously hit a century on debut at Galle during England’s 3-0 sweep of the series in 2018 but hasn’t played a game since Antigua, 2019.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad lead the seam-bowling contingent that also features Mark Wood, Chris Woakes Sam Curran and Olly Stone. there’s no return to check cricket for Adil Rashid who took 12 wickets during England’s series win last time around with Moeen Ali, who has been forthcoming about his desire to play Test cricket, given the nod alongside Jack Leach and incumbent office, Dom Bess.

The two Tests, both of which can be played behind closed doors at Galle, will start on January 14 and 22 respectively. England will leave for Hambantota from London on January 2 and can train at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium between January 5-9. On January 27 they’ll depart Sri Lanka with the India series starting in Chennai on February 4.