Visitors announce squad for opening two games of four-match series
England’s Test captain Joe Root has called on side to come out guns blazing in their upcoming series against India.
The side named Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer in the squad as he said that the two will be a major boost for the side, which is looking for a crucial series win.
Stokes and Archer have missed England’s recent matches in Sri Lanka as the squad was rotated to allow players to rest during the pandemic.
The star duo along with Rory Burns will be back with the team as England announced a 16-member squad for the opening two of the four Tests in India starting February 5 in Chennai.
England will face an Indian side boosted by their historic Test win in Australia this week, but Root was optimistic despite India’s sensational 2-1 triumph.
“I expect India to be full of confidence and in their own conditions they are a very good team. They play some very good cricket,” he told reporters before of the official announcement. “We have to be at our absolute best but that’s an exciting prospect for us, a great opportunity for us, it’s a great way to aid our development as a side and we will be going there fully expecting to try and win that series but we have got a lot of hard work to do before we get there. We got a big Test match here.”
England lead the two-match series 1-0 in Sri Lanka going into the final Test on Friday in Galle. England have called back fast bowler James Anderson and will rest Stuart Broad for the clash.
Root’s 228 was crucial to winning the opening Test by seven wickets but England’s bowlers twice bowled out the hosts in Galle.
The shuffling of their veteran fast bowlers was the only change made to the team for the second Test. But it is the return of Stokes and Archer for the India series that excites Root.
“You speak to any side in the world, those two guys coming back into it would give the squad a huge boost and it’s certainly the case for us,” said Root. “We are excited to see them back in and around the squad. Hopefully they are full of energy and ready to go when they get here.”
Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood, who are currently in Sri Lanka, have been rested for the first two India matches.
Surrey batsman Ollie Pope will travel to India and will be added to the squad when passed fit as he recovers from a shoulder injury.
England selector Ed Smith said wicketkeeper Jos Buttler will return home after the opening Test in Chennai.
“There will be one Test where we have two wicketkeeper batsman in Ben Foakes and James Bracey, then Jonny is back for Tests three and four,” Smith said.
Root said it was important to give players a rest from the bubble life that touring teams are currently living in.
This year’s cricket calendar remains packed, including the Twenty20 World Cup.
“It’s a huge year of Test cricket and also a World Cup, a lot of one-day cricket alongside. We’re going to have to look after players,” said Root. “It’s crucial we’ve got guys who are fit and raring to go, physically and mentally, for everything that’s going to be thrown at us in the next 12 months.”
England will travel to India from Sri Lanka and will play five T20 matches and three one-day internationals after the Tests.
Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (capt), Dan Lawrence, Jos Buttler (w), Sam Curran, Dominic Bess, Jack Leach, Mark Wood, James Anderson
England Squad for first two India Tests: Joe Root (captain), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes
Reserves: James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi