England recall Ben Foakes and Keaton Jennings in squad for Sri Lanka tour but Moeen Ali remains unavailable

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England have handed Test recalls to Keaton Jennings and Ben Foakes for their upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.

The 16-man squad also sees a return for Jack Leach, who left the tour of South Africa with a Test to spare after battling illness throughout the winter. Jonny Bairstow, the spare batsman for last month’s series, which England won 3-1, has not made the cut this time around. 

Jennings and Foakes find themselves back in the fray, in part, because of their performances against Sri Lanka back in November 2018. 

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Jennings averaged 46 from 233 runs, with one century, in that three-match series, showing particular expertise against the turning ball with his array of conventional and reverse sweeps. His position in the squad was ultimately confirmed due to injury to Rory Burns which ruled him out of the tour. 

For Foakes, those three Tests came about as an injury replacement for Bairstow, and he made an immediate impression in front and behind the stumps with a century on debut and a flawless performance with the keeping gloves. It was a standard he maintained across the low, turning surfaces of Galle, Pallekele and Colombo. He went on to earn two more caps against the West Indies in January 2019. Like Jennings, he has not featured since the Caribbean. 


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Moeen Ali, who last played Test cricket in August, remains unavailable for Test selection, despite some talk that the off-spinner may be drafted in to bolster the spin stocks. Adil Rashid, too, was a speculative shout before he effectively ruled himself out after a man-of-the-match performance of three for 51 in the third ODI against South Africa. Both, along with Leach, were England’s leading wicket-takers on the previous tour of Sri Lanka with 48 dismissals between them. 

It means England go into the tour with the relatively experienced trio of Leach, Matt Parkinson and Dom Bess. 

Commenting on the selection of the squad, National Selector Ed Smith, said: “The selection panel has supported continuity after a successful series victory in South Africa. The South Africa tour marked the emergence of a very exciting group of young players, creating a nice balance with an experienced core of senior players. That squad is mostly retained, with some tweaks to the squad relevant to injury, rest and the challenges of playing in sub-continent conditions.

“Somerset spinner Jack Leach has recovered from his illness he picked up in South Africa and is now healthy and keen to resume his Test career.

“Jonny Bairstow has been in England squads across the three formats without a significant break. This two-Test tour presents a good opportunity for Jonny to be rested.

“Moeen Ali is still unavailable for Test selection. The selectors are in consistent dialogue with Moeen and he remains a valued player in England cricket.”

Lancashire seamer James Anderson, who is recovering from a cracked rib sustained in January during the second Test in Cape Town against South Africa, will continue to condition and prepare ahead of the start of the English season.

The two-match Test series forms part of the ICC World Test Championship. Joe Root’s team are in third place and will be looking to close in on India and Australia, who lead the standings. The top two teams at the end of the two-year cycle will compete in the ICC World Test Championship Final in England in June 2021.

England 16-man Test squad for Sri Lanka tour:

Joe Root (Yorkshire) captain

Dominic Bess (Somerset)

Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire)

Jos Buttler (Lancashire)

Zak Crawley (Kent)

Sam Curran (Surrey)

Joe Denly (Kent)

Ben Foakes (Surrey)

Keaton Jennings (Lancashire)

Jack Leach (Somerset)

Matthew Parkinson (Lancashire)

Ollie Pope (Surrey)

Dominic Sibley (Warwickshire)

Ben Stokes (Durham) vice-captain

Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)

Mark Wood (Durham)

 

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