Ben Stokes of England bowls against Pakistan at Emirates Old Trafford
Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler are set for a return to Test cricket having been named in England’s squad for their opening two matches against India, but Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes have been ruled out due to injury.
The pair, along with England’s other Test players involved in the Indian Premier League (IPL) earlier this year, were rested for England’s two-Test series against New Zealand earlier in the summer, while Stokes was also recovering from a fractured finger sustained at the IPL.
Fellow returnee Jonny Bairstow is named as a spare batsman and backup wicketkeeper after involvement with the Test side over the winter, while Nottinghamshire batsman Haseeb Hameed remains among a 17-man group containing few surprises named for the opening two games of a five-Test series.
Jofra Archer (elbow) and Chris Woakes (heel) are both unavailable for the opening two Tests due to injury, but Ollie Pope has overcome a thigh issue to be named in the squad.
“A home Test series against India is one of the most anticipated red-ball series and this promises to be an outstanding five Tests,” said Chris Silverwood, England men’s head coach.
“India are a quality team who have shown their ability to get results away from home. We are expecting a highly competitive series and have selected our strongest possible squad.
“The returns of all-rounders Ben Stokes and Sam Curran provide balance that allows us to get back to a structure that has been successful in Test cricket.”
Also included in the squad is Ollie Robinson, who enjoyed a breakthrough debut Test against New Zealand earlier in the summer but missed the second Test while serving a ban after admitting to sending racist and sexist tweets.
Jack Leach and Dom Bess will provide spin options, while the incumbent top three of Rory Burns, Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley have all retained their places.
Woakes’ absence continues a frustrating year for the Warwickshire all-rounder.
The 32-year-old was the Professional Cricketers’ Association men’s player of the year last year but did not play a single Test during the winter after being forced to self-isolate on the tour of Sri Lanka.
He was then rested for the New Zealand series after limited involvement at the IPL, and is now ruled out of a return to Test cricket with a bruised heel. It is hoped he may have some involvement later in the series.
Archer returned to action for Sussex last weekend but has been deemed not ready for Test cricket, and is expected to instead build his fitness up as part of the Southern Brave men’s side competing in the inaugural edition of the Hundred.
County teammate Robinson has, however, retained his place.
Silverwood said of the Sussex seam bowler: “Ollie proved that he has the ability to replicate his outstanding form in the County Championship at international level and we will continue to work with him to develop his England career.”
The first Test begins at Trent Bridge on 4 August, with the second scheduled for Lord’s.
India are currently warming up for the series with a fixture against a County Select XI containg Hameed and supplemented by a pair of Indian squad members.
England Men’s Test Squad
Joe Root (C) (Yorkshire)
James Anderson (Lancashire)
Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire)
Dom Bess (Yorkshire)
Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire)
Rory Burns (Surrey)
Jos Buttler (Lancashire)
Zak Crawley (Kent)
Sam Curran (Surrey)
Haseeb Hameed (Nottinghamshire)
Dan Lawrence (Essex)
Jack Leach (Somerset)
Ollie Pope (Surrey)
Ollie Robinson (Sussex)
Dom Sibley (Warwickshire)
Ben Stokes (Durham)
Mark Wood (Durham)
LV= Insurance Test Series
1st Test: England v Pakistan, 4-8 August 2021, Trent Bridge, Nottingham
2nd Test: England v Pakistan, 12-16 August 2021, Lord’s, London
3rd Test: England v Pakistan, 25-29 August 2021, Emerald Headingley, Leeds
4th Test: England v Pakistan, 2-6 September 2021, Kia Oval, London
5th Test: England v Pakistan, 10-14 September, Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester
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