England have recalled Ben Foakes and Keaton Jennings to their Test squad for next month’s tour of Sri Lanka, with Jonny Bairstow left out of the touring party.
Neither Foakes nor Jennings have played for England since the tour of West Indies a year ago, but both thrived in Sri Lanka in the autumn of 2018. The Surrey wicketkeeper-batsman Foakes scored a century on debut in Galle, and topped the tourists’ average in that series with 277 runs at 69.25, while Jennings made a Test-best 146 not out in the same Galle Test.
The Lancashire left-hander will be looking to add to his 17 Test caps and has produced his best displays on the subcontinent, making a century on debut against India in Mumbai in 2016. Jack Leach returns to England’s spin-bowling ranks for the two-Test series after recovering from the illness that struck him in South Africa.
Bairstow, who was in the recent Test squad against South Africa as back-up and played in the defeat at Centurion in December, has struggled in red-ball cricket recently and misses out. Also absent is Jimmy Anderson, who is recovering from a cracked rib sustained during last month’s second Test against South Africa in Cape Town, and the England and Wales Cricket Board said the seamer will continue to work on his fitness in readiness for the start of the English season.
The national selector, Ed Smith, said the selection panel wanted “continuity” after England’s success in South Africa. “The selection panel has supported continuity after a successful series victory,” he said. “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 subcontinent conditions.” Of Bairstow, Smith said the Sri Lanka tour “presents a good opportunity for Jonny to be rested”.
The series forms part of the ICC World Test Championship in which Joe Root’s team currently stand in third place. The first Test against Sri Lanka takes place in Galle from 19-23 March, with the second in Colombo from 27-31 March.