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UNCAPPED batsmen Rory Burns and Joe Denly were named yesterday in England’s Test squad to tour Sri Lanka, alongside fellow rookie Olly Stone.
Alastair Cook’s retirement after 161 Tests left Ed Smith’s selection panel with a top-order conundrum which has been solved by a long-awaited summons for Surrey captain Burns and an international return for 32-year-old Denly.
Unlike Burns, the Kent veteran has played white-ball international cricket before, but has not been seen at the highest level since a Twenty20 in Dubai in February 2010.
Keaton Jennings, Cook’s last opening partner, retains his place in a 16-man squad despite a poor summer and senior seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad will both travel, scotching suggestions one or both could be rested for the three-match series.
Warwickshire seamer Stone, having already earned his place in the 50-over squad, continues his rapid ascent by taking his place alongside the established duo.
In the spin department, which is likely to be a major factor on the turning decks at Galle, Kandy and Colombo, Somerset’s 20-year-old Jack Leach returns alongside established pair Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.
Leach played his only Test in Christchurch before injury struck and could get the chance to play a big role.
Twenty-year-old Surrey prospect Ollie Pope also gets the nod, edging the more experienced James Vince for the final batting slot.
Referring to the three new faces, Smith said: “Rory Burns, who has led Surrey to the Championship title, has been the most consistent run-scorer in county cricket in recent seasons and fully deserves his elevation to the Test squad. Rory is the leading championship run-scorer this season with 1,319 at an average of 69.
“Joe Denly has had an excellent season with bat and ball and has matured into one of the leading players in county cricket. He has that all-round touch of class that can help at the highest level.
“Olly Stone is an exciting talent who bowls with pace and skill. His 37 wickets in the county championship have come at an average of 12.27 and a strike rate of 22.22.”
Ben Stokes was also included in the squad. The all-rounder was earlier this week charged with bringing the game into disrepute by the England and Wales Cricket Board and will face a disciplinary hearing in December over an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September last year.
Stokes denied a charge of affray and was cleared following a seven-day trial at Bristol Crown Court last month.
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