COLOMBO: Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer’s return to England duty for their India tour next month will be a major boost to the side as they seek a crucial series win over the world’s top Test nation, captain Joe Root said Thursday.
Stokes and Archer have missed England’s recent matches in Sri Lanka as the squad was rotated to allow players to rest during the coronavirus pandemic.
England lead the two-match series 1-0 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.
England then go on to India — who have been boosted by their historic Test win in Australia this week — for a series including four Tests.
Root was optimistic despite India’s sensational 2-1 win.
“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.
“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.”
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.
The two key players are expected to be announced in the Test squad for India to be revealed Thursday.
‘Ready to go’
“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.”
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 with the first Test scheduled in Chennai on February 5. They will also play five T20 matches and three one-day internationals.
Sri Lanka’s stand-in-captain Dinesh Chandimal lauded England’s performances going into the second Test.
“The most important thing, I think, is that they have planned well before they come to the series,” Chandimal said.
“When the situation comes everyone in the team executes the plan really well. I think as far as I am concerned that is the secret behind their team (success).”
England team for 2nd Test:
Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (capt), Dan Lawrence, Jos Buttler (w), Sam Curran, Dominic Bess, Jack Leach, Mark Wood, James Anderson.