ICC announces Player of the Month awards starting January; Pant, Root others in contention
27 Jan 2021
As the full squad has reached India for the four-match Test series against the home side, the touring England side is confident of having all the first choice players available for the first Test starting February 05 in Chennai.
Among players who were not in Sri Lanka, Ben Stokes, Rory Burns and Jofra Archer have arrived straight from England are under strict quarantine away from the contingent who were on the tour of Sri Lanka where the team management had the liabilities of some illness and fitness issues with some players.
Two of the important members of the squad who were there in Sri Lanka were unavailable for selection—Ollie Pope and Moeen Ali should be ready to play in Chennai in the words of head coach Chris Silverwood. Pope was undergoing rehabilitation of his shoulder injury that needed surgeries, while Moeen Ali contracted the new variant of Covid-19 and tested positive upon arrival in the island nation.
"I'm hoping Ollie will be able to throw his hat in the ring for that first Test. The sooner we can get him back the better it is for us. Moeen should be available for the first Test, too. He's been through everything he needs to go through and is progressing nicely,” Silverwood said in Galle after the completion of the Test series against Sri Lanka.
It is understood that Rory Burns who was on paternity leave during Sri Lanka will return at the top of the order with Dominic Sibley while Zak Crawley who was shifted up the order in the absence of Burns will reclaim his number three slot. Jonny Bairstow has been excluded from the squad for the first two Tests of the series and it would mean Root, Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope will form the middle order for the England side in Chennai. Jos Buttler is all but set to don the gloves in the first two Tests against India while Ben Foakes will wait for his chances.
The return of Stokes will provide Root and Silverwood with the chance of playing two spinners and find a perfect balance with him being the third seamer.
Two spinners in Jack Leach and Dom Bess bowled brilliantly in Sri Lanka and hence it would be a tough call for the management whenever they face that decision of playing only one among them with the return of Moeen Ali who will also provide batting support to the team.
Pacer Jofra Archer will replace Mark Wood in the pace department while the English team management is likely to rotate old horses in James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
The England team management is already under criticism from former players for not fielding their best XI and focussing too far ahead on winning the Ashes and the return of first-choice players will boost Root and Silverwood’s chance of selecting the best eleven to challenge India in their own backyard.
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