Stuart Broad is at risk of being omitted from an England Test tour for the first time since his debut 11 years ago. England are currently preparing their squad for the tour of Sri Lanka, which will be announced in two weeks, and are strongly considering leaving Broad out.
Broad remains in England’s plans going forward, and has enjoyed a good summer, taking 22 wickets at 26.00 apiece so far.
But his record in Asia is underwhelming and it is unclear how he would fit into England’s first-choice XI for the first Test in Galle, where pitches are certain to turn prodigiously.
Rather than select him as a squad player for Sri Lanka, England may consider that they are better served by giving Broad an extended rest ahead of the tour to the West Indies and next summer’s Ashes series.
Conditions are likely to demand that three frontline spinners are selected for each game. England are likely to take four spinners – Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Jack Leach and Dom Bess, with the first three expected to play every Test.
James Anderson, who has been outstanding once again this summer, could share the new ball with Sam Curran, supported by Ben Stokes.
A young promising quick bowler – like Somerset’s Jamie Overton or Warwickshire’s 24-year-old Olly Stone, who can bowl over 90mph and has taken 15 wickets across his last two County Championship matches – will be considered too. But England Lions’ parallel tour to the UAE will give selectors the flexibility to add players if necessary.
The retirement of Alastair Cook will also necessitate changes in batting personnel. Keaton Jennings is regarded as possessing an exceptional temperament but has not scored a Test half-century for 18 innings. But a combination of Cook’s retirement and Jennings’ century in Mumbai on debut two years ago should ensure that he retains his place in the squad.
Surrey’s captain Rory Burns, the top runscorer in Division One this season, will tour too. Kent’s Joe Denly, who briefly played limited overs cricket for England in 2009/10, is poised to be picked as a cover batsman – he could bat anywhere in the top six, and also bowls useful legspin.
Both Ollie Pope and James Vince will have a chance to push their cases for selection over the final two rounds of the County Championship, but England consider Pope a player of huge potential and it would be a surprise if he is not picked.
Jennings, Burns, Denly, Root, Bairstow, Buttler, Pope, Moeen, Stokes, Woakes, Sam Curran, Rashid, Leach, Bess, Anderson.