Joe Root left in a spin for Sri Lanka Tests as key duo of Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali shun England’s tour next month
- Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali are unlikely to participate in the English tour through Sri Lanka
- Joe Root and the selectors face a problem when they are looking for more spin options
- Hampshire’s all-rounder, Liam Dawson, has become a prominent candidate
- Jos Buttler is likely to retain his place despite recent underwhelming displays
The test side of England is desperately looking for spin options. So Adil Rashid who excludes himself from next month’s Sri Lanka tour – both bowling in Johannesburg on Sunday and having suffered a right shoulder injury since last year – would have been a painful blow.
Rashid was an important member of England’s three-pronged spider attack when they won 3-0 18 months ago in Sri Lanka. But his insistence that he play a red ball cricket with Yorkshire before a test comeback will send the selectors back to episode 1.
The good news is that Jack Leach, who left South Africa due to illness prior to the third test, should be fully fit for that two-test tour next month. And his Somerset team-mate Dom Bess is now an automatic choice after excelling in Port Elizabeth.
It seems almost certain that Moeen Ali will continue his self-imposed exile test for Sri Lanka
Adil Rashid bowed excellently against South Africa, but excluded himself from Sri Lanka
But England still wants a third spinner in the team, although Sri Lanka is expected to offer better pitches in Galle and Colombo than in 2018, when they were defeated with their own spinning game.
Test captain Joe Root and coach Chris Silverwood met Moeen Ali last week to discuss his availability, but it seems almost certain that he will continue his self-imposed test exile and fulfill his obligations in the Pakistan Super League.
That leaves the closet virtually bare, with Hampshire all-rounder Liam Dawson emerging as a first candidate in the likely absence of Moeen and Rashid.
Matt Parkinson has participated in the last two test trips in England, but the Lancashire leggie was poor in the warm-up matches in South Africa and can be left behind to focus on white-ball cricket.
It seems that England will go with Dawson or with a dependence on Joe Root’s off-spin.
Jack Leach should be fully suitable for the tour next month, but England still wants a spinner
England’s other problems for appointing their team this week are in the field of wicketkeeping and the No. 3 position, with Jos Buttler and Joe Denly expecting to keep their place despite the overwhelming impressions in the 3- win. 1 test series on South Africa.
Buttler, perhaps England’s most gifted cricket player, retains the belief of seniors who think he is just too good to be discarded in any format, while Denly is likely to get the two tests in March to show that he can improve with a stroke average in the test of 30.
Jonny Bairstow worked hard in South Africa with assistant trainer Graham Thorpe on his red-ball technique and is a strong candidate to replace Denly.
Joe Root and the selectors face a difficult decision, with many first choice bowlers out
Their decision will affect Ben Foakes, the last-time player of the series in Sri Lanka, who travels back to Buttler if Bairstow is completely omitted, but England wants him to improve his batting against the short ball if he wants have been considered as a long-term member of the side.
Jofra Archer’s injury increases England’s need for senior fast bowlers, but Sportsmail understands that attention has been paid to taking Jimmy Anderson to Sri Lanka as a non-team member.
Anderson recovered from a crack in his 6 mm ribs that ended his series in South Africa during the second test, but he was now able to provide expertise to other seamen in the squad while enjoying excellent outdoor conditions to ensure his suitability for the summer series against the West Indies and Pakistan.
Hampshire’s all-rounder, Liam Dawson, is emerging as the most important candidate to replace them
England will have to defeat their backroom staff in their quest to become double world champions following an ICC rule change that limits official team staff to 23 major tournaments.
Under the restrictions set for the Twenty20 World Cup in October in Australia, a country can select up to 15 players and eight off-field employees. A team doctor can also be present at the expense of an individual country.
Before the march last summer for a first 50-over title, England sometimes had 16 support staff plus Dr. Mark Wotherspoon, bringing the overall lot number to 31.