Ollie Robinson has been picked by England after serving a ban for historical Tweets

Credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

England Men’s Head Coach Chris Silverwood has named a 17-player squad for opening two Tests of the LV= Insurance Test Series against India starting at Trent Bridge on August 4.

All-rounder Ben Stokes returns to the Test squad after he missed the two-match series against New Zealand in June with the fractured finger he sustained during the Indian Premier League.

Stokes captained England to a 3-0 series win in the Royal London Series against Pakistan earlier this month and has since rested to help ensure his fitness ahead of the India Tests.

Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Sam Curran also come back into the Test squad. Ollie Robinson is included after he took seven wickets on his Test debut against the Black Caps at Lord’s. 

Jofra Archer (right elbow) and Chris Woakes (bruised heel) are both unavailable due to injury.

Archer continues to progress following elbow surgery but is not ready at this point to return to Test cricket. Woakes suffered a bruised heel last week and is undergoing a rehabilitation programme aimed to allow him to be fit and available later in the series.

England Men’s Test Squad

England Men’s Head Coach, Chris Silverwood, said: “The returns of all-rounders Ben Stokes and Sam Curran provide balance that allows us to get back to a structure that has been successful in Test cricket.

“With Jos and Jonny back in the squad we have added further experience and quality that will be needed against the world’s second-ranked team.

“Ollie [Robinson] proved in that Test that he has the ability to replicate his outstanding form in the County Championship at international level and we will continue to work with him to develop his England career.”

The England Men’s Test squad will report to Loughborough on Wednesday 28 July ahead of the first LV= Insurance Test starting at Trent Bridge on Wednesday 4 August.

The players selected in this squad will be available to play in The Hundred for each team’s first two matches before joining the Test squad.

Bairstow’s experience with the gloves could come in handy during gruelling year

Bairstow was thrown in at the deep end in India

Credit: AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi

Jonny Bairstow’s recall to the Test squad is yet another twist in a career that continues to defy predictions of its end.

Bairstow’s career in long form cricket looked over when he made three ducks in four innings of the final two Tests against India in March batting at No 3 because he was no longer seen as a keeper by England.

England had chosen Jos Buttler as first-choice keeper and Ben Foakes his deputy for series in Sri Lanka and India. When Buttler went home after the first Test in Chennai, Foakes played the next three Tests.

Bairstow had been picked at No 3 in Sri Lanka and did reasonably well but agreed to a break as part of England’s controversial rest and rotation policy missing the first two matches in India, with the result he was thrown back into Test cricket with no preparation on raging turners in Ahmedabad. It is no wonder he failed. 

The decision to rest IPL players for the series against New Zealand was a convenient cover story in Bairstow’s case because it is highly unlikely he would have made the squad, signalling a change in direction. But then Foakes suffered a serious ankle injury slipping on the floor of the dressing room at the Oval and the situation changed.

James Bracey was first picked against New Zealand primarily as a specialist batsman, a potential top three option, but was pressed into keeping before he was ready. He froze under the pressure scoring eight in three innings, starting with two consecutive ducks, and was untidy with the gloves.

With Foakes still injured, and Bracey – who conceded 48 byes for Gloucestershire last week – unselectable England had no choice but to turn to Bairstow again when they named a 17 player squad this morning for the first two Tests against India.

Bracey had a difficult debut against New Zealand

Credit: Gareth Copley – ECB/ECB via Getty Images

There is also the prospect of the Ashes too. Talks between the England & Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia over arrangements covering the players’ families this winter are still ongoing.

The players fear they will have to go to Australia alone, with the Australian government reducing the number of precious visas it hands out as the country combats the spread of the Delta variant.

Buttler is a committed family man and it is possible to imagine him putting them first and not playing an entire Ashes series. Buttler will be in the Twenty20 World Cup squad and then fly straight to Australia.  It is a long time away from home, and while cricketers are used to months on tour, they have also become accustomed in modern times to being accompanied for large parts of trips by their partners and children.

If Buttler refuses to spend the entire Ashes tour away from his family he will be backed by the ECB and head coach Chris Silverwood, with both placing a strong emphasis on mental wellbeing.

It means England need an experienced keeper-batsman in reserve for what will be an even tougher tour than usual with no travelling England support or a family support system. On a cricketing level, England have doubts over Foakes’s ability to play high pace.

Bairstow too has had technical problems against pace and has averaged 23 in his last 22 Tests. It has been a gradual decline and blaming the selectors for shifting him up and down the order only stands up to so much scrutiny. Ultimately when playing for England, players have to take the chances they are given.

But with so many younger rivals failing to progress Bairstow is back and no doubt in the mood to prove wrong those who have written him off. It might only be as cover for Buttler initially, but don’t bet against Bairstow taking his chance.

England v Pakistan: LV= Insurance Test Series