England have recalled fast bowler James Anderson for the delayed fifth Test against India at Edgbaston yesterday.
Anderson missed the conclusion of England’s series whitewash of New Zealand when an ankle injury ruled him out of the third Test at Headingley.
But the 39-year-old, England’s all-time record Test wicket taker, will return to the side against India even though replacement Jamie Overton scored 97 on his debut in Leeds.
“Jamie got his opportunity to show what you can do in a cricket field and he gave the best account possible of himself,” England captain Ben Stokes told reporters at Edgbaston yesterday.
“He’s obviously someone that we see has a bright and long future for him going forward.
“It obviously must be very disappointing for him.
“That’s how sport at the top level can work sometimes.”
In another change to an England team announced almost 24 hours ahead of the toss, Sam Billings will take over as wicketkeeper.
Billings was called up at short notice during the New Zealand series finale for his second Test appearance as a Covid-19 substitute for first-choice gloveman Ben Foakes, who was also hampered by a stiff back at Headingley.
“Unfortunately Foakesy hasn’t recovered as well as we’d have liked him to. So Sam is going to stay in the team,” Stokes said. “(Foakes) hasn’t really recovered from last week and doesn’t feel like he could give the best account of himself this week. We took the decision out of his hands and said ‘get yourself better’.”
England could have handed the gloves to Jonny Bairstow, an experienced wicketkeeper at Test level, and given a debut to Yorkshire batsman Harry Brook. But, with Bairstow having scored 136 in the second Test against New Zealand and 162 in the series finale, the captain was keen for him to remain a specialist batsman. “Jonny is in the form of his life at the moment,” said Stokes. “We just want Jonny to concentrate on batting, because however he’s thinking is working.”
Today’s match should have been played in Manchester last September but, hours before it was due to start at Old Trafford, it was postponed because of Covid-19 concerns in the India camp. India, 2-1 up in the five-match series, will be led by stand-in captain Jasprit Bumrah after regular skipper Rohit Sharma was ruled out with Covid-19.
Former captain Virat Kohli is in the squad but team officials have entrusted the leadership to fast bowler Bumrah. India will face a rejuvenated England, who under their new leadership duo of Stokes and red-ball head coach Brendon McCullum swept New Zealand 3-0 after winning just one of their previous 17 Tests.
England team to play India
Zak Crawley, Alex Lees, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (capt), Sam Billings (wkt), Matthew Potts, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, James Anderson
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