James Anderson is to be replaced by Stuart Broad in for the final Test of the series against Sri Lanka in Colombo, while England have also confirmed that Jonny Bairstow will come in for the injured Sam Curran.
With England having taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in Pallekele, they are taking the opportunity to rest Anderson and give Broad a run with a view to matches later in the winter.
“The thinking is that, with the series sewn up, it’s an opportunity to rotate,” Anderson said. “The management want Broady to get some Test cricket under his belt before we go to the West Indies.”
With England’s next Test, in Barbados, more than two months away, it is debatable what benefit Broad will derive from the match, but it will not be the only change. After Curran suffered a side strain in the second Test, they have decided to alter the balance of the team by bringing back Bairstow to bat at No. 3.
Although Bairstow has not given up on winning back the wicketkeeper’s gloves, which he lost to Ben Foakes after straining ankle ligaments during the one-day series, the possibility of a route back as a specialist batsman had been floated. He will become England’s fourth No. 3 of the series, after Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Keaton Jennings (due to the use of a nightwatchman).The confirmation of England’s XI also means no debut for fast bowler Olly Stone. While the pitch in Colombo would have been unlikely to offer much assistance to Stone, it may have been interesting to see how he handled the pressures of playing at the highest level ahead of selection for the Caribbean tour.
In the end, strengthening the batting was the logical choice. The third seamer in Pallekele, Stokes, bowled only one over in the match, while Anderson was the only seamer to bowl in the second innings.
The decision to bring in Broad ends a tour that Anderson described as “frustrating”. He has taken only one wicket – and that with his second ball of the series – and, despite his best efforts, found it hard to coax any life out of the pitches or the Kookaburra ball. He is, therefore, delighted to hear that the Duke’s ball is to be used in the Caribbean series.
“It’s been a frustrating trip for me really because you want to contribute to the wins,” Anderson said.
“But I feel like I’ve tried my best but it’s not really been a series for the seamers.
“You go into the games with the best intentions and try and work hard in the nets and make sure you’ve got all the skills you need to get wickets out here. But the opportunities for me to bowl in games have been fairly limited. Bowling a seven-over spell in Kandy, which I thought I bowled pretty well with the second ball. Apart from that, the opportunities have been limited and it is frustrating in a way.