England's delayed test tour of Sri Lanka is going ahead, confirmed by the ECB this morning. England will depart on the second of January, with the tests starting on the 14th and 22nd of January, both at Galle, and both behind closed doors.
The ECB statement alludes to the tour of India that is set to follow. However, dates are yet to be confirmed, and it is possible that the series will take place in the UAE instead, due to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic in India.
England will likely name a squad in the coming weeks, which, due to coronavirus, will be larger than normal. Jorfa Archer is set to be rested, having spent months in bubbles across all formats. Jos Buttler, who has also spent lots of time in bubbles, could also be rested, although this is only a rumour.
Jonny Bairstow's recall to the squad is highly likely, given the Yorkshire bat pulled out of the Big Bash League that is taking place in the coming months. It is probable Bairstow will just provide back-up given he can do so as a keeper or batter, although, with details about Ollie Pope's injury recovery unknown, Bairstow, who made a century last time out in Sri Lanka, may make the XI, despite the dwindling of his test record in recent years.
England's biggest challenge will be their spin bowling. Last time in Sri Lanka, the Ali/Rashid/Leach attack proved very effective, as England won the series 3-0. However, England have not had a designated number one spinner for a while, with Bess and Leach both looking unconvincing after Moeen's absences.
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