Jonny Bairstow is a major doubt for the first Test against Sri Lanka with Jos Buttler pencilled in to take the gloves in Galle.
Bairstow’s ankle ligament injury has improved steadily since twisting his right ankle playing football during the one day series, but there are concerns over his ability to go straight into a Test.
The Test stumper is set to sit out the two warm up fixtures over the next four days leaving him with very little time to prepare properly for what could be a demanding five day match.
Wicket-keepers are vital cogs in the machine out here in Sri Lanka where they do most of their work standing up to the spinner which is physically the most demanding job they do.
Jonny Bairstow twists his ankle playing football and could miss the 4th ODI against Sri Lanka on Saturday
With the heat and the humidity taking its toll too, Bairstow’s chances of being ready to go a week tomorrow is hugely unlikely and England skipper Joe Root is keen not to take unnecessary risks when he has such a capable replacement in Buttler.
England have also called up Surrey stumper Ben Foakes who is arguably the best pure gloveman of the trio but who is yet to make his international debut.
Root said: “It’s day by day with Jonny at the minute,”
“He’s actually made good strides in the last week or so and he’s recovered a little bit quicker than we anticipated, but there’s still a long way to go.
“We’ll have to wait and see, I think so but we’re very fortunate to have a lot of resources in that department. Jonny would be a big loss but we’ve got some great players that can come in and rebalance the team.
“Jos to keep is probably the likely scenario but the reason we called Ben up is he’s a high quality wicketkeeper and gives us another way balance the side up. It’s a nice position to be in having that.
“We’ll see how things unfold in the warm-up games and how players go in those two games.”
Root will also assess the form of his top order batsmen with Keaton Jennings, Rory Burns and Joe Denly all fighting it out for a spot, while there is also a chance that Moeen Ali could be moved up the order.
In the bowling department Stuart Broad looks like he might not be the automatic pick he is when England play at home or in seamer friendly conditions with Warwickshire speedster Olly Stone looking to impress and collect a Test debut to go with his one day bow earlier on the tour.
“I’ve got a strong idea of what the core of the team looks like,” added Root. “But we’ve got some great options.
“One of the things we can take into account is the surface and the conditions – it might not necessarily be the team that played in the summer but that’s an exciting thing.
“We’re going to try and make sure we have a very balanced side that gives us the best chance of winning in these conditions.”
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