Anderson, Foakes and Leach set to return to test cricket in Sri Lanka

With spring already in the air, the fantasy cricket focus will soon be shifting towards the county season and the all new 100-ball franchise that might just reinvent 2020 cricket. But before all that gets underway, there is one last piece of business from the 2019/20 winter season to conclude. 

England’s tour to Sri Lanka might ordinarily look like something of an afterthought. After all, it is just a two-test series tagged on to a winter that has seen England contest dramatic battles in New Zealand and South Africa. Furthermore, it is one that the online cricket betting sites firmly expect England to win. However, from a fantasy cricket perspective, there are no dead rubbers. The series counts towards the ICC test championship, and from an England viewpoint in particular, the performance of several key individuals will provide important signals for the summer ahead. Let’s find out who’s in and who’s out.

Jimmy marches on

England’s most prolific seamer of all time proved in South Africa that at 37 his skill and guile have not diminished. But from a fitness angle, the cracks are starting to show. Anderson has declared himself fit, and if he can withstand the two test series without breaking down again, home fans will surely have a chance to see him in action one last time this summer. Anderson’s place seems certain to be at the expense of Jofra Archer, who is recovering from a stress fracture to his right elbow and is unlikely to be back in England colours before June.

Recall on the cards for Foakes

Is being an Essex wicketkeeper some sort of test match hoodoo? Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, James Foster was acknowledged to be the best keeper in the country but was constantly overlooked. Ben Foakes seems to be following a similar path, and his move to Surrey didn’t break the curse. That could finally change in Sri Lanka. Foakes featured in the 2018 tour and was instrumental in England’s 3-0 win. His superior glovemanship could also mean Buttler will play as a specialist batsman and, at last, find some form in the middle.

But no room for Mo

Last summer’s unlikely hero, the bespectacled Jack Leach, seems set to return to the England fold having spent the past month battling sepsis on top of his other health problems. It’s good news for England, who will need as much variation in the spin department as possible. It will also be intriguing to see Leach and Bess bowling in tandem at the highest level. Leach’s return, however, means that there’s unlikely to be a way back in for another crowd favourite. Moeen Ali has announced his availability for an England return, but there is  feeling that the England selectors have moved on. Ali brings an excess of emotional baggage along with his talent, and if a third spinner is needed, Liam Dawson is likely to be the preferred choice.