Jonny Bairstow and James Anderson in England Test squad to face Ireland as Ben Foakes misses out
Jonny Bairstow and James Anderson have been named in England's Test squad to face Ireland on June 1, with Ben Foakes missing out.
Yorkshire wicketkeeper-batter Bairstow will return for the first time since breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle in September after the injury ruled him out of England's victorious T20 World Cup campaign in Australia in October and November and the winter Test series in Pakistan and New Zealand.
There was also worries over Anderson after the ECB released a statement on Sunday confirming the England and Lancashire seamer had sustained a mild strain to his right groin.
However, it seems the 40-year-old's injury is nothing serious and he will recover in time for the start of the summer.
With Bairstow making his return to the side as wicketkeeper and batting at No 7, there is no place for Surrey wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
There is also a longer-term injury blow for England as Jofra Archer has been ruled out for the rest of the summer after recent scans revealed he has sustained a recurrence of a stress fracture to his right elbow.
He will now spend time with the England and Sussex medical teams, who will work on his injury management.
Chris Woakes makes his return to the Test squad for the first time since March 2022, and if selected, this will be his first Test appearance on home soil since August 2020.
Mark Wood is also back in the squad after taking a break from the tour of New Zealand, with Ollie Pope taking over as England vice-captain with immediate effect.
Upon the announcement, ECB managing director for England Men's Cricket, Rob Key admitted it was hard to leave Foakes out of the side and is disappointed to see Archer go through an "upsetting period" with injuries.
"We are looking forward to the summer ahead and getting into the swing of things, starting with a good test against Ireland," said Key.
"It was a seriously tough decision to leave Ben Foakes out of the squad. He has been excellent for England in the last year, but Jonny Bairstow is one of the best players in the world whose performances last summer epitomised what we are about.
"It has been a frustrating and upsetting period for Jofra Archer. He was making good progress until a recurrence of the elbow injury, which kept him out for an extended period previously.
"We wish him the best of luck with his recovery. I'm sure we will see Jofra back to his best and winning games for England, whatever the format. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.
"I would like to wish the players every success, especially those returning after some time away."
Key: Foakes 'upset' at omission | 'Prime' Bairstow to bat at No 7
It is a tough call from England to leave Foakes, who impressed with the gloves and the bat in the drawn Test series against New Zealand, out of the side to face Ireland and Key revealed that the Surrey man needs a "few days" to come to terms with the decision.
"Brendon (McCullum) was the one who spoke to him (Foakes), he wanted to do that, and he was pretty upset about the fact he lost his place," said Key.
"He wants a few days to get his head around it and I think there will be a time we see Ben Foakes again.
"You never know what will happen in Test cricket, especially Ashes series, the sub-continent and places like that.
"I certainly don't think this is the end for Ben Foakes. He's been an excellent player for us and a big part of our success, but so too has Jonny. The way he played has epitomised everything we are about."
Foakes was a key part of the England side which won six of seven Tests last summer and continued his good form through the winter, taking six catches and making a half-century in the series against New Zealand after playing in one of the three Tests in Pakistan having missed the first through illness.
He has lost his place in the side largely due to the decision to have Bairstow keep wicket and bat at No 7, Key admitting they simply "couldn't find a way" to add Foakes into that equation.
"It's something we agonised over for quite some time because you have just got two very good cricketers," Key added.
"Ben Foakes has done absolutely everything that has been asked of him but then you have Jonny Bairstow, who was probably one of the best batsmen in the world last year.
"So it's then how do you try and fit them both in if you could and we couldn't find a way to do that.
"Jonny will probably come in at No 7 and then it looks like a very good team. As hard as it is on Ben, it's a very, very good side with Jonny in."
Ben Stokes (Durham) Captain, James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonathan Bairstow (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Harry Brook (Yorkshire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Ben Duckett (Nottinghamshire), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Matthew Potts (Durham), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham).
When is The Ashes?
Stokes will lead England for the first time in an Ashes series, with the hosts looking to regain the urn for the first time since 2015, and - after a four-day Test against Ireland - it will all begin at Edgbaston on June 16.
The series will then move on to Lord's (June 28-July 2) and Headingley (July 6-10), the scene of Stokes' 2019 heroics, before finishing at Emirates Old Trafford (July 19-23) and The Kia Oval (July 27-31).