Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer will be back to spearhead England’s Test series against India next month, but Jos Buttler is being rested for three of the four matches as part of an attempt to “modernise” the national side’s approach to touring.
Stokes and Archer were handed breaks for the trip to Sri Lanka but return to take on India in their own backyard in February and March.
Opener Rory Burns will also be back after spending the last few weeks on paternity leave, but rather than building back up to full strength for the eagerly-awaited contest England have left Sam Curran, Mark Wood and Jonny Bairstow out of the first two matches.
Even more interesting, perhaps, is the decision to select Buttler for the series opener in Chennai only, before standing him down and opening the door for deputy wicketkeeper Ben Foakes to get his chance.
Additional changes will be made between the double-headers in Chennai and Ahmedabad, with Curran, Wood and Bairstow, who had just made a successful return to red-ball cricket after a year out, all rejoining the group.
It is all part of the ECB’s response to the changing landscape created by Covid-19, with bio-secure bubbles, quarantine considerations and packed fixture lists all playing their part in a less rigid approach.
India vs England tour fixtures
- 1st Test – February 5-9 (Chennai), 09:30 local – 04:00 GMT
- 2nd Test – February 13-17 (Chennai), 09:30 local – 04:00 GMT
- 3rd Test – February 24-28 (Ahmedabad), 14:30 local – 09:00 GMT
- 4th Test – March 4-8 (Ahmedabad), 09:30 local – 04:00 GMT
- 1st T20 – March 12 (Ahmedabad), 19:00 local – 13:30 GMT
- 2nd T20 – March 14 (Ahmedabad), 19:00 local – 13:30 GMT
- 3rd T20 – March 16 (Ahmedabad), 19:00 local – 13:30 GMT
- 4th T20 – March 18 (Ahmedabad), 19:00 local – 13:30 GMT
- 5th T20 – March 20 (Ahmedabad), 19:00 local – 13:30 GMT
- 1st ODI, March 23 (Pune), 13:30 local – 08:00 GMT
- 2nd ODI, March 26 (Pune), 13:30 local – 08:00 GMT
- 3rd ODI, March 28 (Pune), 13:30 local – 09:00 BST
How to watch India vs England live in the UK
It is still unclear who will broadcast the series in the UK. As Telegraph Sport revealed in December, the tour is set to be shown on Disney’s Hotstar streaming service, although the final arrangements have yet to be confirmed.
Star Sports, part of the Disney empire, has exclusive rights to broadcast cricket within India and sells on its access to broadcasters in other territories, such as Sky or BT.
But the explosion in popularity of streaming services, such as its Disney+ channel, has led Disney to seriously consider retaining the rights, worth around £20 million, and screening matches in this country via one of its own digital platforms rather than selling them on to a traditional broadcaster.
England squad for first two Tests
Joe Root (capt), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.
Reserves: James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Matthew Parkinson), Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi.
India squad for first two Tests
Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, R Ashwin, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur.