National selector Ed Smith praised Dan Lawrence’s invention and “presence at the crease” after the Essex batsman was named in the England Test squad for the tour of Sri Lanka.
The 23-year-old was part of England’s 55-man training squad over the summer but with Ben Stokes rested, Ollie Pope still recovering from a shoulder injury and Rory Burns missing the two-match series to be present at the birth of his first child, Lawrence has earned his first call-up to the full squad.
The absence of three of England’s top six means that Lawrence has every chance of making his international debut and following his success with the Lions in Australia last winter, Smith believes he deserves his chance.
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“Great opportunity for Dan Lawrence, really talented cricketer, confident player,” he told reporters. “He’s in really good form and he’s absolutely delighted to be in the full squad and having an opportunity to move forward with his career.
“Great chance for him and also Jonny Bairstow, who comes back into the Test squad, as well.
“Dan Lawrence is an unusual player but he’s got that real quality about him. He has his own style, he has real confidence and presence at the crease, he’s inventive, he’s versatile because he’s also a good short-form player.
“He really impressed on the England Lions tour just under a year ago, which James Taylor was at all the way through and I was there for the last game at the MCG. It was great to see Dan do so well on that tour.”
Smith also explained that England are taking a slightly different approach in their planning for the Tests in Sri Lanka and the all-formats series in India that follows in February and March with players informed well in advance about when and where they might be given a break.
“All the multi-format players, so for example, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler, are going to have a rest at some point during the Sri Lanka and India tours,” he said. “It made sense for Ben to take his rest for the Sri Lanka tour and get ready for India.
“I spoke to 20 players yesterday about selection for Sri Lanka and we also mapped out an individualised programme for every player. So we told them with total clarity about the Sri Lanka situation and also we’re able to just guide them a little bit about what’s coming up for them.
“Of course, we know in cricket that things can change but we identified gaps where some people will have a bit of time off and some rest.
“We’re trying to work with the player and give them a bit more visibility.”
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Smith added that England are likely to take an unorthodox approach and alter their Test squad midway through the four-Test series in India, suggesting that Jos Buttler could sit out the third and fourth Tests with Ben Foakes given an opportunity behind the stumps.
“Another innovation that we’re bringing in is that we will be making changes to the India squad, mid-tour,” he said. “We won’t be doing that at the last minute, the way to think about this winter is that it is three blocks of two Tests: Sri Lanka, India one and two, India three and four.
“There may be changes beyond that too but we think that’s the only way to make sure we balance making sure we have the right number of resources in each position and also getting rest into those multi-format players like Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and also Sam Curran, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes.
“I’d also mention that I think there will be opportunities for Ben Foakes at some point this winter. We mentioned earlier that Jos Buttler is certain to have a rest at some point, that then will open up opportunities elsewhere.
England squad for Sri Lanka Test series
Joe Root (Yorkshire) (captain), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonnny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Dom Bess (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)
“We cannot expect to play the same XI every time and for those guys to get exhausted and jaded. There must be room for sensible rotation, both in and out of the squad.
“We talked earlier about how Archer, Stokes and Buttler, those types of guys, will have blocks away from the tour this winter. Also, within the squad because with essentially six back-to-back Tests it would be unlikely, not impossible but unlikely, that people can go straight through with an unchanged situation.”
Watch England’s two-Test series in Sri Lanka live on Sky Sports in January.
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