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Breaking Down England's Squad for 1st Test Against Sri Lanka at Lord's

Chris TealeFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2014

Breaking Down England's Squad for 1st Test Against Sri Lanka at Lord's

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    Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

    After their five one-day international matches, England’s Test series against Sri Lanka begins on June 12 at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.

    It represents a continuation of England’s brave new era without Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen, and ramps it up a gear as players shift to the five-day games.

    Alastair Cook’s side have announced their squad for the opening match, which they hope will take them to an early victory. Read on for a breakdown of England’s chosen players. 

1. Alastair Cook (Captain)

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    Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

    Left-hand bat
    Age 29

    England will be led once again by Alastair Cook, who starts his second summer in charge.

    With the bat, Cook looked in patchy form against Sri Lanka in the ODI series, but he played well for his county side, Essex, earlier in the summer.

    One worrying statistic for the 29-year-old is that he is without a Test century since he made 130 against New Zealand at Headingley in 2013.

    That was over a year ago.

    Since then, he has passed 50 on just six occasions in 20 innings. He will be desperate to get back on track against the red ball. 

2. Moeen Ali

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Left-hand bat; right-arm off-spin
    Age 26

    The first of England’s uncapped players in their squad is Worcestershire’s Moeen Ali, who has promised much already in the ODI arena.

    Having made his debut in both limited-overs forms earlier this year, Ali has looked in good form with bat and ball, with his 162 against Surrey perhaps coming at just the right time.

    He has shown himself to be a more than capable bowler as well as a batsman who is worthy of a spot in the top six.

    If he plays, Ali will expect to shoulder some spin responsibility. 

3. James Anderson

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Left-hand bat; right-arm fast-medium
    Age 31

    Still England’s leading seamer, it was no surprise that James Anderson was included in this squad.

    He enjoyed a relatively good ODI series against Sri Lanka and has been taking regular wickets in the County Championship for Lancashire to prove he still has what it takes.

    It is hard to believe that Anderson is still just 31, as he has been around for so many years in international cricket, and that experience brings with it a superb knowledge of swinging conditions. 

4. Gary Ballance

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Left-hand bat
    Age 24

    Having made his Test debut against Australia in Sydney earlier this year, Gary Ballance returns for the first game of the summer in the game’s longest form.

    Batting at No. 3, Ballance had a decent ODI series and may well occupy that spot again in the Test team, depending on how the team is balanced and who else is chosen.

    In addition, he looked in superb touch for Yorkshire in the County Championship. After a superb 2013 season, he will be looking for more of the same. 

5. Ian Bell

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat
    Age 32

    Assuming the role of senior batsman, Ian Bell’s position in this team is somewhat in flux this year.

    Having previously been at No. 5 behind Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen, Bell is now looking at an international future that will likely not involve either of them.

    Whether he moves up to No. 3 or No. 4 remains to be seen, but what remains the same is England’s reliance on him to score runs. 

6. Stuart Broad

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Left-hand bat; right-arm fast-medium
    Age 27

    Returning to England’s side after missing the ODI series with a knee problem is Stuart Broad, who has played just two County Championship matches for Nottinghamshire this year.

    It remains to be seen how his body stands up to the rigours of five-day cricket once again, but all the signs look positive from his two outings with his county side.

    Likely to be handed the new ball alongside Anderson, Broad is coming off a successful Ashes tour for him personally. He also led England in the recent World Twenty20.

    Having shaken off his previous role as England’s “enforcer” with the ball, he will be hoping to return to his best in this game. 

7. Chris Jordan

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat; right-arm fast-medium
    Age 25

    Having impressed so consistently in both ODI and Twenty20 cricket, it is no surprise that Chris Jordan has been drafted in for a potential Test debut.

    It has been a meteoric rise for the all-action cricketer, who has bowled match-winning spells with the ball, hit aggressive runs with the bat and taken some excellent catches already.

    It is hard to believe that he was without a county after the 2012 season, when he was released by Surrey, but he has seen a tremendous revival with Sussex and could be in line for a first Test cap.

    With so much to offer in so many facets of the game, Jordan is definitely one for the future. 

8. Liam Plunkett

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat; right-arm fast
    Age 29

    One of the more surprising cricketing comebacks of recent years is Liam Plunkett, whose move to Yorkshire has been the catalyst for a return to England colours.

    Now bowling with increased pace and extra vigour, Plunkett returns to the Test fold after seven years away.

    Perhaps selected for international cricket a little too early at the age of 20, Plunkett is an example of a player who has worked hard at his game away from the spotlight. 

9. Matt Prior

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    Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat; wicketkeeper
    Age 32

    Returning to the England squad after some battles with injury is Matt Prior, who will keep wicket despite having only made fleeting appearances for Sussex this year.

    He suffered the ignominy of being replaced for the final two Ashes Tests by Jonny Bairstow, having been Cook’s vice-captain, but is back and will be raring to go.

    A tidy gloveman who bats aggressively and unselfishly, Prior will be determined to show that he is still England’s No. 1 ‘keeper.

10. Sam Robson

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    Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat
    Age 24

    England’s final debutant is Middlesex’s Sam Robson, who has started 2014 in tremendous form.

    The 24-year-old is highly rated across the county scene, and having come through the ranks with the second-string England Lions, he looks set to open in this match.

    Having already made plenty of runs for the Lions against Sri Lanka A, Robson likely will also have a psychological advantage going into this game.

    The right-hander has earned his chance by sheer weight of runs and will be desperate to stamp his authority on this series. 

11. Joe Root

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    Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat; right-arm off-spin
    Age 23

    The enormously talented Joe Root has a place in this squad and will likely play a dual role with bat and ball in this game.

    England still need to find a definitive role for him within the team, but he remains a tremendous batsman capable of scoring runs against any attack.

    His efforts in Australia, where he stood up well to a battering from Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, show he has plenty of character and ability to succeed. 

12. Chris Woakes

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat; right-arm fast-medium
    Age 25

    The final member of this squad is Warwickshire all-rounder Chris Woakes, who made his Test debut at The Oval last year but did not feature in the ODI series.

    He has shown himself to be a very capable batsman and bowler, with his county side even elevating him in their batting order to No. 6.

    Whether he can develop into an international all-rounder remains to be seen, but it is clear that Woakes is highly regarded by England and has something to offer.

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