London: Pace bowler Ollie Robinson, who was recently caught in a racism controversy, has been picked in England’s 17-member squad for the first two Tests against India next month. Fast bowler Jofra Archer, however, was left out as he is yet to fully recover from elbow injury. The squad also includes opener Haseeb Hameed who last played a Test in 2016.
The 27-year-old Robinson had made his Test debut in the series against New Zealand in June. But when his racist tweets from 2012 and 2013 went viral, Robinson was withdrawn from the New Zealand series and given an eight-match ban by an independent panel, five of which were suspended while the other three have now been served.
Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Sam Curran have also returned to the Test team. While Bairstow, Buttler and Curran were rested from the New Zealand series after taking part in this year’s IPL and undergoing a lengthy period of quarantine, Stokes has recovered from a finger injury that saw him withdraw from the Indian Premier League this year.
The all-rounder had recently captained England’s ODI side bereft of first-choice players due to a Covid-19 outbreak, to a 3-0 win over Pakistan.
Notable omissions include all-rounder Chris Woakes, out with a bruised heel and Jofra Archer who is recovering from an elbow surgery.
Hameed last played for England in three Tests during the tour to India in 2016. A finger injury cut short his trip in India which was followed by drying returns with the bat.
After being released by Lancashire at the end of the 2019 season, Hameed moved to Nottinghamshire. Since then, the 24-year-old has found
form. In the current season of County Championship, Hameed has scored 642 runs from nine matches at an average of 45.85 with two centuries and four half-centuries.
Dom Bess and Jack Leach are England’s spin options. After a tough tour to India in February, Bess bounced back with a career-best figures of 7 for 43 for Yorkshire against Northamptonshire earlier in July.
The series between India and England will start at Trent Bridge on August 4 followed by Tests at Lord’s, Headingley, Oval and Old Trafford.
Squad: Joe Root (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper), Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood.