x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Robson, Jordan, Ali earn first Test selections for England v Sri Lanka

England set up Sam Robson, Moeen Ali and Chris Jordan for their Test debuts with squad selection for next week's bout with Sri Lanka at Lord's.

Australia-born Sam Robson was in line to make his England debut after the Middlesex opener was named Thursday in the squad to play Sri Lanka in next week’s first Test at his Lord’s ‘home’ ground.

Robson was one of three uncapped players named by national selector James Whitaker in a 12-man group along with Barbados-born all-rounder Chris Jordan, who impressed during the recent 3-2 one-day series defeat by Sri Lanka, and Moeen Ali, who provides England with their lone spin option.

Meanwhile Yorkshire seamer Liam Plunkett was recalled having last played Test cricket seven years ago.

Matt Prior, who has been struggling with an Achilles injury, was passed fit to keep wicket.

And that meant there was no place for Jos Buttler, who made a blistering century for England against Sri Lanka in the fourth one-day international at Lord’s on Saturday or Jonny Bairstow, the man who replaced Prior during England’s 5-0 Ashes series loss in Australia.

England, with pace bowling all-rounder Ben Stokes deemed not to have had enough bowling following injury, also included Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes in their squad for the first of a two-Test series.

Robson is set to open alongside England captain Alastair Cook after Michael Carberry was dropped in what was Peter Moores’ first Test squad since he returned to the job of England coach.

“We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of both the County and England Performance Programme coaches in helping to develop the talents of Sam Robson, Liam Plunkett, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes,” said Whitaker in an ECB statement.

“All four have carried their exciting winter form into the domestic season to earn well deserved recognition.”

Six players who featured in England’s last Test, a crushing 281-run defeat by Australia at Sydney weren’t included -- Kevin Pietersen, whose international career was terminated by the ECB after the Ashes, Carberry, Stokes, Bairstow, former Ireland seamer Boyd Rankin and leg-spinner Scott Borthwick.

Whitaker, speaking of the 12 picked for the Sri Lanka opener, said: “We believe that this group of emerging talent will be very well complimented by the established core of experienced players that have been selected.”

Robson, whose Middlesex boss Angus Fraser is now a Test selector impressed on recent England second-string tours of Australia and Sri Lanka, making five hundreds in six matches during those trips.

An Australia Under-19 international who also played for Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs club, Robson headed to London soon after leaving school.

Last year, Cricket Australia brought in the so-called ‘Robson rule’ allowing dual passport-holders to play domestic matches in more than one country.

But Robson, whose Middlesex captain is Australia opener Chris Rodgers, insisted in April he felt no conflict of loyalties.

“Middlesex is where I’ve learnt to play first-class cricket,” he explained at the time.

“I’ve been here for a long time now. I love London, I’ve been here since I finished school and I haven’t given it too much thought.

“I committed simply by coming in the first place, signing up and giving up opportunities in Australia when I was very young. So from then on my focus has always been here.”

England squad

Alastair Cook (Essex, capt), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Liam Plunkett (Yorkshire), Matt Prior (Sussex, wkt), Sam Robson (Middlesex), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)

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