Joe Root has thrown his support behind Ben Stokes’ move up England’s batting order for the second Test against Sri Lanka in Kandy.
The all-rounder will vacate his usual position at no.5 to replace Moeen Ali at no.3 in another change made by England selectors to England’s batting line-up this year.
Moeen Ali scored just three runs in the victorious first Test for England in Galle, bringing Stokes and Jonny Bairstow into the conversation as possible long-term candidates for the Test team’s problematic position.
And Root explained why he and selectors backed both Stokes’ technical ability and his mental endeavour and the cost of Jonny Bairstow’s place in the squad.
“Having had a good look at the surface today, we feel the side that won the first Test will give us the best opportunity for us to get something out of this Test,” Root explained.
“Ben’s game is in good shape and he is more than capable of batting at three.
“We are in a fortunate position that many in the side could bat in that position. Ben’s technique is sound and he will be able to adapt to this role.
“He is one of the fittest guys in the side, so the intensity of batting in the top order and bowling as one of our three seamers, will not faze him.
“Ben is relishing the added responsibility of doing a job at three.”
Bairstow will be England’s 12th man for the Test that could see England claim an unassailable 2-0 lead over Sri Lanka, as Ben Foakes keeps ahold of keeping wicket duties.
“Jonny was available for selection. Trevor Bayliss and I have spoken to him about finding the right balance for this Test with the conditions we are expecting.
“The surface is dry and it will spin. The balance of the team is ideal for these conditions.
“We can also adapt, if the situation dictates, as we showed in Galle.”
“He (Bairstow) understands the situation and is aware that we have to pick the side that are best suited to conditions we can expect in Kandy.
“It is unfortunate that he missed out through injury in the first Test.
“‘He is an integral part of our plans and is a key member of our core squad and his experience around the group is important.”
The reshuffle to the batting order leaves it reading: Burns, Jennings, Stokes, Root, Buttler, Moeen Ali.
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