Uncapped Surrey batsman Rory Burns is set to replace Alastair Cook at the top of England’s order after being named in a 16-man squad on Friday for the upcoming three-Test tour of Sri Lanka.
Left-handed opener Cook, England’s all-time leading run-scorer, retired from international duty after bringing down the curtain on his illustrious 12-year Test career with a farewell century against India at the Oval this month.
That left England with an opening batsman vacancy.
They have now turned to Burns, who captained Surrey to the County Championship title this season, with Kent top-order batsman Joe Denly and Warwickshire paceman Olly Stone the other two uncapped players in the squad.
Burns has been the leading run-scorer in the English top flight this season, scoring 1,319 Championship runs at an average of over 69.
“I think Rory Burns has impressed everyone with the consistency of his run scoring.
“Not just this year when he’s scored 1300 runs and led Surrey to the title –- which are both significant achievements – but over five years he has consistently scored over a thousand runs (a season),” said Ed Smith.
He was speaking to reporters at Trent Bridge on Friday after overseeing a selection meeting at Nottinghamshire’s headquarters.
Fellow opener Keaton Jennings was retained despite struggling against Pakistan and India this season – he scored 192 runs in six Tests at a meagre average of 19.20.
“Like every opening batsman this summer Keaton Jennings found opening the batting difficult. There’s no secret about that,” said Smith, a former England batsman, who took over as selection chief at the start of this season.
“But when it comes to selecting a touring party we felt Keaton was in our best squad to beat Sri Lanka.”
The 32-year-old Denly returned to the England set-up for the first time since 2010, when he earned nine one-day international caps and played five Twenty20s.
His leg-spin bowling could also prove useful in Sri Lanka, where pitches often provide plenty of turn.
“I played with Joe Denly when he was a very young man, you could see he was a fantastic natural athlete, a brilliant mover, talented batter, bowled leg-spin, everything came very easily to him,” said former Kent captain Smith.
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