England ‘rest’ its IPL stars for two home Tests vs New Zealand

England on Tuesday named uncapped seamer Ollie Robinson and wicketkeeper-batsman James Bracey in a 15-member squad and rested its Indian Premier League (IPL) players for the two-match home Test series against New Zealand next month.

While Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer remain sidelined with injuries, Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes, all of whom played in the IPL, have been rested, said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in a statement.

The first Test will be played from June 2 to 6 at Lord’s, London, while the second Test is scheduled to be played from June 10 to 14 at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Gloucestershire wicketkeeper-batsman James Bracey has so far scored 478 runs at an average of 53 in the ongoing County Championship while Sussex seamer Robinson has taken 29 wickets at an average of 14.

“Bracey and Robinson deserve their call ups to the Test squad. They have been consistent performers in the County Championship this season and over the past 18 months, have excelled for the Lions on the field and in the various camps they have been involved in,” said head coach Chris Silverwood.

The ECB said that the IPL stars would rest for some time before joining their respective counties in due course.

“We need them to recharge mentally. We will then take a view when they return to cricket. It will mean that they will get some competitive matches with their respective counties either in the County Championship or the Vitality Blast next month. We will work closely with each individual on when they are likely to play again,” said Silverwood.

Stokes suffered a fractured finger while playing in the IPL, and that led to him being ruled out for the rest of the tournament, which was suspended midway due to a surge in Covid-19 cases in India. Archer did not play in the IPL due to an elbow injury.

“Stokes is progressing well from his fractured left index finger and is set to return to action next month for Durham in the Vitality Blast competition,” said the ECB.

“Archer is to meet with a medical consultant later this week to determine the seriousness of his right elbow soreness,” it said.

Squad for New Zealand Tests: Joe Root (captain), James Anderson, James Bracey, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes (wicketkeeper), Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Dom Sibley, Olly Stone, Mark Wood