England call in Woakes as expectant father Buttler sits out Oval Test

By Sports Desk August 29, 2021

England will change a winning team for the fourth Test against India, with Jonny Bairstow taking over wicketkeeping duties from the absent Jos Buttler.

Buttler is skipping the Oval clash as he and his wife await the birth of their second child, meaning batsman Bairstow will take the gloves, and England have called in Sam Billings as cover.

It means at least one change will be made to the XI that beat India by an innings and 76 runs at Headingley to square the series, and it appears likely Ollie Pope will be the beneficiary, coming in to fortify the middle order in a match that gets under way on Thursday.

Chris Woakes is another option for head coach Chris Silverwood, who has recalled the Warwickshire all-rounder after he recovered from a heel injury.

Paceman Mark Wood also comes into contention, as he shows signs of recovering well from the shoulder injury that kept him out of the Headingley match, but Saqib Mahmood has been released to Lancashire duty.

Silverwood said: "It is very pleasing that we have Chris Woakes returning to the Test squad. He has bowled well over the past week with Warwickshire without any real concerns with his heel injury.

"He is an asset we have been missing both with the ball and his ability to score runs in the middle order. We are looking forward to seeing him prepare at The Oval as we go into back-to-back Tests.

"Mark Wood is making excellent recovery from his jarred right shoulder. He bowled in the middle on the last day at Headingley with our bowling coach Jon Lewis and was starting to get through his spells pain-free.

"For the first time in this series, it is pleasing to have several options with our bowling stocks as we approach the latter stages of the series.

"We would like to wish Jos and his family all the very best for the impending birth of their second child. Unfortunately, he will miss this Test, and we'll then see if he returns for the final Test at Emirates Old Trafford.

"Jonny Bairstow will take over wicketkeeping duties, which he is relishing. As we all know, he has the skills to seamlessly take over from Jos and the ability to score crucial runs in the middle order if called upon.

"Sam Billings, who was in the Test squad for the New Zealand series earlier this summer, returns as reserve keeper. He understands how we want to approach our cricket and is a popular member of the group. He will fit in well with the rest of the group."

The absence of Buttler means England lose their vice-captain, and his replacement in that role has not yet been specified.

 

England squad for the fourth Test against India at The Oval: Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Rory Burns, Sam Curran, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

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