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INDIVIDUAL GAME WINNERS MATTER – SO ENGLAND LEAVE OUT ALLROUNDER SAM CURRAN AGAIN – A CASE OF SCHIZOPHRENIC SELECTION

England v West Indies: Dom Bess in squad, Jack Leach misses out

 

Sam Curran: England all-rounder tests negative for coronavirus

England squad: Ben Stokes (capt), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Reserves: James Bracey, Sam Curran, Ben Foakes (wk), Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Ollie Robinson, Olly Stone.

Sam Curran made his Test debut in 2018

England all-rounder Sam Curran has returned a negative test for coronavirus.

The 22-year-old experienced a sickness bug on Wednesday night during England’s intra-squad warm-up match in Southampton.

He has been self-isolating in his hotel room and will play no further part in the match, which ends on Friday.

The Surrey man will be monitored by the team doctor with a view to returning to training at the weekend.

He will take a further coronavirus test on Sunday, along with the rest of the players and staff.

England’s three-Test series against West Indies, which begins on Wednesday in Southampton, is being held behind closed doors and in a bio-secure environment.

England have been living and training in Southampton as they prepare for the series.

Before Curran fell ill, players and staff had been subject to a total of 702 tests, all of which gave negative results.

England will trim their training group of 30 down to a Test squad of around 20 at the conclusion of the intra-squad match, with the announcement of the squad due on Saturday morning.

Off-spinner Bess is chosen ahead of Jack Leach and Moeen Ali, who is not among the list of nine reserves.

Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Joe Denly will be the top four in the absence of Joe Root, who misses out for the birth of his second child.

Ben Stokes will stand in as captain for Root in Southampton.

 
 

Stokes will become England’s 81st Test skipper and the first all-rounder to take charge since Andrew Flintoff.

One of his first decisions will be the make-up of the pace bowling attack, with the coronavirus lockdown that has prevented England from playing Test cricket since January resulting in a fully fit complement of fast bowlers.

Pace bowlers James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes will vie for what are likely to be three places in the team.

Sam Curran, who may also have been in contention before falling ill during a practice match this week, is among the reserves.

He is joined on the back-up list by fellow seamers Craig Overton, Ollie Robinson, Olly Stone and Saqib Mahmood, and left-arm spinner Leach.

Ben Foakes is the reserve wicketkeeper, while uncapped pair Dan Lawrence and James Bracey provide batting cover, meaning there is no place for Jonny Bairstow.

Bairstow, like Moeen, could not do enough in the practice match to force his way into the reckoning.

Worcestershire all-rounder Moeen had made himself available for Test cricket after taking a self-imposed break that began after being dropped during last summer’s Ashes series against Australia.

That left Leach as England’s first-choice spinner, but when he fell ill during the winter Somerset team-mate Bess impressed in the series win in South Africa.

The three-Test series with West Indies will be played behind closed doors and in a bio-secure environment in Southampton and Manchester.

Analysis

Cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew

This is a bigger squad than England take on winter tours, but such is the uncertainty over illness despite being locked in a bio-bubble that nine players will remain locked on site as reserves.

It is interesting to see who hasn’t made it – Moeen and Bairstow – while Bess is rewarded for his performances in South Africa.

Denly and Crawley will be in a play-off to survive when captain Root returns.

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