Ollie Pope to leave Sri Lanka and join up with England Lions

Ollie Pope plays a drive Getty Images

England will release batsman Ollie Pope from their Test party in Sri Lanka, in order for him to get game time with the Lions, who are embarking on a tour of the UAE to play Pakistan A in all formats.

Pope made his Test debut in the summer against India, scoring 54 runs in three innings, but the performance of Ben Foakes on debut in Galle has limited his chances of making further appearances in Sri Lanka. Pope was initially included as the spare middle-order batsman in the squad, but Foakes was called up after an injury to Jonny Bairstow and subsequently scored a century to help set up England's victory in the first Test.

With Bairstow working back to fitness and pushing for a return to the team, and Joe Denly also in the squad, England have a surplus of batting options. The management has therefore decided that Pope would be better served playing than ferrying drinks. He will leave for the UAE on Wednesday, the first day of the second Test in Pallakele.

"It is important that Ollie is playing and the selection panel felt that to aid his development the best course of action is for to him to go and play for the Lions in a competitive series against Pakistan A," Trevor Bayliss, England's head coach, said.

"Ollie needs some game time before the West Indies Test tour early next year and will get more out of playing competitively for the Lions rather than spending the next three weeks in Sri Lanka on the sidelines. He will get the opportunity of playing up to eight matches across all formats in the UAE."

England Lions play one four-day match in Abu Dhabi, starting on November 18, followed by five unofficial ODIs and two T20s.