Alastair Cook’s retirement after 161 Tests left Ed Smith’s selection panel with a top-order conundrum which has been solved by a long-awaited summons for Surrey captain Burns and an international return for 32-year-old Denly.
Unlike Burns, the Kent veteran has played white-ball international cricket before but has not been seen at the highest level since a Twenty20 in Dubai in February 2010.
Keaton Jennings, Cook’s last opening partner, retains his place in a 16-man squad despite a poor summer and senior seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad will both travel, scotching suggestions one or both could be rested for the three-match series.
Warwickshire seamer Stone, having already earned his place in the 50-over squad, continues his rapid ascent by taking his place alongside the established duo.
England 16-man Test squad versus Sri Lanka: Joe Root (Yorkshire) captain, Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Jimmy Anderson (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire) wk, Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Sam Curran (Surrey), Joe Denly (Kent), Keaton Jennings (Lancashire), Jack Leach (Somerset), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire