England’s squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa saw wholesale changes, as Ian Bell and Adil Rashid were dropped and Nick Compton and Gary Ballance were recalled, reports Sky Sports.
Bell’s poor run of form finally caught up with him, as the 33-year-old, who managed just a solitary fifty in the three-match Test series against Pakistan was dropped, which might spell the end of his illustrious Test career, even if the selectors were quick to suggest otherwise.
England’s limited-overs opener Alex Hales, who is yet to make his Test debut, is also in the squad, but the biggest surprise was the return of his Nottinghamshire teammate Compton, after a two-year hiatus. The 32-year-old is likely to take Bell’s place at No.3.
National selector James Whitaker said: “Ian Bell has been an outstanding player for many years and undoubtedly still has plenty to offer England in the future. It was clearly a difficult decision but he has struggled for runs in recent series and we felt that it was the right time for him to take a break and spend time working on his game out of the spotlight.
“The inclusion of Nick Compton and Gary Ballance alongside Alex Hales, Joe Root and James Taylor gives Trevor Bayliss and Alastair Cook plenty of options in the top order.
With Mark Wood and Steven Finn, both injured and unavailable for selection, the selectors went for Mark Footitt and Chris Jordan. Chris Woakes was rewarded for his impressive performances in the ongoing ODI series against Pakistan with a spot in the squad.
It was a mixed bag for Yorkshire’s players as Adil Rashid, who was in the squad for the Pakistan series, was left out while Ballance was recalled after being dropped during the Ashes series earlier in the year.
On Rashid’s exclusion Whitaker said: “Adil Rashid showed plenty of promise in the UAE but the conditions in South Africa make the likelihood of playing two spinners extremely remote.
“Although he would have been selected as a back-up spinner we feel there is an excellent opportunity for him to spend some time developing his white ball skills in the lead up to the ICC World T20 in March. It is likely that Adil will travel to Australia to play for a Big Bash franchise.
“Playing the No 1 ranked Test side in the world in their home conditions will be a really exciting challenge for this squad and one I'm sure these players will relish. On behalf of the selectors I would like to wish Alastair and Trevor all the very best for the tour.”
Squad: Alastair Cook (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Nick Compton, Mark Footitt, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Samit Patel, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, Chris Woakes.