Bell loses place in test squad

OFF-FORM: England's Ian Bell has been dropped for the test series
OFF-FORM: England’s Ian Bell has been dropped for the test series. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Selectors announce players for SA

 ENGLAND dropped underperforming batsman Ian Bell from their test squad for the forthcoming tour of South Africa, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced yesterday. With 7 727 runs, Bell is the eighth-highest test scorer in England’s history, but the 33-year-old has struggled for form and has scored only one test century since July last year.

Batsmen Nick Compton and Gary Ballance both earn recalls, but Adil Rashid drops out, leaving Moeen Ali and Samit Patel as England’s frontline spinners.

“Ian Bell has been an outstanding player for many years and undoubtedly still has plenty to offer England in the future,” national selector James Whitaker said.

“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.”

England arrive in South Africa on December 11 and are due to play four test matches, five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 internationals between late December and late February.

Fast bowlers Mark Wood and Steven Finn both miss out through injury, while Nottinghamshire batsman Alex Hales and Surrey left-arm fast bowler Mark Footitt are the only uncapped players in the squad.

Compton and Hales will compete for the right to open the batting with captain Alastair Cook after Ali failed to impress in the recent three-test series with Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. England lost the series 2-0. Middlesex batsman Compton scored two centuries in nine tests before being dropped in 2013. Yorkshire’s Ballance, who last featured in this year’s Ashes, has four centuries in 15 tests.

“The inclusion of Nick Compton and Gary Ballance alongside Alex Hales, Joe Root and James Taylor gives [head coach] Trevor Bayliss and Alastair Cook plenty of options in the top order,” Whitaker said. “Adil Rashid showed plenty of promise in the UAE, but with the conditions in South Africa making the likelihood of playing two spinners extremely remote, he misses out.

“We feel this provides 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.”

Whitaker said it was likely that Adil would travel to Australia to play for one of the Big Bash franchises.

The first test in Durban begins on Boxing Day, the second in Cape Town starts on January 2 and the two remaining matches will take place in Johannesburg (January 14-18) and Centurion (January 22-26).

England test squad:

Alastair Cook (capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonathan 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

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