England vs South Africa: Gary Ballance earns recall for first Test 'to add maturity and experience' in hosts squad

Reuters, Jul, 02 2017

England have recalled batsman Gary Ballance for the first Test against South Africa at Lord's on Thursday with the hosts also naming Middlesex pace bowler Toby Roland-Jones as the only uncapped player in the squad.

England's Gary Ballance celebrates after he scored a century against West Indies. AP

File image of England's Gary Ballance. AP

Ballance was dropped following a dismal showing during England's two-test series against Bangladesh in October but got back on the selectors' radar after averaging 101 for Yorkshire in the County Championship this season.

"Gary Ballance could play his first test since October," national selector James Whitaker said in a statement when announcing the side on Sunday.

"He has been in fantastic touch with the bat in the Championship averaging over 100. He deserves to be included and we feel that he will add maturity and experience to our middle-order."

Ballance would bat at number three in Joe Root's first series as captain, with Root, who took over as skipper from Alastair Cook, dropping to his favoured number four position, British media reported.

"There is great excitement around the first test of the summer and with the start of a new era under the captaincy of Joe Root this is an exciting time for English cricket," Whitaker added.

Durham seamer Mark Wood is also back in the side for the first time since 2015, when injury disrupted his initial call-up.

Injuries to Jake Ball and Chris Woakes could see Roland-Jones make his international Test debut at his home ground, while spinner Liam Dawson has been retained after an impressive debut against India in Chennai, leaving no room for Adil Rashid.

"Toby Roland-Jones is a player we have been monitoring for quite some time and deserves his chance... He came close last year when he was named in the Test squad against Pakistan in July," Whitaker added.

"Toby has been in good form this campaign and his ability to seam the ball along with the fact that he can score useful runs down the order gives us a number of options."

Ballance's recall means Lancashire's Haseeb Hameed also misses out, despite shining during the first three Tests in India last year.

Since returning from the hand injury that ruled him out of the fourth Test of that series, Hameed has struggled for runs in the County Championship.

England and South Africa are playing a four-match series with the final Test beginning at Old Trafford on Aug. 4.

Squad: Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wicket-keeper), Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Liam Dawson, Keaton Jennings, Toby Roland-Jones, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood.

Published Date: Jul 02, 2017 | Updated Date: Jul 02, 2017



Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4493 125
2 South Africa 3395 110
3 England 4097 105
4 Australia 3087 100
5 New Zealand 3114 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 South Africa 5957 119
2 Australia 5505 117
3 India 4579 114
4 England 5645 113
5 New Zealand 5123 111
Rank Team Points Rating
1 New Zealand 1625 125
2 England 1962 123
3 Pakistan 2417 121
4 West Indies 2222 117
5 India 2183 115