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Stokes, Livingstone make England squad for New Zealand Tests

Updated January 12, 2018

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LONDON: All-rounder Ben Stokes was included in England’s 16-man cricket squad for their Test tour of New Zealand on Thursday, while Lancashire batsman Liam Livingstone got his first call up.

Seamer Mark Wood returns after struggling with injury, and Ashes underperformers Moeen Ali, James Vince and Mark Stoneman were all retained.

But Gary Ballance, Jake Ball and Tom Curran, who were all part of the Australia Test squad, miss out.

England play two warm-up matches in Hamilton before their winter schedule finally comes to a close with Tests in Auckland on March 22 and Christchurch on March 30, after being thrashed 4-0 by Australia in the Ashes series that ended in Sydney this week.

In the chastening campaign, Australia record four comprehensive wins — including two innings victories and a 10-wicket triumph.

Stokes missed the entire series in Australia after being banned from international duties while police investigate his alleged role in a fight outside a nightclub in Bristol three months ago.

He kept his hand in by playing for Canterbury, his New Zealand birth province, for a month, but has since returned home to be with his wife and young family.

England selectors said he was in the frame ‘though his involvement remains subject to any relevant legal or disciplinary developments in relation to the incident in Bristol in September’.

“Should the ECB Board receive formal confirmation that Stokes has either been charged or that he will face no charges, they would convene within 48 hours to make a decision on his availability for the team at that stage,” they said.

Livingstone was rewarded for his form with Lancashire, with National Selector James Whitaker saying they had been watching him for some time.

“Liam has been a player that we have been impressed with for quite some time, having performed well in the county system with Lancashire and over the past couple of years with the England Lions,” he said.

“He is a very talented and tough cricketer who has the ideal qualities and character to be successful in the Test arena.”

The 24-year-old Livingstone took part in two Twenty20 Internationals against South Africa last year.

Selectors also recalled seamer Wood, who is back in the Test squad for the first time since last year.

“After a frustrating period with injuries, Mark is now back to full fitness and is looking forward to being part of our Test plans,” said Whitaker. “He will play a significant part in our forthcoming ODI tour of Australia and we will be paying close attention to his efforts over the next few weeks.”

England play five one-dayers against Australia, starting in Melbourne on Sunday.

From the Ashes Test squad, batsman Ballance, seamer Ball and all-rounder Curran all miss out.

Ballance did not feature in the series, Ball featured only in the first Test and Curran was a late addition to the squad before turning out in Melbourne and Sydney.

Squad: Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Ben Foakes, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2018