England drop Bell for South Africa tour

"It was clearly a difficult decision but he has struggled for runs in recent series"

“It was clearly a difficult decision but he has struggled for runs in recent series”

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England batsman Ian Bell’s dismal run of form as of late has cost him dearly as he failed to make the cut for the upcoming Test series against South Africa.

Bell scored 158 runs, which included one half-century, at an average of 31.60 during the recent three-Test series against Pakistan, but the national selectors have made it clear that the 33-year-old’s Test career is not over.

Meanwhile, Nick Compton and Gary Ballance are set to make their Test comebacks after being included in the squad, along with the uncapped duo of Alex Hales and Mark Footitt.

There was no place in the side for spinner Adil Rashid as Moeen Ali is expected to be the only spinner needed. However, England have retained all-rounder Samit Patel in the 16-man squad.

“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,” national selectors 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. 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. On behalf of the selectors I would like to wish Alastair and Trevor all the very best for the tour.”

England will play a four-Test series against the Proteas, which will start on Boxing Day in Durban.

England Test Squad: Alastair Cook (Captain), 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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