THE ASHES 2017 - Vince, Ballance recalled for Ashes; Wood misses out


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James Vince and Gary Ballance have been re-called to England's squad for the Ashes series this winter while there is no place for fast bowler Mark Wood who has not recovered sufficiently from an ankle injury. Ben Stokes, who was arrested in the early hours of Monday morning following an altercation in Bristol, has also been selected.

Squad: Joe Root (c), Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Dawid Malan, Gary Ballance, James Vince, Moeen Ali, Mason Crane, Ben Foakes, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jake Ball, Craig Overton.

Tom Westley, who batted at three for England in their last five Tests, has not been included after fading returns against Windies while Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan, two others who were sweating on their places ahead of the announcement, have been selected in the 16-man party for their first senior tours of Australia.

Malan, Ballance and Vince will be competing for two places in the final eleven for the first Test in Brisbane beginning November 23. All three will be given opportunities to stake their claims in England's three warm-up matches ahead of the series, although it is expected that Vince will replace Westley at number three.

Neither Vince nor Ballance has convinced at Test level so their selection represents something of a gamble by England's selectors. Vince failed to make a half-century in seven Tests last summer while Ballance averages under 30 in his past 15 matches. Their selections owe as much to a scarcity of other options as to the convincing nature of their form.

Wood has been struggling with a heel injury in recent weeks and although he is currently playing for Durham in the County Championship, the selectors have decided they cannot risk taking a half-fit bowler on such a rigorous tour. Wood's absence is a huge blow for England given his extra pace and ability to use reverse swing, attributes which would have suited Australian conditions.

As well as the absence of Wood, Toby Roland-Jones, one of the bright spots of England's Test summer, has also been ruled out of the squad with a stress fracture of the lower back. Uncapped Somerset fast bowler Craig Overton has been included in the tour party alongside Nottinghamshire's fast bowler Jake Ball. Despite taking 8-79 last week, Middlesex's Steven Finn has missed out.

There are two other uncapped players in the squad alongside Overton: leg-spinner Mason Crane and reserve wicketkepper Ben Foakes but neither are likely to play in the series unless there is an injury to either Moeen Ali or Jonny Bairstow.

Should injury or loss of form hit, the squad may be augmented by members of the England Lions squad which will also be in Australia before Christmas. That squad will be announced on coming Monday (October 2).