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Livingstone earns maiden Test call-up for New Zealand

ENGLAND TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND 2018

Rob Johnston • Last updated on Thu, 11 Jan, 2018, 06:32 AM
Livingstone's call-up is his first time he has been involved with the Test squad although he did play two T20Is for England against South Africa last summer.

Livingstone’s call-up is his first time he has been involved with the Test squad although he did play two T20Is for England against South Africa last summer. © Getty

Under pressure batsmen Mark Stoneman and James Vince have kept their places in England’s squad for the upcoming two Test tour to New Zealand which was named on Wednesday (January 10). There is also a recall for Durham fast-bowler Mark Wood and a first call-up for Lancashire’s young batsman Liam Livingstone.

England National Cricket Selectors have avoided making wholesale changes after the disappointing 4-0 Ashes loss and have instead chosen 13 players who were on the tour to Australia – a reflection of not just the lack of proven alternatives available to them, but also the desire to keep faith with players who gave their all Down Under despite being beaten heavily.

Both Vince and Stoneman averaged under 30 with the bat in Australia against an admittedly high-class four-man bowling attack. There were glimpses of what both players can do during the Ashes series with two half-centuries apiece but neither has yet proven they have the consistency or ability to make big scores at Test level.

Vince can probably count himself the most fortunate and this tour looms as make or break for his international ambitions. He has scored just two half-centuries in 20 Test innings and has been out numerous times in similar fashion: caught behind the wicket playing expansively outside the off-stump. Stoneman has had less opportunities but he too needs a big score in New Zealand to cement his place as Alastair Cook’s opening partner.

Livingstone’s call-up is his first time he has been involved with the Test squad although he did play two T20Is for England against South Africa last summer without fully doing himself justice in scoring 0 and 16. The 24-year-old also played for England in the two-day match against a Cricket Australia XI in Perth during the Ashes tour.

His first-class record is impressive, averaging 48.75, and he scored two hundreds, including a double, and three half-centuries for Lancashire in the County Championship last season. Livingstone will captain the county in all formats this summer after replacing Steven Croft and described his call-up to the Test squad as “a huge honour”.

“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,” said England National Selector James Whitaker. “He is a very talented and tough cricketer who has the ideal qualities and character to be successful in the Test arena.

“During the recent Lions tour of Australia, he was a standout performer and showed a lot of maturity in his attitude and put in some strong performances. We are particularly impressed with the way he bats against spin and is equally adept against the seamers.”

Wood has been recalled to the squad for the first time since the second Test against South Africa at Trent Bridge last July. He was ruled out of the Ashes tour because of an ankle injury although he travelled with the squad for the last few weeks as he built back up to full fitness. He will add some much needed pace to England’s fast-bowling stocks – something that was sorely missed in Australia.

There is also a place in the squad for Ben Stokes although consistent with recent selections, his involvement remains subject to the ongoing investigation into the incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September. A decision as to whether Stokes will be charged is expected by the Criminal Prosecution Service soon.

The ECB has confirmed that if they receive notification that Stokes has either been charged or not charged, the ECB board will convene within 48 hours to decide on his availability for the tour. As things stand, however, he would not be available for the two Test matches in New Zealand.

Fast-bowler Craig Overton, impressive in his two Tests during the Ashes series, and reserve wicket-keeper Ben Foakes keep their places in the squad as does Mason Crane who made his Test debut at the SCG and performed far better than his figures of 1-193, the most expensive ever for an England debutant, suggested.

Batsman Gary Ballance and fast-bowlers Jake Ball and Tom Curran have been dropped after being part of the Ashes squad. Ball played in the first match at the Gabba and then was not seen again while Curran, a late call-up, was ineffectual in his two Tests at the MCG and SCG. Ballance did not feature in the Test series and only played in two of the practice games so can count himself unlucky to miss out.

The England squad will arrive in New Zealand on March 9 before two two-day warm-up matches against New Zealand A one of which is a day-night match. The first Test of the series will be also be a day-night affair in Auckland between March 22-26 and the second Test, a day match in Christchurch, will begin four days later.

Squad:

Joe Root (c), 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,

England’s tour of New Zealand 2018 itinerary:

March 9 – England Test players arrive in New Zealand

March 14-15, Two-day warm-up match (D/N) – New Zealand A v England, Seddon Park, Hamilton

March 16-17 – Two-day warm-up match, New Zealand A v England, Seddon Park, Hamilton

March 22-26 – First Test (D/N), New Zealand v England, Eden Park, Auckland

March 30 – April 3 – Second Test, New Zealand v England, Hagley Oval, Christchurch

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Updated: January 11, 2018 — 3:34 am
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