James Vince has been given the chance to convert his fluent but unfulfilled Test form into the 20-over format, after being handed a recall for the T20 Tri-series against Australia and New Zealand that gets underway in February.
Vince was singled out for criticism by England’s assistant coach, Paul Farbrace, following an Ashes campaign in which he made 242 runs at 26.88, but consistently gave away his wicket after a promising start, making scores of between 15 and 25 in six of his nine innings.
However, the selectors have not yet lost faith in Vince’s ability to make the grade at international level, and have included him in a 16-man squad in place of Moeen Ali, who has been rested after a torrid time in the Ashes.
There is no respite, however, for England’s Test captain, Joe Root, who might have been considered worthy of a break as he hands the reins over to the regular one-day captain, Eoin Morgan. However, both he and another Ashes batsman, Dawid Malan, have been included in a tri-series that is the first of its kind and potentially the start of a new departure for international T20 cricket.
“We felt with that it was important for Dawid Malan and Joe Root, who have had an intense period of Test cricket over the past few months, to play in the series and continue to develop their T20 experience and skills,” said James Whitaker, the chairman of selectors.
On the bowling front, the notable inclusion is Mark Wood, the Durham quick bowler who was briefly considered for an Ashes call-up when England’s lack of out-and-out pace became apparent after two early defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide.
In the end, he was not considered sufficiently match-fit to play a Test match, but looked to be approaching his best rhythm during his time with the England Lions, as he continued his recovery from persistent ankle issues.
In what is now a familiar turn of events, Ben Stokes has once again been named in the squad, even 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.
“The IT20 Tri-Series will be very competitive against quality opposition in Australia and New Zealand,” said Whitaker. “Our limited-overs cricket has been progressing nicely across both formats so this tournament will be another indicator on where we are heading as a team over the long-term.
“Our aim is to become the best T20 side in the world and a strong performance in this series will give us the chance to progress up the team rankings.
The series gets underway on February 7 in Hobart, when England take on Australia, and will conclude on February 21 with the final at Eden Park in Auckland.