OPENING batsman Adam Lyth has today paid for poor form with the bat during the Ashes Test series after being dropped from the England squad to face Pakistan next month.
The 27-year-old Whitby-born left-hander struggled throughout the 3-2 series win against Australia, averaging 12.77 over the five tests, with a top score of 37 which came in the opening win in Cardiff.
Speculation as to who would open alongside captain Alastair Cook in the United Arab Emirates - where the series against Pakistan will be staged – began before The Ashes had even finished, with Moeen Ali and Alex Hales being touted as possible replacements.
And it looks as though Hales - despite performing poorly in this summer’s one-day series against Auatralia – has been given a chance to replace Lyth at the top of the order, with Ali an alternative candidate.
If selected, Hales will win his first Test cap in the UAE, as will Zafar Ansari who has also made the 16-man squad.
Surrey all-rounder Ansari offers a third spin-bowling option alongside Ali and Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid.
Hales’s Nottinghamshire team-mate James Taylor has been rewarded with a return to the Test stage, having played his only two matches against South Africa in 2012, one of them at Headingley.
His inclusion is bad news for Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance, who was dropped two games into The Ashes series but had been tipped for a swift comeback after showing decent form when back with his county.
While it was bad news for Lyth and Ballance, their county team-mates – Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett all – all made the squad, as expected.
One surprise is that Plunkett failed to make the England ODI squad for the tour, despite impressing during the recent series against Australia. Ben Stokes is also left out of the ODI and T20 squads as England opt to give him a rest.
“The challenge we face against Pakistan will be very different and the composition of our squads reflects the conditions we expect to encounter in the UAE,” said national selector James Whitaker.
“Zafar Ansari’s potential excites us and he will provide strong competition for Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali in the Test squad after enjoying an excellent domestic season with both bat and ball for Surrey.
“Alex Hales has scored heavily for Nottinghamshire in first-class cricket this season, has shown he can play match-winning innings for England in white-ball cricket and fully deserves an opportunity to compete for a place at the top of the order in our Test side.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board also confirmed the appointment of former one-day captain Paul Collingwood and recently retired Sri Lanka great Mahela Jayawardene in consultancy roles.
Jayawardene will work with the Test batsmen until the end of the first Test against Pakistan, while Collingwood returns to the set-up to work with the limited-overs group in the UAE and will also work at next year’s World Twenty20.
England Test squad: Alastair Cook (Essex, captain), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Zafar Ansari (Surrey), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Liam Plunkett (Yorkshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), James Taylor (Nottinghamshire), Mark Wood (Durham).
ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (Middlesex, captain), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Sam Billings (Kent), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), James Taylor (Nottinghamshire), Reece Topley (Essex), David Willey (Northamptonshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham).
T20 Squad: Eoin Morgan (Middlesex, captain), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Sam Billings (Kent), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Stephen Parry (Lancashire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Joe Root, (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Reece Topley (Essex), James Vince (Hampshire), David Willey (Northamptonshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)
Pakistan v England in UAE 2015 – itinerary:
30 September: England team arrive
5-6 October: Two-day game vs Pakistan A Sharjah CC
8-9 October: Two-day game vs Pakistan A Sharjah CC
13-17 October: 1st Test ZCS, Abu Dhabi
22-26 October: 2nd Test Dubai Cricket Stadium
1-5 November: 3rd Test Sharjah CC
8 November: One-day practice match ZCS, Abu Dhabi
11 November: 1st ODI D/N ZCS, Abu Dhabi
13 November: 2nd ODI D/N ZCS, Abu Dhabi
17 November: 3rd ODI D/N Sharjah CC
20 November: 4th ODI D/N Dubai Cricket Stadium
23 November: T20 v UAE XI (f) ZCS, Abu Dhabi
26 November: 1st IT20 (f) Dubai Cricket Stadium
27 November: 2nd IT20 (f) Dubai Cricket Stadium
30 November: 3rd IT20 (f) Sharjah CC
1 December: England depart UAE