YORKSHIRE captain Gary Ballance has found himself out in the Test wildnerness once again after being dropped for the forthcoming tour of New Zealand.
Selectors have called up uncapped Lancashire batsman Liam Livingstone and fast bowler Mark Wood for the two-match Test series.
As expected there has been no mass bloodletting after the comprehensive Ashes defeat, with Ballance – who didn’t feature at all in the recent Ashes Test series – Jake Ball and Tom Curran the only absentees from the group beaten 4-0 in Australia.
Ball featured only in the first Test and Curran was a late addition to the squad before turning out in Melbourne and Sydney.
Trevor Bayliss made a strong case for the retention of opener Mark Stoneman and No 3 James Vince when reviewing the campaign earlier this week. But the pair underperformed overall Down Under and there is little doubt that this show of faith requires immediate payback if they are to linger in the side.
England play two warm-up matches in Hamilton before their gruelling winter schedule finally comes to a close with Tests in Auckland on March 22 and Christchurch on March 30.
Livingstone, 24, is the spare batsman on tour and will likely push harder for a place than Ballance, who resembled little more than a place holder during the Ashes.
The Cumbrian batsman edged out England Lions team-mates Dan Lawrence and Joe Clarke in a selection process delayed for 24 hours by captain Joe Root’s viral illness.
Wood, meanwhile, would have been present for the Test leg in Australia had he been considered fit and robust enough for the challenge. Persistent injuries have kept the Durham quick, who is capable of the kind of express pace Root’s side so conspicuously lacked in the past few months, to just 10 Test caps since debuting in May 2015.
England squad: J Root (Yorkshire, captain), M Ali (Worcestershire), J Anderson (Lancashire), J Bairstow (Yorkshire), S Broad (Nottinghamshire), A Cook (Essex), M Crane (Hampshire), B Foakes (Surrey), L Livingstone (Lancashire), D Malan (Middlesex), C Overton (Somerset), B Stokes (Durham), M Stoneman (Surrey), J Vince (Hampshire), C Woakes (Warwickshire), M Wood (Durham).