(Photo: Getty Images)
By Adam Ellis
England have named their 16-man squad to travel to Australia for the 2017-18 Ashes tour this winter with Gary Ballance and James Vince both recalled.
Joe Root’s side will be looking to retain the urn when their tour opens with the first warm-up game against a Western Australia XI on 4 November, ahead of the first Test at the Gabba 19 days later.
Gary Ballance is recalled after being dropped by selectors during the recent series against South Africa as his form with the bat saw England’s vulnerability at the top of their batting order grow deeper.
The Yorkshire captain averages 77.75 in County cricket this season but has failed to convert a big score for his country – his last century for England coming 28 innings ago against the West Indies in 2015.
Ballance’s replacement for the South Africa series Tom Westley misses out as Bayliss and the selectors opt for Hampshire’s James Vince to provide competition at No 3.
Mixing the past with the present, England have also selected a trio of uncapped players for the Ashes as Somerset’s Craig Overton, Hampshire’s Mason Crane and Surrey’s Ben Foakes all get a chance to earn their first Test caps.
Overton recently signed a new long-term deal to stay in Taunton and has been on the ECB’s radar as a talent to develop since his breakthrough year in 2013 when he took 4-38 against Durham as a teenager.
Mason Crane has been selected at the back-up spin option to Moeen Ali, while Foakes will deputise under Jonny Bairstow after averaging 45.33 with the bat and taking 28 catches behind the stumps.
Mark Wood is the one glaring omission from the bowling ranks as he and Toby Roland-Jones (stress fracture to his back) miss out, that allows white-ball specialist Jake Ball to show what he can do after steering Nottinghamshire to a One-Day Cup and T20 Blast double this season.
Ball and the rest of the England seamers will work with a new coach as they begin preparations without Ottis Gibson who left to accept the head coach job at South Africa at the end of the West Indies Test series.
Former New Zealand bowler Shane Bond has been appointed by the ECB as a bowling consultant, while Paul Collingwood also gets a welcome into the coaching staff by Trevor Bayliss.
England faltered to a 5-0 whitewash to the Australians in 2013-14 tour when Mitchell Johnson steamrolled his way to 37 wickets and David Warner outscored England’s top series runscorer Kevin Pietersen by 523 runs to 294.