Bell dropped, Compton recalled for SA Tests

England

Veteran batsman Ian Bell has been excluded from England's squad for December 2015 and January 2016's Test series against South Africa.

The South African-born Nick Compton and Zimbabwe-born Gary Ballance have been recalled, while fast bowlers Mark Wood and Steven Finn were not considered due to respective ankle and foot injuries.

The uncapped Mark Footitt has been included – and spinning all-rounder Samit Patel retained.

The 16-man squad features two wicketkeeper-batsman in the talented Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler. The hard-hitting Alex Hales, meanwhile, was preferred to the out-of-form Adam Lyth.

"Ian Bell has been an outstanding player for many years and undoubtedly still has plenty to offer England in the future. It was clearly a difficult decision but he has struggled for runs in recent series and we felt that it was the right time for him to take a break and spend time working on his game out of the spotlight," said national selector James Whitaker.

"The inclusion of Nick Compton and Gary Ballance alongside Alex Hales, Joe Root and James Taylor gives Trevor Bayliss and Alastair Cook plenty of options in the top order.

"Adil Rashid showed plenty of promise in the UAE but the conditions in South Africa make the likelihood of playing two spinners extremely remote. Although he would have been selected as a back up spinner we feel there is an excellent opportunity for him to spend some time developing his white ball skills in the lead up to the ICC World T20 in March. It is likely that Adil will travel to Australia to play for a Big Bash franchise."

The Proteas and English will meet for four Tests. The series opener will get underway at Kingsmead in Durban on 26 December.

Squad Alastair Cook (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Nick Compton, Mark Footitt, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Samit Patel, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, Chris Woakes.

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