Hales picked for his aggressive batting

Former England captain Mike Atherton feels Alex Hales' selection in the Test squad is the right move, and that coach Trevor Bayliss will have been impressed by the Nottinghamshire man's aggressive batting.

Hales was picked as a replacement for Adam Lyth, who had a miserable Ashes, and though Hales didn't do very well in the ODI series against Australia, his Championship form, and positive technique, tipped the scales his way.

Atherton told Sky Sports of the opening-partner-for-Cook conundrum for the UAE tour to face Pakistan: "England may yet go with Moeen Ali at the top of the order.

"But what I think what may have swayed the selectors is not only Hales' first-class form but the fact Trevor Bayliss likes aggressive players who will ask questions of the bowlers.

"I have some sympathy for Lyth; he can't complain because he didn't do enough in the summer but having played against a top-class attack on some difficult pitches I might have kept him in the team.

"It's very difficult to say the selectors are bang on or have got it wrong, though, as there are four of five openers there who are all much of a muchness."

Former England player Bob Willis agreed with Atherton, and added that Hales would also be a good pick for South Africa at the end of the year, so getting him into the side now was important.

Willis said: "I think it's important that, as a foil to Cook, you have someone who will go down the track to the spinners and has the technique to fend off seam bowlers.

"But what's also in the selectors' mind is Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander in South Africa from Boxing Day and whether Moeen has the technique to stand up to them, so I think Hales and Cook will start in the UAE."

Another batsman dropped was Yorkshire's Gary Ballance, and he was replaced by Notts batsman James Taylor. The latter did his chances no harm by scoring valuable runs in the recent ODIs.

Athers added: "Ballance hasn't gone back to Yorkshire, blown people away and said 'pick me', while Taylor played the pace well in the one-day series and knocked the spinners around nicely, something that will be key against Pakistan."