Hales to open in Test series against SA


England coach Trevor Bayliss has confirmed that Alex Hales will open the batting in the upcoming four-match Test series away against South Africa.

Hales, who has played in 24 ODIs and 37 T20Is for the Three Lions but has yet to make his debut in the longest format, and captain Alastair Cook are the only two specialist opening batsmen in the 16-man squad for the series that starts on Boxing Day in Durban.

Upon arrival in South Africa, Bayliss said: "Halesy has been with the squad for the last couple of series without getting a game. He's the only other opener in the squad so I doubt very much anyone else will take that slot.

"He deserves his opportunity at the top of the order to try and make that spot his own."

Another spot in the side that will be closely scrutinised is who will join Stuart Broad and James Anderson as the third seamer in the starting line-up.

Chris Jordan, Chris Woakes and left-arm seamer Mark Footitt, who is on his first tour with England, will all be vying for that position as Steve Finn and Mark Wood are currently out injured.

Bayliss said of Footitt: "He's got a little bit of pace and being left-handed, that's something different.

"And he swings the ball. If anyone can bowl with decent pace and can swing the ball, that can cause problems for the batters. This tour could be a big one for him."

The Boxing Day game will be followed by the New Year Test at Newlands while the series will conclude with Tests in Johannesburg and Centurion respectively.