New Zealand v England Tests

Livingstone gets England Test call-up

England axe three players from Test squad that lost the Ashes 4-0 and add a rising batting star to face Black Caps

Cricket Network

11 January 2018, 09:13 AM AEST

England have handed a Test reprieve to under-fire Ashes batsmen Mark Stoneman and James Vince, but axed unused reserve batsman Gary Ballance from their squad to face New Zealand.

Ben Stokes has again been named in an England squad while his playing future remains clouded as the investigation into his alleged involvement in a Bristol street brawl remains ongoing.

England named a 16-man squad to face the Black Caps in two Tests in March, welcoming back Durham seamer Mark Wood and calling up Lancashire batsman Liam Livingstone for the first time.

Ballance, Jake Ball and Tom Curran have all been ditched from the squad that fell to a 4-0 defeat in the Magellan Ashes series.

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Livingstone, a 24-year-old right-hand batsman from Lancashire, has been identified as a rising talent by the England selectors.

"Liam has been a player that we have been impressed with for quite some time, having performed well in the county system with Lancashire and over the past couple of years with the England Lions," said National Selector James Whitaker.

"He is a very talented and tough cricketer who has the ideal qualities and character to be successful in the Test arena.

"During the recent Lions tour of Australia, he was a standout performer and showed a lot of maturity in his attitude and put in some strong performances. We are particularly impressed with the way he bats against spin and is equally adept against the seamers.

"Liam is also highly regarded at his county Lancashire and will captain the side in the Specsavers County Championship during the 2018 campaign."

Wood, who missed the Ashes campaign with injury, is expected to play in the Gillette ODI series against Australia that starts Sunday at the MCG.

"After a frustrating period with injuries, Mark is now back to full fitness and is looking forward to being part of our Test plans. He will play a significant part in our forthcoming ODI tour of Australia and we will be paying close attention to his efforts over the next few weeks," said Whitaker.

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Stokes' inclusion remains subject to any relevant legal or disciplinary developments in relation to the alleged brawl in Bristol in September.

England's statement reaffirmed that once the ECB has formal confirmation of any charge, or that the allrounder will face no charges, an internal discipline commission would convene within 48 hours to make a decision on his availability.

Whitaker said the three dropped players "have worked hard on the recent Ashes tour".

"Unfortunately, they miss out on selection for New Zealand. All three will return to county cricket and will be looking to start the season well with a view to staking their claim to get back into selection reckoning. They are talented players and I am sure their time will come again."

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Ben Foakes, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

England's v New Zealand fixtures

First Test (D/N) March 22-26, Eden Park, Auckland

Second Test March 30 - April 3, Hagley Oval, Christchurch

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