Gareth Batty

Veteran tipped to end 11-year Test exile

Spinner who last played a Test in 2005 among the names thrown around by former England players for subcontinent tours

Former England players Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell have tipped a host of debutants and possibly even a surprise blast from the past for the Test team’s tours of Bangladesh and India later this year.

An influx of spinners is a certainty for the proposed two-Test series in Bangladesh and the five-Test tour of India, while misfiring batsmen James Vince, Alex Hales and Gary Balance are also under pressure to retain their spots in the side.

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Offpsinning allrounder Moeen Ali is set to be joined in the touring party by Adil Rashid, the legspinner who played all three Tests against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates last year and was included in an extended squad for the final three Tests of the return series against Misbah-ul-Haq’s side, which concluded on Sunday.

Vaughan and Tufnell have also floated the prospect a shock Test recall for veteran off-spinner Gareth Batty, who last played a Test for England 11 years ago.

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While Vaughan and Tufnell ultimately didn't include Batty in their proposed squad of 16 for the subcontinent tours, they suggested the 38-year-old could make a surprise return.

"Would you pick the best county spinner? Who is it? It's Gareth Batty," Vaughan told the BBC.

Tufnell agreed: "I think it'll be horses for courses in India, so I think he might have a chance. Why not? You take your best spinner to India, because it's going to spin there."

It's a call that has also been echoed by another former England star in Alec Stewart, who is Director of Cricket at Batty’s county side Surrey.

While Batty's seven-Test career yielded just 11 wickets at 66.63, he had 36 wickets at 28.22 heading into the current round of County Championship matches, the second-most prolific spinner in the competition behind New Zealand's Jeetan Patel (41 at 25.86).

While promoting Batty’s credentials, Vaughan and Tufnell both tipped Hampshire tweaker Liam Dawson to join Moeen and Rashid as the third spinner in the squad, with Vaughan labelling him a “fighter”.

The 26-year-old left-arm orthodox bowler made his T20 international debut against Sri Lanka last month and was part of the recent England A tri series against sides from Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

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Former England captain Vaughan also called for big changes to the batting line-up after a mixed summer with the bat.

While stars Alastair Cook, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow averaged 60.42, 73.14 and 52.28 respectively across the four Tests against Pakistan, Hales (18.12), Vince (22.57) and Ballance (27.85) were less impressive.

"I'm just so disappointed for these (Vince and Hales)," Vaughan said.

"Last week in the second innings Hales and Vince both looked like Test match cricketers and this week they looked like startled rabbits. It frustrates the life out of me.

"I've been really disappointed with Vince because he's got out so consistently the same way, with hard hands."

While Vaughan believes England will persist with Hales at the top of the order, he forecast a promotion to No.5 for Moeen, who rescued England in the first innings at The Oval with 108.

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Calling for fresh blood in the squad, Vaughan believes teenage batsman Haseeb Hameed – who has averaged 51.66 for Lancashire so far this season and scored a timely century against Yorkshire on Saturday - could be the top-order player England is searching for.

Vaughan and Tufnell included Kent's Sam Billings, who scored a century for England A last month, as a back-up batsmen, suggesting former England opener Sam Robson and 21-year-old Northamptonshire batsman Ben Duckett could also feature in selectors' discussions, while Jos Buttler fills the role of back-up wicketkeeper in their chosen group of 16.

Vaughan and Tufnell's squad: Alastair Cook, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Haseeb Hameed, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Mark Wood, Liam Dawson, Jos Buttler, Sam Billings