Bell dropped for South Africa tour


Ian Bell has been dropped for England's tour to South Africa after a poor run of form with the bat in Test cricket.

The 33-year-old has not scored a Test century since April against the West Indies, with only four half centuries in his next 23 innings - including three ducks and six scores of one.

His place in the touring party has gone to the returning Gary Ballance, while opener Nick Compton has been given a reprieve over two years since his last Test appearance.

"Ian Bell has been an outstanding player for many years and undoubtedly still has plenty to offer England in the future," said national selector James Whitaker.

"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.

"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."

England will be without pace duo Steven Finn and Mark Wood for the trip, though, after both were ruled out with injury.

Wood suffered an ankle injury during the recent Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and will not be fit in time to travel, while Finn is struggling with a foot problem.

Their absence has handed Chris Jordan, Chris Woakes and Mark Footitt the chance to impress the selectors and earn a place alongside James Anderson and Stuart Broad in England's pace attack.

Samit Patel and Moeen Ali will provide the spin options after Adil Rashid was left out, but there is a place for all-rounder Ben Stokes after making good progress from his collarbone injury sustained in the UAE.

England are set to travel to South Africa in early December ahead of a four-Test series, five ODIs and two Twenty20 internationals.


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