Anderson, Bairstow and Wood return for England Test tour of South Africa

James Anderson and Jonny Bairstow have been recalled for England’s tour of South Africa.

The pair – who sat out the recent series defeat to New Zealand – are joined by Mark Wood, who last played Test cricket in February.

Durham paceman Wood has been recovering from a left knee injury and side strain sustained during the ICC World Cup final in July, but spinner Moeen Ali remains unavailable.

National selector Ed Smith, said: “With James Anderson and Mark Wood returning to the squad, Saqib Mahmood is the unfortunate player to miss out.

England v Australia – First Test – Day Four – 2019 Ashes Series – Edgbaston
Moeen Ali is not available to return to Test cricket yet (Mike Egerton//PA Images).

“It is not predicted that Mark will be available for selection for the earliest matches.

“However, he will travel with the team and continue his rehab work with the medical staff on tour.

“There is no exact date given for his return, but the medical team is working towards him becoming fully available for selection during the tour.

“With that in mind, and given the extended period that James and Mark have had on the sidelines due to injury, it was sensible to have a 17-man squad.

The 37-year-old Anderson has been recovering from a calf injury which kept him out of most this summer’s Ashes.

Lancashire v Middlesex – Specsavers County Championship – Division Two – Day Four – Old Trafford
Lancashire quick Saqib Mahmood misses out on selection for Test series (Anthony Devlin/PA Images).

Both Anderson and Wood have been working with coaches Glen Chapple and Neil Killeen in a bid to hit the ground running when the tour starts with a warm-up match against a South Africa Invitational XI on December 17.

Bairstow was dropped for the New Zealand series after averaging 23.77 during this summer’s Ashes – a move that backfired when newcomer Ollie Pope had to deputise behind the stumps for the second Test in Hamilton after Jos Buttler sustained an injury.

Jack Leach will continue as England’s front-line spinner and Smith said: “Moeen Ali, who asked to take a break from Test cricket last summer, remains unavailable for Test selection.”

The four-match Test series, which starts at Centurion on Boxing Day, forms part of the ICC World Test Championship and will be the first time in the competition that England have played away from home.

Joe Root’s team will be looking to close in on India and Australia, who are currently leading the standings.

England squad: Joe Root (Yorkshire, capt), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Jonathan Bairstow (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Joe Denly (Kent), Jack Leach (Somerset), Matthew Parkinson (Lancashire), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Dominic Sibley (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham, vice-capt), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham).

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