England got big decisions wrong for South Africa tour squad

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England's squad to tour South Africa this winter was announced last week and Trevor Bayliss has sprung a few surprises in his selection.

Not all of them have been met with praise from the media and former players so let's examine the most controversial decisions.

The first major choice regarded the judgement to leave Ian Bell out. It is no secret that there is a lack of depth in the batting department across the English game.


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While Bell has had a very poor 2015, there were signs of improvement in Pakistan and not many thought he deserved to be dropped. Furthermore, recalling Gary Ballance and Nick Compton shows the a lack of talent available in the county championship.

Verdict: Bell's experience was required against the best attack in the world and should have stayed in the squad.

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The second decision was to leave Adil Rashid out and keep Samit Patel in the squad.

This is an extremely negative decision because Rashid is a spinner who won't necessarily give Cook control but will take wickets.

Patel will not offer either of those, and the Yorkshire all-rounder was the only spinner in the UAE who made a significant contribution in a match, in taking that five-wicket haul in Abu Dhabi.

Verdict: Rashid should have been the back-up spinner to help him gain confidence while being around the camp, however, this decision will only drain his morale further.

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The inclusion of the three seamers to support Stuart Broad and James Anderson is a strange one. While the addition of Mark Footitt is a promising step forward from the selectors, the inclusion of Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes is a safe one.

In South Africa, pace will be vital and these two just simply don't offer that. Woakes is a handy lower order batsmen, and Jordan is a superb slip fielder. However, the exclusion of Liam Plunkett, someone who possesses natural, roaring pace is puzzling as this should have been the main criteria for selection.

Verdict: Inclusion of Footitt is exciting, however, Plunkett should be in for either Jordan or Woakes.

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So who should start in Durban?

Openers: Alistair Cook and Alex Hales should be England's long term opening partnership for the foreseeable future.

Middle Order: Nick Compton, Joe Root, James Taylor, Ben Stokes, Jos Butler. While doubts remain if Compton is good enough to play for England, he is the best option on this tour, and the selectors have outlined that Bairstow is not a "top six batsmen". Therefore, Butler will retain his place after good form in the current ODI series.

Spinner: Has to be Moeen Ali over Samit, he will be England's only spinner in South Africa and will bat at 8

Fast bowlers: Broad and Anderson are a guarantee therefore that leaves Footitt, Woakes or Jordan. The selectors will more than likely go with the formerly mentioned because, not only can he bowl up to 90mph, he is also a left-armer which will really help his cause. So Broad at 9, Anderson at 10 and the uncapped Footitt at 11 will complete the side.

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Ian Bell
England cricket

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