LONDON (Agencies): James Vince could make a return to England duty at his Hampshire home ground after being included in a 14-man squad announced Thursday for next week’s fourth Test against India at Southampton.
Vince was included as cover for fellow batsman Jonny Bairstow, who broke a finger keeping wicket during India’s 203-run win in the third Test at Trent Bridge that saw England’s lead in the five-match series cut to 2-1. Both Vince and Bairstow were selected in a 14-man squad, with the Hampshire batsman replacing uncapped Essex seamer Jamie Porter.
If Bairstow is passed fit, he might play as a specialist batsman, with England white-ball wicket-keeper Jos Buttler continuing behind the stumps after taking over from the Yorkshireman mid-match in the third Test.
Vince was dropped by England after a tour of Australia and New Zealand that left him with overall Test figures of 548 runs from 13 matches at a low average of 24.90 and a top score of 83.
”Excellent form” – But this season the Hampshire captain has scored 847 runs at an average of 56.46 in England’s first-class County Championship. That includes scores of 74 and 147 against Nottinghamshire at Southampton this week.
“The selection panel felt this was the right time to reintroduce James Vince to the Test squad,” said England national selector Ed Smith, who oversaw the 27-year-old Vince’s omission when he announced his first Test squad in charge, at home to Pakistan earlier this season.
“James will provide cover in case Jonny Bairstow’s fractured finger prevents him playing in the fourth Test match.”
While Vince has been piling up the runs, England’s top-order have been struggling, with a first-innings collapse to 161 all out central to their thumping defeat at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge.
And former England batsman Smith added: “James returns to the England set-up in confident form and scoring runs.
“He has been in excellent form for Hampshire in the Specsavers County Championship, with 847 runs at 56.46, including runs that shaped Hampshire’s win against Nottinghamshire.
“James’ match-winning runs also helped Hampshire to win the Royal London Cup earlier this summer.”
India, meanwhile have made two changes to their squad for the final two matches of a series that will culminate with the fifth Test at The Oval in south London, with rising star Prithvi Shaw called up.
The 18-year-old opener has scored an impressive seven centuries in 14 first-class matches to date and he captained India to the Under-19 World Cup title earlier this year.
Shaw has been joined in the squad by fellow batsman Hanuma Vihari, with opener Murali Vijay and left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav both dropping out. Vijay did not play at Trent Bridge after making a pair — two noughts — during India”s innings and 159-run defeat in the second Test at Lord’s.
Kuldeep, a key figure in the preceding limited overs series, failed to make an impact with the ball at Lord’s and was left out at Trent Bridge, with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin the lone specialist slow bowler in what looked like a far better balanced attack for English conditions.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar had been tipped to perform well in England, but there was no recall for the seamer after he missed the first three Tests with a back injury.
England squad for the fourth Test against India at Southampton, August 30-September 03:
Alastair Cook (Essex), Keaton Jennings (Lancashire), Joe Root (Yorkshire, capt), James Vince (Hampshire), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire, wkt), Ben Stokes (Durham), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Sam Curran (Surrey), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire).