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Ballance recalled for first Test against South Africa

Gary Ballance has forced his way back into the Test squad
Gary Ballance has forced his way back into the Test squad

England have announced a 12-man squad for the upcoming first Test against South Africa that begins on 6th July at Lord's.

Yorkshire skipper Gary Ballance breaks into the squad after amassing 815 runs from eight County Championship matches this season that also includes three centuries and four fifties. He also notched a 56 in the tour game against South Africa while representing England Lions.

After a promising start to his career, the 27-year-old went out of contention following a dip in form but was recalled for the sub-continent tour of Bangladesh, only to be dropped again for the tour of India where he failed to appear in a single game despite being in the squad.

"Gary Ballance could play his first test since October," national selector James Whitaker said in a statement when announcing the side on Sunday.

"He has been in fantastic touch with the bat in the Championship averaging over 100. He deserves to be included and we feel that he will add maturity and experience to our middle-order."

Meanwhile, Liam Dawson, who played a solitary Test against India in Chennai has been retained in the squad while Toby Roland-Jones remains the only uncapped player in the squad.

Durham speedster Mark Wood also makes a return to the Test squad for the first time since 2015 while Jake Ball and Chris Woakes are sidelined with injuries. Keaton Jennings' form in the ongoing County Championship has made him the preferred choice to open with Alastair Cook over Haseeb Hameed.

This will also be the first time Joe Root will take in charge as captain after taking over from Cook.

"There is great excitement around the first test of the summer and with the start of a new era under the captaincy of Joe Root this is an exciting time for English cricket," Whitaker added.

England squad for First Test against South Africa:

Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Liam Dawson, Keaton Jennings, Toby Roland-Jones, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood.

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