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England set to name Hampshire spinner Liam Dawson in 12-man squad to face South Africa at Lord's

  • England will name Liam Dawson in their squad for the first Test on Thursday
  • Dawson could miss out if they decide to hand a first cap to Toby Roland-Jones
  • Both players have been included in a 12-man squad for the Lord's Test match
  • Gary Ballance has also been recalled to the side after being dropped last year

England will spring a surprise by naming Hampshire spinner Liam Dawson in their squad for Thursday's first Test against South Africa but Dawson could miss out if they opt to give a first cap to Middlesex seamer Toby Roland-Jones.

The pair are part of a 12-man squad for Lord's which also includes Gary Ballance, the Yorkshire batsman who was dropped over the winter following a poor run in what was his second stab at Test cricket.

But Ballance, who is averaging over 101 in this season's County Championship, is known to be a favourite of England's new Test captain Joe Root, who attended the selection meeting at Worcester's New Road on Friday.

England are set to name Hampshire spinner Liam Dawson in their squad to face South Africa

England are set to name Hampshire spinner Liam Dawson in their squad to face South Africa

One source close to the discussion said: 'You have to be fair to Joe in his first series.' Ballance could even go straight in at No 3 to allow his captain to fill his favoured slot at No 4.

The selection means no place for Roland-Jones's county colleague Dawid Malan, who had impressed coach Trevor Bayliss during a series-clinching 78 off 44 balls in the third Twenty20 international against South Africa in Cardiff on Sunday.

Also omitted are Surrey's in-form opener Mark Stoneman, Hampshire leg-spinner Mason Crane who struggled for England Lions against South Africa at Worcester on Friday, conceding 89 in 16 wicketless overs and fellow leggie Adil Rashid, whose Test days look increasingly numbered.

Dawson made his Test debut for England in the fifth Test match against India in December

Dawson made his Test debut for England in the fifth Test match against India in December

Dawson, on the other hand, is clearly regarded as a safe pair of hands, despite a modest domestic record that has brought him only 151 first-class wickets in 125 matches at an average of almost 37.

But Root was impressed with the way he held up an end during his Test debut in Chennai before Christmas, when India racked up 759 for seven the highest score England have ever conceded. Dawson also made an unbeaten 66 in the first innings.

Whether he wins a second cap will depend on conditions at Lord's next week. Roland-Jones, who made his one-day international debut at his home ground against South Africa in May, could form part of a five-man seam attack a reflection, perhaps, of the selectors' concerns over Ben Stokes's knee and Stuart Broad's heel.

England's squad: Joe Root (capt), Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Liam Dawson, Toby Roland-Jones, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, Jimmy Anderson.

Tags Sport Cricket

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Journalist, writer and broadcaster, based in London and Paris, her latest book is Touché: A French Woman's Take on the English. Read more articles from Agnes.

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