Stoinis: Australia have to keep their foot on England's throat


England selectors have taken a hatchet to the squad that surrendered the Ashes 4-0 in Australia - and their selections have gone down like a lead balloon.

In arriving at the sanction, the ICC noted the comprehensive response provided by Cricket Australia, which did not contest the rating given to the pitch by the ICC Match Referee, Ranjan Madugalle, but highlighted that the ground is a frequently used venue that has no history of preparing poor pitches for global cricket, and indicated that there was a commitment by both the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) and Cricket Australia to improve the pitches presented for worldwide cricket at the MCG in the future.

The two-Test series between New Zealand and England begins on March 22 at Eden Park, Auckland. Livingstone already featured in the T20I squad against South Africa.

Fast bowler Mark Wood was also included after recovering from injury.

Livingstone impressed for Lancashire last season, scoring 803 runs at an average of 47.24, and was one of the best performers on the recent Lions tour to Australia. As things stand, however, he would not be available for the two Test matches in New Zealand.

"It's great news for the Club too and credit must go to the Lancashire pathway and age-group system".

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From the Ashes touring squad, batsman Gary Ballance and bowlers Jake Ball and Tom Curran have been dropped.

The 24-year-old Lancashire captain has been on the radar of the national selectors for some time - with former England coach Andy Flower, now in charge of the Lions, also a fan.

Stokes missed the entire series in Australia after being banned from global duties while police investigate his alleged role in a fight outside a nightclub in Bristol three months ago.

The England and Wales Cricket Board have made him unavailable until a decision is made on whether Stokes will be charged over the incident, but have consistently picked him subject to a change in his circumstances.

"He is a very talented and tough cricketer who has the ideal qualities and character to be successful in the Test arena". He was ruled out of the Ashes tour because of an ankle injury although he travelled with the squad for the last few weeks as he built back up to full fitness. Ball played in the first match at the Gabba and then was not seen again while Curran, a late call-up, was ineffectual in his two Tests at the MCG and SCG.