Ballance, Roland-Jones named in England squad
Toby Roland-Jones, the Middlesex seamer, has been handed his first England call-up and Gary Ballance has been recalled for the first Test against Pakistan at Lord's, which starts from July 14. Injuries have kept Ben Stokes and James Anderson on the sidelines while Jos Buttler has not earned a recall.
Roland-Jones, 28, a tall seam bowler, averages 25.17 in first-class cricket and has been on England's radar for a few seasons. Yesterday he played a key role in a notable Middlesex victory over Yorkshire at Scarborough as he clubbed a quickfire unbeaten 79 and took three wickets in the second innings to finish with six in the match. Overall, he has 30 wickets at 29.06 in the County Championship this season; in 2015 he took 48 wickets at 27.04.
Anderson has not recovered sufficiently from his shoulder injury while the selectors want Stokes to play more cricket after his return to action from knee surgery - he has yet to resume bowling for Durham although Trevor Bayliss hinted he may have been included as a batsman.
"Like always, selection is very opinionated, and they could have picked him but the lack of cricket in the last few weeks has meant they've gone that way," Alastair Cook, the England captain, said. "He's just back from a long time out of the game."
It has been confirmed that Joe Root will move up to No. 3 - something Bayliss has pushed for - to fill the spot vacated by Nick Compton which means Ballance, who was dropped during last year's Ashes series, will return in the middle order. Ballance struck his first century of the season against Middlesex this week - he is averaging 33.64 in the Championship - and has fought off competition from the heavily tipped Scott Borthwick who averages 58.50 this season with three centuries.
"He hasn't changed a huge amount in terms of technique, just keep evolving it to keep it in as good a position as you can. What he does have is that hard edge," Cook said.
On Root's promotion, Cook added: "It's a conversation we've had over the last week, it's the right thing to do, he's our best player, and it's quite an Australian thing to do. There's no reason why he won't score same amount of runs as at No. 4."
After the one-day series against Sri Lanka, Bayliss spoke highly of Buttler's credentials and suggested he could return to the Test side as a batsman despite not having played first-class cricket since he was dropped in the UAE last year, but in the end that lack of red-ball cricket has been a deciding factor. It also means that Bairstow will retain the wicketkeeping gloves.
"Those guys and Jason Roy, Tom Westley, Scott Borthwick were all discussed as very good options," Cook said. "The argument with Jos is he hasn't played red-ball cricket for a long time, you do need to know your method."
Jake Ball, the Nottinghamshire seamer, who was in each squad for the Sri Lanka series retains his place despite an elbow niggle and will likely compete for a spot in the final XI with Roland-Jones.
"It's disappointing that Jimmy hasn't made it but Jake's in the squad, he's started the season in fantastic form," Stuart Broad said. "He's had a slight elbow niggle but he's learnt a lot about his bowling in last 18 months and he's ready to make that step up
"He's got physical attributes, he moves the ball both ways, comes round the wicket to the left-handers and hits the ball harder. You can't make judgements about temperament, but he's taken wickets on TV which is a good sign."
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo