U-19s drop Duckett for poor fitness
England Under-19s captain Ben Duckett has been dropped from the tour to UAE for failing to meet minimum fitness standards.
Duckett, who led England Under-19s in the one-day series in South Africa in February and against Pakistan and Bangladesh this summer, was withdrawn from the 17-man squad for a tri-series with Pakistan and UAE.
Kishen Velani, the Essex allrounder, has also been left out on fitness grounds but both he and Northamptonshire wicketkeeper-batsman Duckett will still be given an opportunity to be selected for the Under-19 World Cup in Febraury, also in the UAE. Luke Wood and Saqib Mahmood have been called up in their place.
"The England Development Programme and England Under-19 programme gives us an opportunity to set high standards and expectations for our future England cricketers," the England Development Programme chairman of selectors, David Graveney, said.
"On this occasion Ben and Kishen did not meet the minimum standards required for selection so this presents a great opportunity for Luke and Saqib to experience a challenging overseas tour and to press their case for inclusion in the squad for the Under-19 World Cup."
Northamptonshire's chief executive, David Smith, said there were "no excuses whatsoever" for Duckett's poor fitness. "I'm disappointed in him, not for him," Smith told the Northamptonshire Telegraph. "He's not grasped the need to meet fairly basic standards.
"We pride ourselves at this club on our sports science and making sure our cricketers are fit for purpose. It's not as if he didn't know what was required and they are all well versed in this area.
"Everybody has to be responsible for their own actions and in simple terms, at that age, you should be passing these tests."
Duckett played four first-class matches for Northamptonshire last season, scoring a half-century against Leicestershire, as well as five Yorkshire Bank 40 matches and three in the Friends Life t20. Velani made his first-class debut in Essex's final match of last season, against Hampshire.
Both players will be denied experience in the host country of next year's Under-19 World Cup. England will play six matches in December, three each against Pakistan and UAE, with the fixtures split between Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai.
Hampshire's Tom Baber has also been ruled out with injury. Nottinghamshire seam bowler Wood and 16-year-old Mahmood, from Lancashire, have been added to the squad, which also includes Surrey batsmen Dominic Sibley, who became the youngest player to make a double century in the County Championship.
England Under-19s squad to tour the UAE: Edward Barnard (Worcestershire), Karl Carver (Yorkshire), Joseph Clarke (Worcestershire), Harry Finch (Sussex), Matthew Fisher (Yorkshire), Miles Hammond (Gloucestershire), Ryan Higgins (Middlesex), Robert Jones (Lancashire), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Lewis McManus (Hampshire), William Rhodes (Yorkshire), Robert Sayer (Leicestershire), Josh Shaw (Yorkshire), Dominic Sibley (Surrey), Jonathan Tattersall (Yorkshire), Jack Winslade (Surrey), Luke Wood (Nottinghamshire)