Surrey offspinner Gareth Batty has been given the chance for a shock return to Test cricket, more than a decade after his most recent appearance in 2005, after being named in a 17-man squad for next month's tour of Bangladesh.
Batty, who will be 39 by the time the first Test gets underway in Chittagong on October 20, will travel as back-up to England's frontline spin pairing of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, but with five Tests against India following directly on from the Bangladesh leg, he has been given a golden opportunity to add to the 11 wickets he claimed in his previous seven Test appearances.
Batty will compete for a spin-bowling berth with his Surrey team-mate Zafar Ansari who might have made his Test debut in the UAE last winter, but for a horrific dislocated thumb that he suffered while fielding at Old Trafford on the very day of his call-up last year. Despite another injury-dogged season, in which he has claimed 22 wickets at 31.40, England's selectors admire his all-round potential, and he would retain valuable balance in England's batting ranks if he were offered his opportunity.
"Selecting four spinners for the Test matches will give the coaches and captain plenty of options," James Whitaker, England's national selector, said. "Alongside Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, we are excited about the qualities that Zafar Ansari and Gareth Batty bring to the squad. Zafar has great potential both with bat and ball and Gareth's experience as one of the country's best slow bowlers and his ability to be effective in subcontinent conditions will be beneficial this winter."
At the top of the order, Lancashire's Haseeb Hameed has, as widely anticipated, been named in his first Test squad and is the favourite to become Alastair Cook's latest opening partner - a decision that was aided by Alex Hales' unavailability due to the security situation in Bangladesh.
Aged just 19 and with fewer than 20 first-class games behind him, Haseeb's selection would, in some ways, constitute a gamble. But he has impressed with his tight technique and unflustered temperament - his director of cricket at Lancashire, Ashley Giles, compares his hatred of losing his wicket as similar to that of Jonathan Trott's - and England's head coach, Trevor Bayliss, is understood to have been impressed by the footage he has seen of him in action.
"Haseeb Hameed, for someone so young, has had an impressive season in the Specsavers County Championship with Lancashire," said Whitaker. "He has been a consistent performer and his four centuries, against some of the best bowling attacks in the country are testament to his outstanding temperament and attitude. We feel he fully deserves an opportunity to compete for a place at the top of the order in our Test side."
However, Hameed will face competition for the opening role from Ben Duckett, the Northamptonshire batsman, who is also named in the 17-man squad following a stellar season in which he has amassed more than 2700 runs in all forms of cricket.
Duckett may seem more likely to make his mark in the three-match ODI series that gets underway at the start of October, when he is expected to open the batting in Hales' absence, alongside Jason Roy, with Joe Root also rested from that leg of England's winter.
However, it has also been announced that Alastair Cook, England's Test captain, will miss England's two two-day warm-up matches in Bangladesh, scheduled to start on October 14 and October 16, to attend the birth of his second child. Although Cook is planning on flying out a week ahead of the rest of the squad before returning to Bangladesh in time for the first Test in Chittagong, which starts on October 20, his absence from the warm-ups could mean a straight shoot-out between the two newcomers, who can expect to open the batting together.
"Ben Duckett merits his call-up to both squads after showing his qualities as an attacking batsman, both in the county game and for the England Lions," Whitaker said. "Throughout the campaign, he has scored heavily for Northamptonshire in first-class cricket, including two double-hundreds. His 220 not out for the England Lions in a 50-over game against Sri Lanka A earlier this summer was very special and we look forward to seeing Ben continue his development at the highest level in the game."
Jos Buttler, England's stand-in one-day captain, is back in England's Test squad for the first time since last winter's tour of UAE, despite having played a solitary red-ball match in 12 months, and will travel as reserve wicketkeeper to the incumbent, Jonny Bairstow, having seen off the claims of Surrey's emerging star, Ben Foakes.
There is a recall, too, for Durham's Mark Wood, who underwent ankle surgery after experiencing problems during the Test series against Pakistan last winter, but who has been in scintillating form since his return to action, particularly in white-ball cricket. With his ability to bowl in excess of 90mph, and find reverse swing, he will doubtless prove an asset on the slow pitches of the subcontinent, even though it is unlikely he will feature in all seven of England's Tests. Steven Finn is also back in the Test squad, having proven his fitness in recent weeks since tweaking a hamstring in the final Test of the summer, at The Oval in August.
It has also been announced that Ottis Gibson will stand in for Paul Farbrace as Bayliss's assistant during the Bangladesh Test series, before returning to their posts for the India leg of the tour. Worcestershire's director of cricket, Steve Rhodes, will assist the England management for the two Tests in Bangladesh, while the former England ODI captain Paul Collingwood and Andy Hurry, the head coach of the England Under-19s, will link up with the squad for the ODIs.
"After a summer of progress at home across all formats, we can expect another test of our credentials this autumn," Whitaker said. "The challenge we face will be very different and the structure of our squads reflects the conditions we expect to encounter in Bangladesh."
England Test squad for Bangladesh: Alastair Cook (Essex) captain, Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Zafar Ansari (Surrey), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Gareth Batty (Surrey), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Ben Duckett (Northamptonshire), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Haseeb Hameed (Lancashire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)
England ODI squad for Bangladesh: Jos Buttler (Lancashire) captain, Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Jake Ball (Nottinghamshire), Sam Billings (Kent), Liam Dawson (Hampshire), Ben Duckett (Northamptonshire), Liam Plunkett (Yorkshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Ben Stokes (Durham), James Vince (Hampshire), David Willey (Yorkshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)