England have added James Vince to a 14-man squad for the fourth Test against India, starting at the Ageas Bowl next Thursday. Vince will provide cover for Jonny Bairstow, who sustained a fractured finger during England’s defeat at Trent Bridge.
Vince played the last of his 13 Tests in April on England’s tour of New Zealand, before being dropped at the start of the home summer. He averaged 30.54 over the winter – as opposed to a career mark of 24.90 – and scored all three of his Test fifties to date; he has also been in good form for Hampshire, with innings of 74 and 147 against Nottinghamshire this week.
Vince is only likely to play if Bairstow is deemed unfit, however. England are hopeful that Bairstow will be able to feature as a specialist batsman, with Jos Buttler set to remain behind the stumps after taking over wicketkeeping duties during the third Test and subsequently scoring his maiden hundred.
The only other change to the squad is Jamie Porter missing out, primarily to be available for Essex in the Championship. Keaton Jennings and Alastair Cook have been retained as openers despite neither reaching fifty in the series so far.
“The selection panel felt this was the right time to reintroduce James Vince to the Test squad,” Ed Smith, England’s national selector, said. “James will provide cover in case Jonny Bairstow’s fractured finger prevents him playing in the fourth Test match.
“James returns to the England set-up in confident form and scoring runs. He has been in excellent form for Hampshire in the Specsavers County Championship, with 847 runs at 56.46, including 74 and 147 this week – runs that shaped Hampshire’s win against Nottinghamshire. James’ match-winning runs also helped Hampshire to win the Royal London Cup earlier this summer.
“Jamie Porter has been part of the last three Test squads. But the selection panel did not want him to miss the opportunity of playing for Essex in the next round of Championship matches. He will return to the squad in the event of an injury to a seam bowler.”
Bairstow’s injury could help provide a partial solution to England’s recent batting woes. If he is passed fit as a batsman, he is likely to move up the order to No. 4, allowing Ollie Pope, who is two Tests into his international career, to move down. Moeen Ali, who scored a double-hundred for Worcestershire at Scarborough in the week, is also an option to come in.
Ben Stokes, who suffered a minor knee injury in the Trent Bridge Test, is not expected to be a fitness doubt. After being reassessed by the England medical team, he will be available to play as a batsman in Durham’s Vitality Blast quarter-final on Friday night.