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Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir in England Test squad for India series as Ben Foakes earns recall

Lancashire slow left-armer Tom Hartley and Somerset off-spinner Shoaib Bashir are among the spinners named in England's Test squad for next year's tour of India; wicketkeeper Ben Foakes is recalled too, with Jack Leach and Ollie Pope included after spells out due to injury

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Sky Sports' Nasser Hussain says exciting young spinner Shoaib Bashir 'will fit in absolutely fine' in the England squad to tour India from January

Uncapped duo Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir will form part of a four-pronged spin option for England’s Test team in India in the new year.

Lancashire slow left-armer Hartley, who has two ODI caps to his name, and Somerset off-spinner Bashir are joined in the squad by Jack Leach, who returns after injury ruled him out of this summer's Ashes, and Rehan Ahmed.

There is a return too for wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, who has not featured in the Test team since the drawn series in New Zealand back in February, and another player who has been recovering from injury in Ollie Pope.

England Test squad for tour of India

Ben Stokes (Durham, captain), Rehan Ahmed (Leicestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Gus Atkinson (Surrey), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Shoaib Bashir (Somerset), Harry Brook (Yorkshire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Ben Duckett (Nottinghamshire), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Tom Hartley (Lancashire), Jack Leach (Somerset), Ollie Pope (Surrey, vice-captain), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Mark Wood (Durham).

Leach missed the entire series against Australia in the summer after suffering a stress fracture in his back, while batter Pope suffered a dislocated shoulder which required surgery during the second Test at Lord's.

Seamer Gus Atkinson, who helped Surrey make it back-to-back County Championship titles this year with 20 wickets in five matches at an average of 20.20, is the third uncapped member of the 16-player squad as well.

For Leicestershire leg-spinner Ahmed, currently involved in England's white-ball series in the West Indies, it marks a return to the Test squad after claiming a five-wicket haul on his debut in Pakistan last December.

England v New Zealand - Second LV= Insurance Test Series - Day One - Trent Bridge
England's wicketkeeper Ben Foakes during day one of the Second LV= Insurance Test Series at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. Picture date: Friday June 10, 2022.
Image: Ben Foakes is back in England's Test squad after not featuring during the summer

Key: Bashir can become world-class spinner

Former Surrey youth player Bashir made his first-class debut for Somerset this year and took 10 wickets in his six matches.

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Shoaib Bashir, Somerset off-spinner first-class stats
Image: Shoaib Bashir's first-class stats for Somerset

England men's managing director Rob Key said he has been impressed with Bashir's performances in county cricket for Somerset and on a recent England Lions training camp in Abu Dhabi.

"We saw him last summer and you catch a glimpse of a few balls where you think there is something different there," Key said speaking to Sky Sports.

"Bashir is very raw and he's going for experience as much as anything else. We won't be afraid to play him. Hopefully we'll see a world-class spinner in the future."

As for skipper Ben Stokes fitness after undergoing knee surgery this month to address an ongoing issue, Key added: "Stokes' surgery has been a success but we're not expecting him to bowl.

"We're confident he will be ready for the first Test. We never had him down to be bowling in India out of injury. It's an ongoing process."

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Woakes says omission from India squad is 'fair'

Chris Woakes was a notable omission from the squad, but the Player of the Series during England's 2-2 Ashes draw this summer says he is "at ease" with the decision.

The 34-year-old's Test record overseas is a modest one, averaging 51.88 with the ball, exactly 30 runs per wicket more than he does with his superb record at home.

England's Chris Woakes celebrates dismissing Australia's Usman Khawaja, left, on day five of the fifth Ashes Test match between England and Australia, at The Oval cricket ground in London, Monday, July 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Image: Chris Woakes took 19 wickets in just three Ashes Test during the summer, at an average of 18.15, but misses out on the India tour

"It's mixed emotions," Woakes told reporters. "You're always desperate to be in it, but at the same time, at my age, with my away record - particularly in the subcontinent - I feel like it's a fair decision.

"We had conversations about where my best cricket is likely to be played moving forward and, naturally in Test cricket, it looks likely to be at home.

"It doesn't mean to say that when there's not subcontinent tours that I won't be available, hopefully they'll still potentially pick me in those.

"But I feel at ease with the decision, if that makes sense. The communication was good, I know where I stand so it's fine by me."

England will play five Tests while on tour in India, with the first match getting under way in Hyderabad on Thursday, January 25.

England's Test tour of India fixtures

Thursday January 25 - Monday January 29 2024: India vs England (First Test), Hyderabad

Friday February 2 - Tuesday February 6 2024: India vs England (Second Test), Visakhapatnam

Thursday February 15 - Monday February 19 2024: India vs England (Third Test), Rajkot

Friday February 23 - Tuesday February 27 2024: India vs England (Fourth Test), Ranchi

Thursday March 7 - Monday March 11 2024: India vs England (Fifth Test), Dharamsala

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