The England cricket selectors have been slammed for their choices in dropping three players from the Ashes Test squad for their upcoming Test series against New Zealand.
The under-fire team will retain James Vince and Mark Stoneman despite lacklustre performances in their 4-0 Ashes series loss.
Instead, Gary Ballance, Jake Ball and Tom Curran missed selection, players who were barely seen in the horrendous trip to Australia.
Ballance did not feature in the Ashes, Ball featured only in the first Test and Curran was a late addition to the squad before turning out in Melbourne and Sydney.
Management's decision to only drop players who barely featured has not been missed by cricket fans and a former Australian cricket legend.
That’s hilarious... Gary Balance didn’t even play a bloody game!! So it’s his fault.. too funny. https://t.co/5LKH1fHlBd— Dean Jones (@ProfDeano) January 10, 2018
"It does seem remarkable that despite their repeated collective failure in the Ashes, England's top and middle order are set to remain unchanged" @Aggerscricket on the NZ Test squad.— Test Match Special (@bbctms) January 10, 2018
What was the point in taking Ballance to Aus and then dropping him? 🤔 Stoneman looks class at times but is Vince the answer? (His classy drive aside)— Danny Hall (@dannyhall04) January 10, 2018
Curran goes and Ali remains. Poms must think Black Caps will be a push over in NZ. Weather and pitch conditions would have suited Curran better then Ali. Poor decision by ECB in my opinion— Tony Jackson (@TonyJac97630978) January 10, 2018
Yeah....That’ll fix everything.— Chris Neave (@nuggsyradio) January 10, 2018
England won’t win a thing while they are making such poor decisions #investinthefuture— Jason (@jfarrob79) January 11, 2018
Curran is desperately unlucky. Picked to bowl on two roads in Syd and Melb and didn’t disgrace himself. He’s the sort of player England should be investing in.— Paul Nolan (@pwnolan) January 10, 2018
Why would they drop Curran - one of the few to actually show a bit of fight.— Benjamin J Brady (@BenjaminJBrady) January 10, 2018
Coach Trevor Bayliss made a strong case for the retention of Stoneman and Vince when reviewing the campaign earlier this week, but the pair underperformed against Australia and there is little doubt that this show of faith requires immediate payback if they are to remain in the side.
England play two warm-up matches in Hamilton before their gruelling winter schedule finally comes to a close with Tests in Auckland on March 22 and Christchurch on March 30.
Livingstone, 24, is the spare batsman on tour and will likely push harder for a place than Ballance, who resembled little more than a place holder during the Ashes.
"Liam has been a player that we have been impressed with for quite some time, having performed well in the county system with Lancashire and over the past couple of years with the England Lions," England selector James Whitaker said.
"He is a very talented and tough cricketer who has the ideal qualities and character to be successful in the Test arena. During the recent Lions tour of Australia, he was a standout performer and showed a lot of maturity in his attitude and put in some strong performances."
Wood, meanwhile, would have been present for the Test leg in Australia had he been considered fit and robust enough for the challenge.
He is currently with England's limited-overs squad as they look to exact a measure of revenge for the Ashes.
As has been the case with the past three squad announcements, all-rounder Stokes appears with a caveat next to his name, as he waits to find out if he will be charged by the Crown Prosecution Service.
ENGLAND SQUAD: Joe Root (capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Ben Foakes, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.