Tom Westley and Dawid Malan called up to England Test squad

July 21, 2017

Tom Westley will make his debut for England in the third Test against South Africa at the Kia Oval next week - and Dawid Malan may do likewise.

Essex star Westley, who has averaged over 53 in the LV= County Championships this season, will bat at number three in place of Gary Ballance, who is out with a broken finger.

Middlesex batsman Malan, who has yet to play a Test but made his Twenty20 debut for England earlier this summer, has also been added to the 13-man party. This will make possible a late decision on whether to stick with Liam Dawson as one of two spinners or include Malan as an extra batsman instead. Alternatively, Toby Roland-Jones could make his Test debut as an extra seamer.

Calls for fresh blood in the batting line-up have been loud and numerous after the side made totals of just 205 and 133 in the 340-run defeat in the second Test at Trent Bridge. Others have criticised the flamboyant style of the side, arguing that they often get out playing rash shots when the requirement is to graft during difficult periods.

Mark Stoneman was among the other batting candidates advocated by many commentators, but Westley may have got the nod after making a century for England Lions against a full-strength South African attack last month.

Speaking about his call-up, he said one of the first people to congratulate him was Essex teammate and former England skipper Alastair Cook, who he could find himself batting with in the Test.

Westley remarked: "I've learned so much from Cooky over the years. One of the big things is his demeanour, not just as a batsman but also as a person. 

"He’s an unbelievable role model, and after seeing him close-up with Essex for so long, I'm looking forward to seeing him with England. We’ve had quite a few good partnerships with Essex, so hopefully we can do the same for England."

The selectors will be keen to get the England batting firing soon, not only to combat South Africa's strong pace attack, but also with an eye to the winter's Ashes series in Australia. 

After facing the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel, Westley and the other batsmen will a face a new challenge, when the first day-night Test in England takes place at Edgbaston next month. Those keen to book corporate hospitality for the match may need to move swiftly, as the spectacle of pink-ball action under floodlights has proved so popular that Warwickshire have brought in temporary seating to supplement the ground's normal 25,000 capacity. 

The Edgbaston Test will help England prepare for the day-night Test in Adelaide, but the biggest concern will be to ensure the side is scoring runs regularly, and a Kia Oval Test against South Africa could certainly be a high scoring one.

On their last visit in 2012, the South Africans piled up an extraordinary 631-2 declared in an innings win, with Hashim Amla making 311 not out, the highest Test score by a South African. 

However, the boot was on the other foot in 2003, when England amassed 604-9 declared in a nine-wicket win, with Marcus Trescothick making a double century.

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