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Taylor has to settle for performance place

George Dobell
September 18, 2012 « Belfort: Bisping is an old school UFC warrior | Chartbeat test »
James Taylor has been involved with England in 2012 © Getty Images
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James Taylor must console himself with a place on the England Performance Programme having been omitted from the Test squad to tour India.

The 22-year-old Taylor played in the final two Tests of the series against South Africa, making 34 at Leeds, where he added 147 with Kevin Pietersen, and 10 and 4 at Lord's, where he was run out in the second innings.

While he did not enjoy a prolific first season in Division One of the County Championship - he averaged 35.45 for Nottinghamshire in 2012 - he has a good reputation as a player of spin bowling and might have been seen as the man in possession. Instead two men without Test caps, Joe Root and Nick Compton, have been preferred in the Test squad.

Taylor is in pole position should England require a replacement, however. The Performance squad will also travel to India in mid-November so will be on hand if any member of the full squad suffers injury or illness. Ian Bell is expected to miss the second Test of the series in order to attend the birth of his first child.

There is no place in either squad for Ravi Bopara. He has struggled to recover any semblance of form and confidence since declaring himself unavailable for the second Test against South Africa due to personal problems. It may be wrong to read too much into that, though, as Chris Woakes and James Tredwell have also been excluded from both squads. Steven Davies, who has been the reserve Test wicketkeeper for the last few years, also finds himself out of both squads having lost his form and his Surrey place towards the end of the season.

There is better news for 19-year-old Ben Foakes. The Essex wicketkeeper has played only five first-class games, but has impressed with both his batting and his glovework for England Under-19 and has been promoted above a host of rivals into the England set-up. Gary Ballance, Zimbabwe born and the nephew of Dave Houghton, is also included in an England squad for the first time having only recently qualified. Ballance represented Zimbabwe in the U19 World Cup in 2006. Two other wicketkeepers, Jos Buttler and Craig Kieswetter, have also been named in the squad.

There are call-ups, too, for Chris Wright and Toby Roland-Jones, two seamers who enjoyed good county seasons, while Azeem Rafiq is one of four spinners, alongside Scott Borthwick, Danny Briggs, who claimed only five Championship wickets in 2012, and Simon Kerrigan. Varun Chopra has been rewarded for his consistency with Warwickshire over the last couple of years and is the only specialist opening batsman in the squad.

Meanwhile Leicestershire's Josh Cobb has been named as England captain for the Hong Kong Sixes. Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire are the only three counties without representation in any of the squads named on Monday.

England Performance squad: Jos Buttler (Somerset), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Scott Borthwick (Durham), Danny Briggs (Hampshire), Varun Chopra (Warwickshire), Matthew Coles (Kent), Jade Dernbach (Surrey), Ben Foakes (Essex), James Harris (Glamorgan), Simon Kerrigan (Lancashire), Craig Kieswetter (Somerset), Stuart Meaker (Surrey), Azeem Rafiq (Yorkshire), Toby Roland-Jones (Middlesex), Ben Stokes (Durham), James Taylor (Nottinghamshire), Chris Wright (Warwickshire)

Hong Kong Sixes squad: Josh Cobb (capt, Leicestershire), Adam Ball (Kent), Keith Barker (Warwickshire), Ben Brown (Sussex), Chris Nash (Sussex), Tom Smith (Lancashire), Ross Whiteley (Derbyshire)

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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