• England axe Ballance

    Jonny Bairstow has replaced Yorkshire team-mate Gary Ballance in a 13-man England squad announced Tuesday for the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston starting on July 29.

    England suffered a 405-run thrashing by Australia in the second Test at Lord’s on Sunday as the tourists levelled the five-match series 1-1.

    At Lord’s, England were 29 for three in their first innings and 42 for three in a humiliating second-innings collapse to 103 all out.

    That meant they had now lost their first three wickets for 52 or fewer runs eight times in seven Tests.

    At least one change to the top order was all but inevitable in such circumstances and Ballance, out for 23 and 14 at Lord’s, has been the man omitted.

    He has struggled for runs throughout the season, managing just 134 runs in eight innings so far.

    Bairstow, by contrast, has scored five hundreds in the County Championship.

    He now has a chance to improve on a Test record that has seen him average a modest 26.95 in 14 matches, the last against Australia in Sydney last year when an England defeat meant they suffered a 5-0 Ashes whitewash. – AFP

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