Shoaib Bashir handed shock England call-up for India tour as trio vie for Test debuts

Shock call-up: Shoaib Bashir is in the England Test squad to tour India in the New Year (Getty Images)
Shock call-up: Shoaib Bashir is in the England Test squad to tour India in the New Year (Getty Images)

England have handed a shock first international call-up to Somerset spinner Shoaib Bashir as one of three potential Test debutants for the tour of India in the New Year.

Surrey seamer Gus Atkinson and Lancashire’s Tom Hartley could also make their bows in the format during the five-match series, while Ben Foakes and Rehan Ahmed have both earned recalls.

Ollie Pope and Jack Leach, both regulars in the 'Bazball' era, are fit again following the shoulder and back injuries that curtailed their respective summers.

Ben Stokes will lead the team provided his recovery from knee surgery last month goes according to plan, though whether he will be fit to play as an all-rounder is for now unclear.

Atkinson’s call-up continues his swift international rise after he was included in England’s World Cup squad even before making debuts in both white-ball formats at the back end of the summer.

Hartley is less experienced but made his ODI bow against Ireland in September and had been earmarked by England for some time as a player with the skill set to succeed on the subcontinent, his left-arm action drawing comparisons with India’s Axar Patel.

Bashir’s call-up, however, is out of left field. The 20-year-old, who was on Surrey’s books at age-group level, has played just six first-class matches, taking 10 wickets, but clearly impressed during the recent Lions training camp in the UAE.

Whether he will be handed a debut on the tour remains to be seen. England have a history of taking young spinners to India as part of their development and with Leach returning and teenage leggie Ahmed back in contention a year on from his impressive debut in Pakistan, four specialist spinners have been named in the 16-player squad.

Foakes is involved for the first time since last winter’s tour of New Zealand having been dropped at the start of the summer and England face a decision over whether to stick with Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps or return to the Surrey ‘keeper, given his renowned ability with the gloves on turning tracks.

There is no place in the squad for all-rounder Will Jacks, who was a surprise omission from the new round of central contracts in October, while Chris Woakes drops out, having admitted after a superb Ashes that he expected to become a home specialist in Test cricket.

England 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)

Ollie Robinson (Sussex)

Joe Root (Yorkshire)

Mark Wood (Durham)