After missing the all-important Ashes series, all-rounder Ben Stokes have been included in England's 16-member Test squad for the two-match series starting at Eden Park in Auckland on March 22. England have also named Lancashire batsman Liam Livingstone who has received his maiden call-up for the tour of the Kiwi nation.
The 26-year old all-rounder was banned by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) from taking part in any international competitions for being involved in the Bristol incident in September, which led to his arrest for allegedly inflicting bodily harm on a man.
Reflecting on his inclusion, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said that Stokes was in the frame, though his involvement remains subject to any relevant legal or disciplinary developments in relation to the incident in Bristol.
"Should the ECB Board receive formal confirmation that Stokes has either been charged or that he will face no charges, they would convene within 48 hours to make a decision on his availability for the team at that stage," the board added.
Meanwhile, batsman Livingstone has been rewarded in the wake of his good form with Lancashire and for his good performances with the England Lions in the last couple of years.
"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," national selector James Whitaker
"He is a very talented and tough cricketer who has the ideal qualities and character to be successful in the Test arena," he added.
While seamer Mark Wood has also been recalled in the Test squad after struggling with injury, Ashes underperformers Moeen Ali, James Vince and Mark Stoneman have all been retained.
Wood is back in the squad for the first time since last year, and Whitaker believes he would play a significant part in our forthcoming ODI tour of Australia.
"Mark is now back to full fitness and is looking forward to being part of our Test plans. He will play a significant part in our forthcoming ODI tour of Australia and we will be paying close attention to his efforts over the next few weeks," Whitaker said.
The two sides will play two-match Test series from March 22 in Auckland.
England Test Squad:
Joe Root (C), 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.
(With Agency Inputs)