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Stokes, Livingstone in England cricket squad for NZ Tests

SYDNEY: Allrounder Ben Stokes was included in England´s 16-man cricket squad for their Test tour of New Zealand Thursday, while Lancashire batsman Liam Livingstone got his first call up.

Seamer Mark Wood returns after struggling with injury, and Ashes underperformers Moeen Ali, James Vince and Mark Stoneman were all retained.

But Gary Ballance, Jake Ball and Tom Curran, who were all part of the Australia Test squad, miss out.

England play two Tests in New Zealand starting in Auckland on March 22 after being thrashed 4-0 by Australia in the Ashes series that ended in Sydney this week.

In the chastening campaign, Australia record four comprehensive wins — including two innings victories and a 10-wicket triumph.

Stokes missed the entire series in Australia after being banned from international duties while police investigate his alleged role in a fight outside a nightclub in Bristol three months ago.

He kept his hand in by playing for Canterbury, his New Zealand birth province, for a month, but has since returned home to be with his wife and young family.

England selectors said he was in the frame “though his involvement remains subject to any relevant legal or disciplinary developments in relation to the incident in Bristol in September”.

“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,” they said.

Livingstone was rewarded for his form with Lancashire, with National Selector James Whitaker saying they had been watching him for some time.

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