England have dropped mainstays Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes from their team to face New Zealand in tonight’s second and final Test against New Zealand in Christchurch.
Out-of-form all-rounder Moeen was widely-expected to lose his place if England decided to make changes after their innings-and-49-run defeat in Auckland.
Frontline seamer Woakes’s absence from a 12 announced after nets on Thursday is more surprising - with batsman James Vince, uncapped spinner Jack Leach and fit-again fast bowler Mark Wood instead included.
England still face a tough selection call on the morning of a critical match - complicated by the likelihood all-rounder Ben Stokes will remain unavailable to bowl.
Stokes did so in the nets on Wednesday, but not 24 hours on, as he continues to struggle with a stiff back.
The tourists face the quandary of going in light on either batting or bowling as they try to avoid ending their tough Ashes winter with a second series defeat and record 13th away Test in succession without victory.
Minus Vince, they will have a curiously long tail. Without slow left-armer Leach, the pace of Wood or Craig Overton’s steady seamers, they will have only four bowling options - unless Stokes reports fit to play his full all-round role after all.
England’s 12-man squad (v New Zealand in Christchurch): JE Root (capt), AN Cook, JM Vince, MD Stoneman, DJ Malan, BA Stokes, JM Bairstow (wkt), C Overton, SCJ Broad, JM Anderson, MJ Leach, MA Wood.