Cook’s fate was sealed once Eoin Morgan’s appointment as the new one-day skipper was decided at Friday’s selection meeting, while all-rounder Stokes pays the price for a recent record of four wickets and 84 runs in eight games.
England’s selectors have instead opted to recall Test batsman Ballance, the Yorkshire left-hander who averages a little over 26 in 12 ODIs and was dropped for the recent 5-2 series defeat in Sri Lanka.
Cook, Stokes and left-arm seamer Harry Gurney miss out from that touring party as senior fast bowlers Stuart Broad and James Anderson return for next month’s tri-series against Australia and India and the World Cup a month later.
The 15th place in the squad appeared to be a straight fight beteen Stokes and Ian Bell, who has gone eight games without passing 50 and was dropped after two matches in Sri Lanka.
James Taylor impressed as his replacement and is in pole position to go into the new year as England’s No 3 behind an opening pair of Alex Hales and Moeen Ali.
That would leave Bell in reserve, and Bob Willis expects Ballance to fill a similar role.
He told Sports News HQ: “With Ballance probably coming into the squad late on, how is he going to get enough cricket to really stake a case for himself?
“I would see in the tri-series Ballance and Ian Bell as the reserve batsmen and possibly Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes as the reserve bowlers.”
England squad:??Morgan (c), Ali, Anderson, Ballance, Bell, Bopara, Broad, Buttler, Finn, Hales, Jordan, Root, Taylor, Tredwell, Woakes.