ENGLAND chief Rob Key has moved to explain why spinner Liam Dawson has been left out of the England squad for their test tour of India which starts in January.

The experienced cricketer was not included in the 16-man touring party with four other spin bowlers chosen ahead of Dawson.

Somerset off-spinner Shoaib Bashir, 20, Lancashire left-armer Tom Hartley, and 19 year old Rehan Ahmed will join Jack Leach in spin-friendly conditions.

Dawson had an excellent 2023 county championship campaign for Hampshire picking up 49 wickets as well as scoring three centuries with the bat.

Managing director of England men’s cricket, Key insisted: "He is probably not someone who wants to go around India as the 15th or 16th man.

"If he's not going to play then I don't think it's high on his agenda to be going as essentially a replacement bowler.

“We also feel, for the style of bowling, someone like Hartley, we bet that he will be a real handful out there and you’ve got Leach to lead the attack with the ball.

“You almost have to disregard what’s happened in county cricket, because it’s a very different style of bowling.

“It’s about trying to work out who’s going to be the best players for what we’re coming up against, and that’s where we’ve ended up.”

Despite the decision, Key thinks the all-rounder has improved since he last featured for the test side against South Africa in 2017.

He continued: “I think he is an excellent cricketer, and you have his batting. To be honest, I think Liam Dawson has gotten better over the last couple of years.

“I played on a tour with him when he was 19 and I’ve always liked him. I just feel like the style of bowling that Hartley has, it puts him ahead of him, to be honest.”

The five-match series will begin on January 25 in Hyderabad, with the final test taking place at the beginning of March.