This is likely to be the end for Bell as England head coach opts to freshen up the squad.
LONDON: It is very hard to envisage England picking Ian Bell again. To drop such an experienced player for a tour to South Africa, the best team in the world at the moment, sends a pretty strong message that you think his career is over.
England won the Ashes last summer and we have a habit when that happens of thinking everything is rosy. Ashes wins should not be allowed to blur the real picture. England lost six Test matches in 2015. That is a lot.
It has been an inconsistent year, which may be one reason why Trevor Bayliss wants to go with a different approach. Younger players have a fresher mindset.
The coach has had six months to look at the team and obviously feels Bell is not the player he expected him to be. Bell has been technically poor for a while.
His front foot has not been moving towards the ball and he has opened up his body, so he has been beaten by deliveries pitched on off stump that move away. He has been bringing his bat down with half a face and snicking balls he would hit down the ground when he is playing well.
Bayliss has also seen the way James Taylor has grabbed his chance, showing real energy and enthusiasm, and has probably wondered if there are more guys like him out there, desperate for their chance. There comes a time when enough is enough and you have to bring a new batch of players through.
Perhaps the England management feel Bell's desire has gone. His comments at the end of the Ashes, when he hinted he was thinking about retirement, would have set a few alarm bells ringing. They know that once a player's mind starts moving on they are never really the same again.
But there are two points to be made. One is that Bell has been in this situation before. He has twice had dips and come back a stronger player. He is one of those batsmen who suddenly clicks. The fluency comes back as his confidence returns. There could still have been one more comeback, but we may never know that now, although he says he is determined to fight for his place.
Secondly, England have recalled two players - Gary Ballance and Nick Compton - who were dropped after having chances to prove themselves. They are decent players but a top five with Alex Hales, Compton (who I think will bat at three) and Taylor is big risk against South Africa's bowling. It reminds me a little of 1999 when we went there with a lot of inexperience and lost heavily. South Africa is a very tough tour and England have to get off to a great start in Durban.
It is why I would have been tempted to keep Bell for one more tour. Alastair Cook is the only batsman in the squad who has played Test cricket in South Africa. It will be hard for Ballance and Compton because it is always difficult to come back into the team having been dropped. You do not get as many opportunities second time around. The pressure is on straight away.
It will be interesting to see whether Ballance has changed his technique or been stubborn. He has to get his head moving towards the ball rather than hang on the back foot. If not, he will be exposed again by pace. Only he knows whether he is doing that because he is worried about the short ball, which he will face a lot in South Africa.
England look at Compton and see him as a steadying influence. I would like to see him bat at three, where he plays for Middlesex, and wear down the bowlers: he could be the new Jonathan Trott. England's batting line-up is pretty flamboyant. Hales, Joe Root and Ben Stokes need complementing with players like Cook and Compton. This is a great chance for him if he can handle the pressure.
I am surprised Liam Plunkett has not been picked and it shows that sometimes you are better off being out of a squad rather than travelling on tour and not playing. I cannot really see what Chris Jordan has done to jump ahead of him and the same goes for Samit Patel over Zafar Ansari.
Perhaps he has not fully recovered from his hand injury but Patel did not show enough in one Test to be picked over Ansari.