Luke Wright and Liam Plunkett are the two big surprises in the England test squad to tour South Africa this winter named on Thrursday.
No other shocks as the selectors have kept faith with the majority of the Ashes squad and selected the players named on Central Contracts last month.
From my point of view, although I agree with the consistency policy, I would have liked to see another batsman in the squad.
With England only naming six batsman and with the likely make up of the side being Matt Prior batting at number six, this squad gives me the impression that Cook and Collingwood are assured of their places and that Trott and Bell are likely to have to fight it out for the number 3 spot.
In adding another batsman, namely Joe Denly this would have allowed the selectors extra options at the top of the order and also shown the under performing Cook that he can’t keep taking his place for granted, a luxury I believe he has. Cook could easily have been dropped early on in the fateful West Indies tour but for lack of batting cover.
It would also have given the selectors the option of putting Denly or Cook at number 3 should they get the ususal problems in that position, given their reluctance to push Kevin Pietersen up to that spot.
In the bowling department although he was the man in posession of the shirt at the end of The Oval test match, Steve Harmison is overlooked and probably for the last time this time. Harmison has paid the price for a succession of poor tours over the years. Although I’m a fan and probably would have given him one last chance, the selectors decision is totally understandable and I wouldn’t argue with it.
His repalcement Liam Plunkett, is a debatable one. There is no outstanding candidate out there and this selection could have been made from one of many, I would imagine the fact that Plunkett has took wickets playing in a successful team and as a result is in good form has swung the decision in his favour.
The inclusion of Luke Wright is the one that baffles me, I think he has potential to be a good ODI player but never imagined him as a test player. Had a feeling the selectors might have wanted to take someone in the Flintoff mould on tour and thought it would be Tim Bresnen – who I also don’t believe to be test class. They have obviously seen something they like and at least on a tour they can have a long look at him and see how he gets on.
Test squad: Strauss (captain), Cook, Bell, Trott, Pietersen, Collingwood, Prior, Davies, Wright, Broad, Swann, Rashid, Onions, Sidebottom, Anderson, Plunkett.
In the One Day International squad Owais Shah’s 98 against South Africa hasn’t been enough to save his place, another decision you can’t really argue with if you look at the summer as a whole. He came good in one game and thats not good enough although you could argue it’s good enough to keep one or two in the test team, no problem with him getting dropped but I think he’s entitled to think ‘if only I had as many lives as some of the test batsmen’.
Similar to Ravi Bopara, I would imagine that both he and Shah’s allround performances have been looked at. Not only has their batting let them down but their running between the wickets and fielding have been a joke.
In Bopara’s case he has time on his side and can go back to Essex and tighten up his technique and try and iron the casualness and sloppyness out of his allround game – at the crease and in the field – that seems to let him down most for me. As for Shah I think thats it. In for those two – as expected – come Pietersen and Trott and also added to the squad for some reason or another is Alastair Cook.
The only other significant change is Saj Mahmood coming in for Ryan Sidebottom. For my part I thought it was time to have a look at Mahmood again in ODI’s as he has the variety for this type of cricket. It is just a case of has he still got the looseness to go with it.
One-day squad: Strauss (captain), Cook, Denly, Morgan, Trott, Pietersen, Collingwood, Prior, Wright, Broad, Swann, Rashid, Onions, Anderson, Mahmood, Bresnan.