Clarke and Collingwood in - Bicknell, Kirtley and Smith out
David Graveney: 'We were mindful of the need to learn lessons from the drawn series against South Africa'
© Getty Images 2003
England's selectors today named the parties for the first section of this winter's tour. England play two Tests and three ODIs in Bangladesh before flying to Sri Lanka for three more ODIs and three Tests. The tour starts on Oct 8 and finishes on Dec 23 - the players then return home for Christmas before a revised team travels to the West Indies in March.
Only eight of the players who took part in this week's amazing victory over South Africa at The Oval have been included in the 15-man Test squad. The odd ones out are Martin Bicknell and Ed Smith - and Alec Stewart, who has announced his retirement. Stewart's likely replacement is Chris Read, the Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper who has already won three Test caps, but there is also a place for the highly rated Kent keeper Geraint Jones. At 27 - two years older than Read - Jones was a late starter in county cricket but has made a fine impression since taking over fulltime from Paul Nixon at Canterbury this year. He has had an interesting path to England colours: he was born in Papua New Guinea and schooled in Australia. But, as that Christian name suggests, he has Welsh parents, which qualifies him for England selection.
Smith misses out after a mixed showing in his three Tests against South Africa. He started well, with 64 at Trent Bridge, but struggled afterwards - although his fielding, thought to be a worry beforehand, stood up well, culminating in a fine swoop to take the final catch at The Oval. But with Graham Thorpe a certain selection after his own Oval heroics and Nasser Hussain returning after injury, there was no room for another batsman once the selectors decided against taking 16 players.
Bicknell is unfortunate to miss out after his fine second-innings form at The Oval, but lack of pace and surfeit of years counted against him. James Kirtley misses out too, despite taking five wickets on debut at Trent Bridge. Instead the pace battery comprises James Anderson, Stephen Harmison and the returning Matthew Hoggard. Kirtley does at least feature in the squad for the one-day section of the tour.
There was no recall at this stage for Robert Croft, the Glamorgan offspinner who has done his best work for England overseas, with 35 wickets in nine Tests. Instead the selectors have opted for Ashley Giles (a star of England's previous trip to Sri Lanka in 2000-01) and Gareth Batty, the Worcestershire offspinner who was in the squads for the third and fifth Tests against South Africa this summer but failed to make the final cut. But, with the pitches in Sri Lanka expected to help the spinners, the selectors may bolster the spin department after the Bangladesh leg of the tour - and Croft may come back into the reckoning then.
The main surprises came in the form of call-ups for the allrounders Rikki Clarke and Paul Collingwood. Clarke, 22, has had a subdued season for Surrey - only 491 runs (admittedly at an average of 49) and nine wickets in nine County Championship matches to date. Collingwood, previously seen as something of a one-day specialist, he missed most of the season with a shoulder injury, but has returned successfully recently.
Apart from Kirtley, five other players have been named only in the one-day squad - the usual suspects Vikram Solanki, Anthony McGrath, Ian Blackwell, and Richard Johnson, plus Andrew Strauss, the 26-year-old Middlesex captain. Strauss, who was born in Johannesburg, has enjoyed a fine season, and has the advantage of being an opener. He is also seen as an outsider to become Vaughan's eventual successor as captain.
There was no place for Darren Gough in the one-day squad, suggesting that the international career of England's leading fast bowler of the past decade has come to an end. Gough predictably took it badly: "I'm bitterly disappointed," he said. "They've picked that many bowlers this summer they had to fit them in somewhere so they've shared them out and I was the easy target to miss out. In one-day cricket in the last game I was Man of the Match [the NatWest Series final against South Africa] and I think a lot of people expected me to be still in the one-day squad because I'm still a good one-day bowler. I expected to be picked."
David Graveney, England's chairman of selectors, explained his panel's thinking: "In choosing the Test squad, we were mindful of the need to learn lessons from the drawn series against South Africa and ensure we have the right options available in the very different conditions we will face in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Our batting line-up at present is strong and we can draw on a nucleus of highly experienced Test batsmen plus a genuine all-rounder in Andrew Flintoff. The inclusion of Paul Collingwood and Rikki Clarke in the squad will also give us the option, where necessary, to strengthen our batting line-up still further and build totals which the captain can defend with what is a young and relatively inexperienced bowling attack.
"Martin Bicknell and James Kirtley both made strong contributions in the recent npower Test series and were considered as seam bowlers, but Matthew Hoggard was preferred as we feel that his type of bowling will be most effective in the conditions we are likely to face on the subcontinent. We decided not to opt for a third spin bowler in the Test squad at this stage. But we will review the position after the tour to Bangladesh. Jason Brown, Robert Croft and Ian Blackwell will be considered as possible spin bowling options for the Sri Lankan Tests if required. Chris Read will be our first choice wicketkeeper and Geraint Jones will understudy him.
"The one-day squad performed well to win both the NatWest Challenge and the NatWest Series this summer and the bulk of that squad has been retained for the winter. The injection of youth and energy in the field was an important factor in our success and we have kept faith with a number of younger players who we feel could play a part in the World Cup in 2007. Darren Gough still remains a selection option for the second part of the winter in one-day cricket. However, as part of our planning for 2007, the selectors needed to look at other options regarding bowling bearing in mind the playing conditions in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
"Andrew Strauss has performed well in both forms of the county game this season and his inclusion will give us another batting option and also maintain the high standards of fielding we are seeking to achieve in one-day cricket."
The selectors also named a 14-man Academy squad, which will undergo training at Loughborough as well as undertaking tours to Malaysia and India. It includes Simon Jones, the Glamorgan fast bowler on the comeback trail, and Kevin Pietersen, the prolific Nottinghamshire batsman who was born in South Africa and doesn't become eligible for full England selection until the end of the 2004 season.
England Test squad
Michael Vaughan (capt), Marcus Trescothick, Mark Butcher, Nasser Hussain, Graham Thorpe, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, Rikki Clarke, Chris Read (wk), Geraint Jones (wk), Ashley Giles, Gareth Batty, Matthew Hoggard, Stephen Harmison, James Anderson.
Vaughan (capt), Trescothick, Vikram Solanki, Andrew Strauss, Anthony McGrath, Flintoff, Collingwood, Clarke, Read (wk), Ian Blackwell, Giles, Batty, Richard Johnson, James Kirtley, Anderson.
England Academy squad
Kadeer Ali (Worcs), Simon Francis (Somerset), Alex Gidman (Gloucs), Simon Jones (Glamorgan), Shaftab Khalid (Worcs), Michael Lumb (Yorks), Sajid Mahmood (Lancs), Graham Napier (Essex), Scott Newman (Surrey), Kevin Pietersen (Notts), Matthew Prior (Sussex), Bilal Shafayat (Notts), James Tredwell (Kent), Graham Wagg (Warwicks).