Flintoff and Trescothick stay at home
The England selectors today announced their one-day squads to tour Zimbabwe and South Africa this winter. Andrew Flintoff and Marcus Trescothick were both rested for the Zimbabwe leg of the trip, and while Ashley Giles was given the option to rest too, he chose to make himself available.
The squad includes four players new to one-day internationals: Ian Bell, Simon Jones, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior. Flintoff, Giles, Trescothick and Steve Harmison (who opted out of the Zimbabwe trip on moral grounds last week) have all been included in the 15-man squad for the one-dayers in South Africa in the New Year, along with Worcestershire's Kabir Ali.
Darren Gough, written off by many after some lacklustre performances in the recent Champions Trophy, gets another chance to prolong his dream of playing in the 2007 World Cup. David Graveney, England's chairman of selectors, explained that Gough had a lot to offer the younger bowlers, and would be keen to show that his recent dip in form wasn't terminal.
The South African-born Pietersen, 24, only becomes eligible for full England selection at the end of October, so has been rushed into the side at the first opportunity following several productive seasons with Nottinghamshire. Prior, 22, who was also born in South Africa, impressed on tour with England A last winter, and has had another good season with the bat for Sussex, for whom he also keeps wicket.
The concessions made by the ECB management regarding Flintoff and Trescothick had a trade-off, and that was that Michael Vaughan led the side. "As the ECB is a member of the global cricket family, we have a duty to protect the integrity of the international game and ensure that the level of competition on any England tour is not diluted by the wholesale resting of players without good reason," said David Morgan, the ECB's chairman. "After carefully considering the matter, Michael has chosen to lead the team in Zimbabwe mindful of his responsibilities both to his fellow players and to the long-term future of cricket in this country. He deserves great credit for doing so.
"Neither the ECB nor the captain condones the situation in Zimbabwe and I would like to re-emphasise that the team will not be involved in state functions during this tour."
"Under normal circumstances, I would have welcomed an extended break after a long international season," Vaughan explained. "But the England team and the game as a whole are faced with an extraordinary situation in undertaking this tour to Zimbabwe. I am proud to be captain of my country and I feel that I have a duty to my team-mates to lead the team on this tour. It has taken me considerable time and effort to come to this decision, but ultimately it was my choice and one that I stand by.
"While I certainly do not condone what is happening in Zimbabwe, I do not want to shirk my responsibilities as England captain and would not want to let the burden of captaincy fall onto another player's shoulders."
England will play two warm-up matches in Namibia ahead of the Zimbabwe series.
England squad to tour Zimbabwe
Michael Vaughan (capt), Vikram Solanki, Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Kevin Pietersen, Matthew Prior, Geraint Jones (wk), Gareth Batty, Ashley Giles, Simon Jones, Alex Wharf, Darren Gough, James Anderson.
England one-day squad for South Africa
Michael Vaughan (capt), Marcus Trescothick, Vikram Solanki, Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Geraint Jones (wk), Gareth Batty, Kabir Ali, Ashley Giles, Alex Wharf, Darren Gough, Steve Harmison, James Anderson.