Bresnan, Swann elbow their way back
The ECB's elbow surgeon has earned his fee after both Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann returned to England's Test squad for the opening match of the season against New Zealand, at Lord's, following their successful operations in the first part of the year.
The pair both played their previous Tests in Nagpur during December. Bresnan then went for elbow surgery after the one-day series in India while Swann had his in March after being ruled out of the series in New Zealand.
Bresnan is the fourth pace bowler in a 12-man squad alongside the incumbent trio of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn while Graham Onions, who is playing for England Lions this week and was on tour in New Zealand, misses out. Although unlikely that he will make the starting XI, Bresnan could yet force his way past Finn whose form for Middlesex has not been entirely convincing early in the season.
As the impact of his elbow problem took full effect, Bresnan's Test form tailed off badly last year and he has taken two wickets in his last four matches at 210 apiece. However, he has started the season promisingly for Yorkshire with 11 wickets at 27.63 and reports are that his pace is back to somewhere near 2011 levels.
Geoff Miller, the national selectors, said: "Both Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan have worked hard to regain fitness following elbow surgery and have demonstrated through their performances for their counties that they are ready for the challenge of international cricket."
The other players who were on the most recent tour but not required for the opening Test are Chris Woakes, James Tredwell and Monty Panesar, while Kevin Pietersen was ruled out of this series and the Champions Trophy earlier in the month.
As expected, Jonny Bairstow retains his place as Pietersen's replacement in the middle order, having been drafted in under tough circumstances in Auckland after just one first-class innings, against India in Mumbai, since last September. His twin failures were predictable, and understandable, but he has impressed at the start of this season for Yorkshire and has done enough to ward off his nearest challengers.
Bairstow will also have fond memories of Lord's, the scene of his Test debut against West Indies last year and also his most convincing Test performance, when he made 95 and 54 against South Africa after, again, being an understudy for Pietersen. His technique has, at times, been picked apart at Test level but that is a rite of passage for young player.
England needed a monumental final-day rearguard to escape New Zealand with a 0-0 draw - Matt Prior, Ian Bell and Broad being to the fore - and that indifferent performance in a series they were expected to dominate ensured there would be no resting or rotating of key players for this series despite it being at the start of a hectic season.
"We will need to improve significantly on our performances in the recent Test series against them if we are to start the international summer on a positive note," Miller said. "This series provides a good opportunity for the players to show that they have learnt from the experiences over the winter."
England squad Alastair Cook (capt), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, James Anderson, Tim Bresnan
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo