England recall Stewart, Crawley, Cork and Tudor
As was widely expected, Alec Stewart is back in the England squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka which starts at Lord's on Thursday. The Surrey wicket-keeper takes the place of Essex's James Foster, who is likely to miss the series against Sri Lanka after breaking his arm in the nets at Chelmsford a week ago. There are also recalls for John Crawley, Dominic Cork and Alex Tudor.
Stewart, 39, hasn't played for England since the final Test at The Oval last summer. He decided to miss the tour of India and as a result was not selected for the ensuing trip to New Zealand. However Foster's injury and Stewart's early-season form (99 and 96 in his first two first-class innings) have given the Surrey man the opportunity to add to his 115 England caps.
Excellent form at the start of the season has also prompted the three other recalls to the 13-man squad. Crawley, 30, made 272 in his first innings for his new county, Hampshire, putting behind him a difficult winter in which he extricated himself from his Lancashire contract following his replacement as captain. If he plays, it will be his first international appearance since the final Test against Australia at Sydney in January 1999.
Cork, also 30, has had more than anyone to do with Derbyshire's stunning start to the season (three wins out of three) in the Frizzell County Championship. He returns on the ground where he has savoured much success, including seven for 43 on his debut against the West Indies in 1995 and his memorable, unbeaten 33 to win the Test against the West Indies two years ago.
Tudor, 24, was recalled for part of last summer's Ashes series and then spent the winter with the ECB Academy in Australia. He has been a consistent wicket-taker for Surrey over the past month.
The chairman of selectors, David Graveney, said Crawley's move to Hampshire had a lot to do with his recall, while Cork's current form, as well as his record at Lord's, influenced his selection.
"John Crawley has been in outstanding form this season, is benefiting from being freed from the captaincy role he had at Lancashire and has also scored a Test hundred against Sri Lanka before," he said.
"We feel that Dominic Cork's bowling suits the particular requirements of Lord's - especially if the wicket performs in the same way it has for the last two years.
"We had a lengthy discussion about the choice of extra batsman and looked at Ian Bell, David Fulton and Robert Key as well as John Crawley. With regard to Ian, he has matured a lot as a cricketer over the winter, but we feel that he hasn't always played on the best possible wickets so far this summer and therefore has been unable to spend a lot of time in the middle.
"Dominic has been in good form for Derbyshire, is very fit and his action is now back to where it was three years ago. He deserves his place back in the squad."
Graveney added that that Stewart was the obvious replacement for the injured Foster.
"Now that Alec is available again, we see him as the leading candidate for the wicketkeeping job in James' absence. He is in good form this season, he understands the position with James and is determined to prove to the selectors that he has an international future.
"Alex Tudor has been troubled by injury in the past but he was a major benefactor of the National Academy's winter in Australia and has also been in good form this summer. He has been in and out of the Test side before, but we hope that he can now be a consistent performer for England."
The full squad is:
Nasser Hussain (Essex, captain) Age 34, Tests 68; Marcus Trescothick (Somerset) 26, 22; Mark Butcher (Surrey) 29, 38; Michael Vaughan (Yorkshire) 27, 16; Graham Thorpe (Surrey) 32, 73; John Crawley (Hampshire) 30, 29; Alec Stewart (Surrey, wicket-keeper) 39, 115; Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire) 24, 15; Dominic Cork (Derbyshire) 30, 31; Ashley Giles (Warwickshire) 29, 13; Alex Tudor (Surrey) 24, 5; Andrew Caddick (Somerset) 33, 53, Matthew Hoggard (Yorkshire) 25, 8.