England call up Chapple, Batty and Smith
In the most eagerly-awaited squad announcement for years, the England selectors duly sprung a few surprises with the call-up of three uncapped players, Glen Chapple, Gareth Batty and Ed Smith, in the 13-man squad for next week's third npower Test match against South Africa at Trent Bridge.
Glen Chapple: a surprise call-up to the England squad
Less of a shock was that Anthony McGrath joined Darren Gough on the list of absentees from the last squad, and while the old campaigners Alec Stewart and Nasser Hussain kept their place, Graham Thorpe was not considered due to a back injury.
Chapple's selection was the biggest surprise of the three, even though he has had a prosperous season so far with Lancashire. He has averaged 45.18 with the bat with two hundreds, and taken 27 wickets. Primarily a bowler, his presence would bolster the lower order and he may replace Gough, meaning James Kirtley would miss out again.
Smith has been rewarded for a golden summer with Kent. He has already pummeled 1149 first-class runs at an average of 72.99, including six hundreds and will almost certainly play in place of McGrath. Batty, who played two one-day internationals in Australia last winter, has taken 38 wickets for Worcestershire this season with his looping offspin, and will provide more cover in the spin department alongside Ashley Giles.
Geoff Miller, one of the selectors, today said: "We were looking for continuity as much as possible, and even though we didn't perform well in the first two npower Tests the players we picked we naturally feel are the best to play for England.
"Ed Smith is in prime form and fully deserves his chance having hit six centuries for Kent this year. He will play in place of Anthony McGrath who did very well against Zimbabwe but struggled a bit with his form against South Africa. He has been an excellent team man and hopefully he will resurrect his form in county cricket - he is certainly not out of our thoughts for future England team selections.
"And finally we have picked Gareth Batty and Glen Chapple as extra spin and quick bowling options, both of whom have performed well this season for their respective counties."
England squad Michael Vaughan, James Anderson, Gareth Batty, Mark Butcher, Glen Chapple, Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles, Stephen Harmison, Nasser Hussain, James Kirtley, Ed Smith, Alec Stewart, Marcus Trescothick