England recall Birch and offer Davies debut
Stephanie Davies is in line for her England debut after being called into the 15-player squad for the Australia and New Zealand tours this winter. Rosalie Birch is also recalled after being dropped a year ago, with the selectors saying they are impressed by her hard work and improvement.
Davies has been a consistent performer for Somerset and in the Super 4s, and has England Development experience. Mark Dobson, England's coach, said: "She offers us additional depth in our batting and bowling departments and it'll be a great opportunity for her to show what she can do at the next level."
Birch started the 2005-06 tour of the subcontinent well, with two four-wicket hauls against Sri Lanka, but took one wicket in four spells since, while she has averaged just over 3 in her last seven innings. However, Dobson is confident that Birch, 23, is ready again for the challenge of top-flight cricket.
"Rosalie has put in a lot of hours to improve her action and her batting," he said, "and we're happy with the development. She's great to have in the squad and we're all confident she'll have a good tour."
Holly Colvin will feature on the Australia leg, but studies rule her out of the New Zealand matches (she is the final year of her A Levels), so Charlie Russell, who made her debut against the White Ferns earlier this year, will replace her as the front-line spinner.
Katherine Brunt, the fast bowler, has not yet recovered from her back injury sustained in February 2007, a real blow for England in their bid to retain the Ashes. Brunt was crucial to their success in 2005. Lynsey Askew, her fellow pace bowler, is also unavailable with a finger injury.
England, who will be led by Charlotte Edwards, need just one draw to retain the trophy they won under Clare Connor's captaincy in 2005, with just one Test scheduled on the tour, at the Bowral Oval near Sydney. They also play Australia in a Twenty20 and an ODI series before a whirlwind tour of New Zealand comprising five ODIs in eight days.
Edwards said: "This squad is a great blend of youth and experience with nine from the victorious 2005 Ashes team travelling to Australia. This demonstrates continuity in selection, which is excellent preparation as we look ahead to the World Cup in 2009. It's going to be a tough tour this winter, but we definitely have the talent to challenge both Australia and New Zealand."
Caroline Atkins, Claire Taylor, Charlotte Edwards, Sarah Taylor (wk) Rosalie Birch, Stephanie Davies, Jenny Gunn, Laura Marsh, Beth Morgan, Lydia Greenway, Isa Guha, Holly Colvin, Charlotte Russell, Nicola Shaw, Jane Smit (wk).