England name 15 for Stanford's millions
England's selectors have named a 15-man squad for the Stanford Super Series and the seven-match one-day tour of India that gets underway in November, with Ryan Sidebottom earning a recall after an injury disrupted season. He comes in to replace Tim Bresnan, although will have to pass a fitness test, in a squad that is otherwise unchanged from the team that defeated South Africa 4-0 in the recent NatWest Series.
The fact that England have named the same squad for both the Stanford Series and the one-dayers is clearly in the interests of team unity, even though a player like Alastair Cook, who rarely clears the ropes in any form of the game, can hardly expect to feature in the big-money match.
Only players who are in the final eleven will be given a shot at winning a personal fortune of US$1 million, but the remaining four squad members will share another US$1 million between them, while the backroom staff will be well paid as well. The weakening pound is currently making it an even more enticing prospect. In the three months since the match was announced, the potential prize has gone up by more than £50,000.
"The selectors would like to congratulate the team on an outstanding performance in beating such a talented one-day side as South Africa so comprehensively," said national selector Geoff Miller. "It bodes extremely well for the tough challenges that lie ahead this winter and is reflected in our decision to retain the bulk of the squad from this summer's NatWest Series for both the Stanford Super Series and the tour of India."
Steve Harmison, who only came out of ODI retirement last month, is now widely expected to feature in the match. Miller confirmed that Harmison had originally said he didn't want to be considered for the Stanford match - for fear of being seen hunting riches - but said the final selection was based purely on picking the best squad. "We picked the side on cricketing factors, there were no financial implications at all," he said.
The 15-man squad is also a clear shift away from the Twenty20 specialists who were chosen for the ICC World Twenty20 last September. On that occasion the likes of Darren Maddy, Jeremy Snape, James Kirtley and Chris Schofield made the side but were predictably out of their depth. This time around there was a clamour from some quarters to include Graham Napier, who hit 152 against Sussex in the Twenty20 Cup this season, but England have stuck with the tried and tested.
"We talked about it in another long meeting, as they always are," said Miller. "The side that we've picked has got Twenty20 specialists as well. It's not a matter of picking specialists, we have a side that can compete in ODIs and Twenty20."
In a separate announcement, England have unveiled their list of 12 centrally contracted players for the 2008-09 season, as well as a new seven-man Increment Contract list, tailored for those players who are regular squad members, if not guaranteed first-team players.
As widely anticipated, Matthew Hoggard - who has not played for England since the tour of New Zealand in March - is the most notable absentee from the senior contracts list. Stuart Broad, who replaced Hoggard in the team for the second Test of that series in Wellington and has been a notable performer with bat and ball ever since, has been rewarded for his efforts with his first full contract.
There are few surprises in the contracts list, although one man who will be relieved to feature is the former England captain, Michael Vaughan. He has not played limited-overs cricket for more than a year and has been struggling for form in the first-class game as well. Nevertheless his retention is a reward for his diligent service as captain, and will be a significant boost to his morale ahead of next summer's Ashes.
"The award of an England central contract to Michael Vaughan reflects the selectors' view that Michael still has a role to play in the England Test squad over the next 12 months," said Miller.
Vaughan now hopes to find some form during the last few weeks of the season. "I am delighted to get a new central contract which shows me that I still have an international future," he told the Yorkshire website. "I hope to score some runs and help my county to safety in Division One and secure a place in England's touring side."
Miller added that he was delighted that Broad had earned a full contract for the first time in his career. "Stuart has made rapid progress over the past year and adapted extremely well to the challenges of both Test and one-day international cricket."
Players awarded an Increment Contract will receive an additional one-off payment from ECB on top of the salary they receive from their county. These contracts have been awarded, for the most part, to England's one-day specialists, although the announcement of such contracts for both wicketkeepers, Matt Prior and Tim Ambrose, undermines the suspicion that Prior had begun to nudge ahead in his race to cement his place in the team for both Test and one-day cricket.
Squad for Stanford and India ODIs Kevin Pietersen (capt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff, Stephen Harmison, Samit Patel, Matt Prior (wk), Owais Shah, Graeme Swann, Ryan Sidebottom, Luke Wright
Central contracts James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff, Stephen Harmison, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Ryan Sidebottom, Andrew Strauss, Michael Vaughan.
Increment contracts Tim Ambrose, Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel, Matt Prior, Owais Shah, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.