Strauss heads to India training camp
Andrew Strauss, the England Test captain, will be among seven key players heading overseas in December to step up their preparations for the series against Pakistan in UAE early next year.
Strauss, Matt Prior and Eoin Morgan, who is recovering from the shoulder injury that ruled him out of the end of the English season and one-day tour of India, will travel to Pune and Mumbai. Meanwhile, four fast bowlers - James Anderson, Chris Tremlett, Stuart Broad and Graham Onions, will head to Potchefstroom in South Africa for a training camp. Both trips are part of the England Performance Programme for the winter.
Like Morgan, Tremlett and Broad are both aiming to make comebacks after injury. Tremlett hasn't played since the first Test against India, at Lord's, after being ruled out of the remainder of the series with a back injury. Broad, England's Twenty20 captain, suffered a shoulder injury in the home one-day series against India which ruled him out of the return tour in October.
Anderson was rested for the tour of India after a heavy workload during the summer and will be expected to lead the attack on flat pitches in the UAE alongside Broad. On Wednesday, Anderson tweeted: "Had my first bowl for two months yesterday, bleep test and fitness testing today. I can't move and my feet are bleeding."
Tremlett will be aiming to reclaim his Test spot which he had cemented following a successful return to the side during the Ashes series, but in his absence Tim Bresnan has made a convincing case to remain in the team having played a key role against India.
Onions is another option for the selectors and they have been very keen to get him back in the set-up following his lengthy lay-off with a serious back injury that threatened his career a year ago. He was drafted into the squad for the final Test against India, at The Oval, when there was doubt over Anderson and was then called into the one-day squad on the subcontinent after Chris Woakes flew home injury although didn't make an appearance.
Meanwhile, Strauss and Prior are Test specialists following Strauss's retirement from ODIs and Prior's omission from the limited-overs set-up. Both players returned to their counties at the end of the domestic season, but haven't had any action since mid-September. Strauss hasn't hit a Test century since his 110 against Australia, at Brisbane, last November and only has two in his last 26 matches.
"These camps will not only see the players working on their cricketing and physical preparations through training but will also involve matches in highly suitable conditions which will provide an invaluable form of practice prior to commencing a Test series in sub-continental conditions," David Parsons, the England performance director, said.
"The players attending these camps didn't participate in England's recent ODI tour of India or have been sidelined through injury so this is the ideal opportunity to build up their preparations during an important period leading into January and provides the talented young players on both the EPP and EDP programmes a chance to train alongside and learn from some of the very best."
England's tour against Pakistan in UAE during January and February includes three Tests, four one-day internationals and three Twenty20s. Their winter is then concluded with a two-Test series in Sri Lanka at the end of March. Although currently ranked No. 1 in Test cricket they could well have lost that position by the time they resume action if South Africa win all their home Test matches against Australia and Sri Lanka.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo