Bell and Harmison named in 13-man England squad
Ian Bell, the Warwickshire batsman, has earned a recall to the England squad for the first Test against Pakistan at Lord's on Thursday. Steve Harmison has also been named in a 13-man squad announced this morning which includes five fast bowlers and one spinner, Monty Panesar.
"We have included five pace bowlers in the squad, because we need cover for Matthew Hoggard following the hand injury he sustained while with England A yesterday," David Graveney, England's chairman of selectors, told BBC Radio Five Live.
"Matthew's injury will be reassessed by our medical staff on Tuesday, and we will give him the maximum time he needs to prove his fitness because he is the most experienced member of our attack," he added.
There was no place for Jamie Dalrymple, however. Dalrymple was the sole bright light for England during their calamitous one-day 5-0 whitewash in the one-day series against Sri Lanka and was their second highest run-scorer. He further enhanced his credentials with a slick performance for England A yesterday where he took 4 for 61 to help dismiss Pakistan for 242, but the selectors have instead opted to attack Pakistan with pace.
Bell last played for England against India at Mumbai. Although he was arguably England's most solid batsmen in the preceding tour of Pakistan, he struggled in India with just one fifty in six innings.
Regardless of Hoggard's availability, there is added pressure on Harmison to return to something resembling his best. He missed the third and final Test against India in the winter, and the Test series against Sri Lanka this summer. Though he returned for the one-day series, his radar was sadly lacking and a worrying 24 wides were sent down.
"Yes, without [Andrew Flintoff], there's a great responsibility on our bowlers," Graveney said, "so the likes of Harmison and Hoggard, if available, [have a lot of responsibility]. We had a difficult time against Sri Lanka, but we're looking to change that for Thursday."
Andrew Strauss (capt), Marcus Trescothick, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Geraint Jones (wk), Liam Plunkett, Matthew Hoggard, Sajid Mahmood, Steve Harmison, Jon Lewis, Monty Panesar.