Bell and Vaughan ignored but Bresnan earns call-up
Any concern that Andy Flower's first squad as the official England coach might run to form has been blown away with three of the biggest names all missing out. Ian Bell, Michael Vaughan and Steve Harmison have all been ignored for the first Test against West Indies, while there were call-ups for Tim Bresnan, the Yorkshire allrounder, and Graham Onions from Durham.
There is also no place for Owais Shah who struggled in the West Indies and Ravi Bopara will bat at three as England put a clear emphasis on the future. Shah initially replaced Bell after the first Test in Jamaica but missed his chance as he made just 133 at 22.16 and has spent the last two weeks unable to get a game in the IPL.
It had been expected that the No. 3 slot would go to either Vaughan or Bell, but instead the selectors have opted for youth over experience. Bopara, who cracked his maiden Test century in Barbados before being dropped for the next Test, has long been considered a long-term option as No.3, and now he has his chance to cement it for good.
"The selectors felt that Ravi Bopara deserved his chance after his performance in his single Test in the Caribbean this winter," Geoff Miller, the national selector, said. "There was a lot of competition for that batting position but Bopara now has the opportunity to stake a claim. He showed in Barbados that he has the ability to play at Test level."
Bell has started the season in fine style with 172 in the Championship and 108 in the Friends Provident Trophy but it has been enough to convince the selectors he is ready for a recall. "We need to get him even more passionate about playing...so he doesn't lose his place again," Miller said.
Vaughan's form has been far less convincing despite 82 against Sussex at the weekend and his chances of regaining a Test slot for the Ashes have receded further.
The bowling attack will provoke as much debate as the batting line-up with Bresnan and Onions bringing a fresh look after a winter where England didn't take 20 wickets in any of the Tests. Bresnan, who was briefly recalled to the one-day squad last summer, played for MCC at Lord's at the start of the season and has since impressive with Yorkshire while Onions claimed a five-wicket last week to advance his claims.
"This is very exciting for the two young fast bowlers to be included in the squad for a Lord's Test match and sends a message to all county players that if they put in consistently good performances they will get recognised," Miller said. "Both have had good starts to this season and had been close to Test match selection on a number of occasions. They have earned their place in the party."
With just five batsmen in the squad England will field an attacking line-up, with Matt Prior continuing at No. 6, on a ground where they have struggled to bowl sides out. Since the 2005 Ashes Test there have been six consecutive draws at Lord's, but Flower has ensured he has varied bowling options at his disposal with Monty Panesar also included as a possible partner for Graeme Swann.
England squad Andrew Strauss (capt), James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Graham Onions, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior (wk), Graeme Swann