Pietersen set to miss World Twenty20 squad
Less than 24 hours after seeing their No. 1 Test ranking slip away England will name their squads for the World Twenty20 and the one-day series against South Africa. Kevin Pietersen, the focus of so much attention over the last few weeks, is not expected to be among the names chosen.
There remains a huge amount of work to do between Pietersen and the ECB to create a path for his return to international cricket after his omission from the final Test against South Africa. There remains uncertainty over when the two sides will meet and while Pietersen's relationship with Andrew Strauss has the been the focus of the attention, the teams in the next few weeks will be led by England's other captains, Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad.
When the selectors sat down to pick the World Twenty20 squad two weeks ago Pietersen was officially retired from limited-overs international cricket, only to announce, via YouTube, that he was now available for all formats the day before he was dropped from the Test side.
England had started the process of moving on from Pietersen with Ian Bell slotting in at the top of the 50-over side and Alex Hales making 99 against West Indies at Trent Bridge in the T20I. The Twenty20 side would clearly be stronger with Pietersen included - his Man-of-the-Tournament display in the Caribbean was stunning - but the selectors would have been loath to ditch Hales.
England's batting, though, faces a mighty challenge in Sri Lanka in conditions that will test their techniques against spin, which remains the weaker suit. The rest of the batting order will have to be at the peak of their powers to compensate for the loss of Pietersen. Eoin Morgan becomes a key figure, a player with a similar X-factor quality to Pietersen who can turn a game in an instant.
The other issue the selectors have to decide on is Ravi Bopara, who has just returned to action following his personal problems, having earlier in the season cemented his one-day place with a strong series against Australia. He has a month to get back into cricket before the tournament - there may be consideration to leaving him out of the one-day series against South Africa - but England do not want to be left with any last-minute dramas to solve if his issues reoccur. The ECB is likely to have checked with the ICC if they would be allowed a replacement.
Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler are likely to make up the middle-order batting options while there could be a vacancy for a player able to fill a variety of roles if injury or illness occurred. As a batsman Bell fills the remit, but someone like Luke Wright would give full all-round options and the experience of having been part of the 2010 success. In that regard, do not discount Michael Lumb from discussions after his move to Nottinghamshire sparked his career, which had slumped following his brief England spell.
The bowling attack poses fewer issues with most names nailed on although James Anderson faces a nervous wait having not been regular in Twenty20 cricket. Chris Woakes, the Warwickshire allrounder, has pushed his claims recently while Surrey's Stuart Meaker could be an outside chance. Back-up, or support, for Graeme Swann will be required even though Samit Patel will be the second spinner. In a tournament environment experience is important so that could earn James Tredwell the nod ahead of Danny Briggs.
Possible World Twenty20 squad Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter, Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Samit Patel, Luke Wright, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steven Finn, James Tredwell, Jade Dernbach
Possible ODI squad Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Craig Kieswetter, Samit Patel, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, James Anderson, Jade Dernbach
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo