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September 27, 2011
The uncapped Surrey fast bowler, Stuart Meaker, has been called into England's one-day squad for their tour of India next week, after the selectors chose to rest their senior paceman, James Anderson, for the five-match ODI series. Kevin Pietersen, who was rested for the home ODI series against India, as well as the two Twenty20s against West Indies at The Oval, has been recalled.
Meaker is yet another player to have been born in South Africa, but like his fellow Surrey seamer, Jade Dernbach, he learnt his cricket in England, in his case at Cranleigh School in Surrey. He has spent the last two winters on the ECB's Fast Bowling Programme, and made his debut for England Lions against Sri Lanka A this summer.
The Warwickshire allrounder Chris Woakes has also been called into the squad, along with the Durham legspinner, Scott Borthwick, who impressed with a spell of 1 for 15 in his four overs against West Indies on Sunday. Anderson, who has had a heavy workload this summer, will be allowed a break from international cricket until the squad travels to the UAE in January for their Test and ODI series against Pakistan, while Durham's Ben Stokes has not been selected so that he can undergo a rehabilitation programme on a finger injury.
Two additional players, Jos Buttler (Somerset) and Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), will join the squad ahead of the Twenty20 fixture on 29 October, almost certainly to replace the ODI captain, Alastair Cook, and the Test and ODI No. 3, Jonathan Trott. Assuming he recovers from a shoulder injury, Stuart Broad, the Twenty20 captain, will link up with the squad in Kolkata ahead of the one-off fixture on October 29. Otherwise Graeme Swann will continue as captain.
"This squad contains an exciting balance of experienced international cricketers along with some very talented younger players who can play the high quality limited-overs cricket needed to challenge India," said the national selector, Geoff Miller. "A number of injuries and a decision to omit James Anderson in line with our policy of sensibly managing player workloads give opportunities for other very talented players to continue to develop as international cricketers.
"We had a promising one-day series win over India earlier this month and this squad will be looking forward to the challenge of continuing that success in the sub-continent over the next four weeks," added Miller. "The additions to the squad for the Twenty20 fixture will strengthen the squad and provide Jos Buttler and Alex Hales with valuable experience of playing in the subcontinent.
"Stuart Broad is currently undergoing a period of rehabilitation for a shoulder injury, however he will join the squad in India if he completes his rehabilitation programme ahead of schedule," said Miller. "Graeme Swann will once again lead the Twenty20 side if Stuart is unable to join the squad."
Regardless of how much significance was attached to England's 25-run defeat in the second of those T20s on Sunday, their failure to chase 114 on a turning deck served to emphasise the challenge that confronts the squad in the coming series. Batting against spin bowling on dusty, slow surfaces will - if India are serious about exacting some measure of revenge for their humbling recent tour - be the regular formula during the five ODIs and Twenty20 match.
With that in mind, the recall of Pietersen is significant, especially in light of reports that he was set to retire from the limited-overs format. However, a series against India on home soil isn't the best place for complete experimentation, and with Eoin Morgan ruled out until January, England's middle order does need a dose of experience.
Cook and Trott will obviously be included - and the debate about the top three won't be far behind - but without Pietersen the slots from No. 4 to No. 6 would have been a little light on proven ability, despite Ravi Bopara's recent performances and Jonny Bairstow's confident debut.
Pietersen, though, is under some serious pressure. His ODI average over the last two years is 23.30 and his last hundred came against India, at Cuttack, shortly before he lost the captaincy. While his Test and Twenty20 form has recovered, that revival hasn't transferred to 50 overs. Perhaps it's a lack of motivation with ODIs not providing the fulsome challenge of Test cricket or instant thrill of 20 overs. This series could be his last chance to show he really has the hunger to play all three formats. The Pietersen of 2008 would clearly enhance a developing side, but the Pietersen of 2009-2011 is a spare part.
A number of the younger players that were selected against West Indies will be heading to India. Borthwick impressed against West Indies, and has nudged in ahead of Danny Briggs, the Hampshire left-arm spinner, who didn't get a game in those fixtures. It's also an important tour for Samit Patel who needs to put in consistent all-round displays and prove his fitness levels in testing conditions.
The pace attack will once again be without Broad or Anderson, which will give another opportunity to the improving Steven Finn after he regularly touched 90mph towards the end of the season. Bowling in the subcontinent will be another stage in his development but he'll be able to tap into the knowledge of his debut Test series against Bangladesh.
ODI squad Alastair Cook (capt), Jonathan Bairstow, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Scott Borthwick, Tim Bresnan, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Craig Kieswetter, Stuart Meaker, Samit Patel, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott, Chris Woakes
*Jos Buttler and Alex Hales will join for Twenty20 international
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