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January 23, 2013
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Series/Tournaments: England tour of New Zealand
England will not take their Test series in New Zealand lightly with a full-strength squad expected to be named on Thursday for the three matches in March although not all the players who were on duty in India will earn another trip.
The selectors covered many bases with their squad for the India series, which ended up consisting of 19 players after the addition of Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Meaker for a period and later James Tredwell to the party. The squad for New Zealand is set to be a more streamlined 15 names so there will be fewer reserves kicking their heels on the sidelines.
From the original players included for the India tour, Eoin Morgan and Samit Patel are the likely ones to be disappointed this time. Joe Root's impressive Test debut, and continued emergence as an international cricketer, will earn him a run at No. 6 while Nick Compton, although he did not make the major score to make his place impregnable, did enough to warrant at least the three matches in New Zealand.
Jonny Bairstow is expected to be available again following his compassionate leave which means he will return for the T20s and ODIs then provide the batting and wicketkeeping back-up in the Test squad. Bairstow's stock has fallen a little since he replaced Pietersen against South Africa at Lord's, where he made 94 and 54, now finding himself behind Root.
Morgan and Patel will remain fringe Test players. Morgan has stated his desire to return to the longer format, but also said he would assess his IPL commitments when his short-term future in the side was clearer. Omission from this Test squad puts him well down the pecking order again and he may well decide on another lengthy spell in India.
Patel was always likely to be a horses-for-courses selection. England began the India tour wanting someone to provide a fifth-bowling option to balance the side, but it soon became clear his left-arm spin was not Test standard and he sent down fewer overs as the series progressed. Neither did he fully take his chance with the bat, albeit he was on the end of a couple of rough decisions, and further scores of 26 and 33 were not sufficient.
The bowling attack is set to consist of familiar names although the third-seamer's slot in the final XI remains up for grabs. Tim Bresnan will be able to count himself fortunate to travel after a barren second half to 2012. Since the start of the South Africa series he has two Test wickets at 210 apiece. There is a strong case to have a look at one of the younger pace bowlers - Meaker, Chris Woakes or James Harris - but that does not appear to be the approach.
Bresnan, Stuart Broad and Graham Onions will again be competing to support James Anderson and Steven Finn. Broad has ground to make up after a troubled tour of India and his performances in the preceding one-day games could well have a bearing. Onions is the type of bowler who could flourish in New Zealand but will have only one warm-up game to press his case.
Monty Panesar, who sparked England's revival in India, will have to be content with a back-up role again behind Graeme Swann.
Probable England squad Alastair Cook (capt), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Graham Onions, Monty Panesar
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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