Pakistan v England 2011-12 December 9, 2011

Panesar named for Pakistan Tests

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Monty Panesar has been given hope of relaunching his Test career after being named in England's squad to take on Pakistan in UAE next month. The 16-man party is very much as expected with Ravi Bopara retaining the spare batting slot and Steven Davies, the Surrey wicketkeeper, given the role of Matt Prior's understudy as he was in Australia.

In a sign of the consistency that has been a hallmark of England's Test cricket over the last 18 months there is only one change from the original 16-man squad that travelled to Australia last year with Bopara replacing Paul Collingwood. The trio of players who have been recovering from injury - Stuart Broad (shoulder), Eoin Morgan (shoulder) and Chris Tremlett (back) - are all included although there remains a small injury cloud over Tim Bresnan who has recently undergone elbow surgery.

"This series sees Steven Davies once again deputise as wicketkeeper to Matt Prior while Monty Panesar, who has been playing cricket in Sydney recently, has been selected as the second spin option along with Graeme Swann," Geoff Miller, the national selector, said. "Monty's selection comes off the back of a strong domestic season with Sussex and with the potentially spin-friendly conditions of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in mind.

"Ravi Bopara has another opportunity to show his growth as a Test player and we believe he will continue to add depth to our batting stocks for what promises to be a highly competitive series."

Panesar remains the second-best spinner available for England and was the logical option to work alongside Graeme Swann. His last Test was against Australia, at Cardiff, in 2009 when he produced the famous last-wicket rearguard with James Anderson to save the match. He moved to Sussex to rejuvenate his career and last season he was the highest wicket-taker in Division One of the County Championship in 2011 with 69 victims at 27.24.

Yet, whether Panesar makes the first eleven will depend on the willingness of Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower to move away from the current balance of six batsmen, the keeper and four bowlers - albeit in conditions that haven't demanded a second spinner, or specialist fifth bowler - unless they opt for the risky strategy of two quicks and two spinners.

The prolific form of England's top five, Prior's consistency in Test cricket, plus the developing allround skills of Bresnan and Broad, suggest England could cope with the shift in strategy but don't be surprised to see the balance remain the same. However, there is little doubt that at some point next year - whether in UAE, Sri Lanka or India - England will need two spinners in the same attack.

Bopara has clung onto his place in England's Test plans after replacing the injured Jonathan Trott against India and has fought off the claims of James Taylor, Samit Patel and Jonny Bairstow. Davies, meanwhile, is back in an England squad for the first time since the one-day series in Australia during which he was omitted from the World Cup party.

"We believe we've selected a very strong squad with a number of key players looking to return from injury including the likes of Stuart Broad, Eoin Morgan and Chris Tremlett," Miller said. "All three have missed a significant period of cricket recently but continue to make excellent progress and will be looking forward to having a substantial impact during this series. To have three world-class players of their calibre returning to the squad is an enormous boost for the Test team.

"We've been very pleased with the preparations undertaken by a number of players during what continues to be a lengthy break from international cricket. Several players are attending training camps with the England performance programmes in South Africa and India. With a long lead-in period once the squad arrives in Dubai there will be a substantial amount of preparation time to acclimatise and adapt to the conditions."

England have two three-day warm-up matches before the first Test on January 16 although the opposition is still to be confirmed. Tremlett and Steven Finn, the two other pace bowlers in the squad, will view that as an opportunity to push for recalls but may have to bide their time.

Squad Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn, Ravi Bopara, Monty Panesar, Steven Davies

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 5wombats on December 12, 2011, 21:02 GMT

    @JG2704 - hi again mate. Yes indeed @rahulcricket007 was really bigging it up all the way through until Sehwag got his King-Pair. Then he, along with many india fans realised that the game was up and just quietly melted away like ice-cream in the heat. Along with @IndiaNumeroDeux some of these guys just don't know when to stop. This goes back a long way. Many india fans couldn't resist commenting on The Ashes - saying what they were going to do to England, etc. Now that England have done that to them - they find it hard to accept the reality. please publish.

  • JG2704 on December 12, 2011, 18:04 GMT

    @Posted by RandyOZ on (December 11 2011, 03:01 AM GMT) - re so many comments on here. Probably because England are such an interesting subject that people like your good self get bored of posting on your own teams and would like to share your balanced views and intellect with us

  • JG2704 on December 12, 2011, 18:03 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 - Funny , I was reading your comms the other day (from an archive thread)pre the summer tour of England and you were beating your chest about what India were going to do to England. When you lost the 1st test or 2 you were saying that everything would be good as Sehwag was returning and he would make all the difference. After that your posts seemed to fizzle out. Pakistan will indeed be a big test and they could win etc , but I certainly wouldn't put money on it on your backing.

  • dummy4fb on December 11, 2011, 20:51 GMT

    The much awaited contest would be Younus Khan vs Graeme Swann in test matches. Never before, maybe never again.

  • JG2704 on December 11, 2011, 19:42 GMT

    @Juiceoftheapple on (December 11 2011, 12:28 PM GMT) - I'm guessing re Buttler , that England performed so brilliantly in the ODI's that they don't need to look at anyone else. And it's not as if he's any use in the field or can keep wicket either is it?

  • Juiceoftheapple on December 11, 2011, 12:28 GMT

    I can't see Flower playing 5 bowlers, I think his 'not lose' first policy - which sees a 7 man batting line up will again come through, whilst we're not terrible against spin, we're also not the best, especially in favourable conditions, if thats the case. Then Flower 'might' flirt with 2 spinners, but if it doesn't come off revert back to 3 +1. With long days in the field I think fitness will play a great deal in which bowlers we pick, and I don't think he minds dropping / rotating bowlers if he feels its the right thing to do - I wont be surprised to see Finn. And to all the nonsense written below - Test Number 1 in the world, FACT. T20 Number 1 in the world. FACT. Rubbish at ODI's. yep - Hence why Buttler is with the performance squad in India (averaged 137 with 7 not outs in the CB40 last year going all the way to the final). I'm glad they called up Davies not Kieswetter, I think theres only so much you can learn from sitting on the bench.

  • SDHM on December 11, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    RandyOZ - probably not wise for an Australian to talk of batting line-ups folding like cards at the moment, is it?

  • SirViv1973 on December 11, 2011, 3:59 GMT

    @ArsalAAK how can you justify your comment 'Ajmal is way better than Swan' ? Swan has played more tests taken more wickets has a better average and a better strike rate. Most of Ajmal's tests have been played on the subcontinent in spin friendly conditions. Correct me if i'm wrong but Swan has only played 4 of his 36 games on the subcontinent. Most of his matches have been played in more seamer friendly conditions in Eng,SAF and Aus.

  • RandyOZ on December 11, 2011, 3:01 GMT

    I don't know why there are so many comments here, it is clear that England are going to fold like a pack of cards against Pakistan. Highly overrated players like Bell will be shown up for who they truly are (rubbish, as Warne showed) and it will be once again left to the South Africans and Irish to do all the work, while hacks like Cook are at Buckingham palace collecting OBEs. What a farce English cricket has become, no wonder they got a funding cut.

  • dummy4fb on December 10, 2011, 23:41 GMT

    @Honeymaster Agreed. Misbah is a curious case for me though. He tries to hold his fort, go all on defensive and wait for either the opposition to show a chink in their Armour or a match-winning performance from one of his players. He may be looking for a 1-0 victory somehow. Can Misbah tough it out. We will have to wait and see On the other hand England is getting too perfect for test cricket. But unlike Australia they don't have a natural flair to add to their method. I feel they are bound to become predictable and they won't be able to hold their dominance over test cricket for long. They are very good but one dimensional for my sake. How it pans out also depends on whether Pakistan is playing as a team or not. Pak has an advantage of being used to those pitches now. Can Ajmal run through a side? You never know. Can England drop four to five catches of Taufiq Umar to allow him a fifty. Maybe. Thanks God English press will not be there to hound.

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