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October 8, 2009
Steve Harmison's international career appears over after he was omitted from England's Test squad for the tour of South Africa. His Durham team-mate Liam Plunkett was preferred after an impressive domestic season and is recalled to the international set-up for the first time since 2007. Kevin Pietersen has been included in both the Test and one-day squads although he will miss the two Twenty20 internationals as he continues to recover from his Achilles surgery.
Geoff Miller, the national selector, explained that Harmison, who said he was keen to tour South Africa but not as a bit-part player, hadn't produced enough performances in recent times to justify selection. "Stephen has not been included in the Test squad because we feel his form has not been consistent enough over the past 12 months to justify a regular place in the side and we want to give an opportunity to other players to make a case for selection."
The selectors have made a few surprise calls to fill the vacant positions in both parties with Luke Wright included in the Test squad instead of a frontline batsman, while Alastair Cook and Sajid Mahmood are recalled to the one-day side. Wright averaged 47.90 with the bat in eight Championship matches and took 21 wickets at 33.80 to nudge the selectors, while Cook struck back-to-back Pro40 hundreds for Essex after the Ashes.
As expected Jonathan Trott comes into the limited-overs squad as a replacement for Ravi Bopara, who missed out altogether after a poor Ashes series and disappointing performances in the recent ODIs. Steven Davies has been chosen as the reserve wicketkeeper for the Test leg of the tour following his last-minute call-up for the Champions Trophy and Adil Rashid is back-up to Graeme Swann with Monty Panesar omitted. Joe Denly, who had been tipped for a Test call-up, has to make do with a place in the one-day squad only.
"We are delighted to welcome Steven Davies and Luke Wright into the Test squad for the first time," Miller said. "Steven is a player of great potential who has been a consistent performer for his county and he will act as understudy to Matt Prior in South Africa.
"The retirement of Andrew Flintoff has created a vacancy for an all-rounder in the squad and while we do not see Luke Wright as a like for like replacement for Andrew, we are excited by the way in which his all-round game continues to develop and believe he can make an impact at Test level.
"Jonathan Trott who has made an immediate impact in our Test side and has also shown through his performances at domestic level that he has the talent and temperament to succeed in the shorter forms of the game."
"Liam Plunkett has worked hard to improve all aspects of his game since he last played for England and his selection is reward for consistently putting in strong performances for Durham both with bat and ball. He will provide strong competition for a place in our pace attack this winter."
Plunkett took 60 wickets at 23.35 and scored 400 runs at 44.44 as Durham retained their Championship title and now has the chance to add to his nine Test caps, the last of which came against West Indies, at Old Trafford, in 2007. Like Plunkett, Mahmood was first selected by Duncan Fletcher but faded from the scene after the 2007 World Cup. Miller, though, feels he is ready for a return as the selectors try to find an additional cutting edge to the one-day attack.
"Mahmood is another player who has had a taste of international cricket before and will be equally keen to make an impression in the one-day arena after continuing to show good form with Lancashire," he said. "Alastair Cook has shown great determination to improve his one-day game this summer, made runs at domestic level in both 50-over and Twenty20 cricket and the selectors believe now is the right time to re-introduce him to our one-day side."
Owais Shah has been dropped despite his 89-ball 98 against South Africa at the Champions Trophy, while Bopara's omission was expected after he was left out for the final Ashes Test and also lost his one-day slot before Matt Prior's illness in South Africa last week.
"Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah will, of course, be disappointed not to be included in either squad but they are both high class players and will remain in the selectors' thoughts as we go forward," Miller said.
Paul Collingwood has been confirmed as the Twenty20 captain for the two matches that begin the tour in November. They will be followed by five ODIs before the four-Test series starts at Centurion Park on December 16.
Test squad Andrew Strauss (capt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Paul Collingwood, Steven Davies, Graham Onions, Kevin Pietersen, Liam Plunkett, Matt Prior, Adil Rashid, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright
One-day squad Andrew Strauss (capt), James Anderson, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Joe Denly, Sajid Mahmood, Eoin Morgan, Graham Onions, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Adil Rashid, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala