England in South Africa 2009-10

Harmison and Bopara miss out

Cricinfo staff

October 8, 2009

Comments: 43 | Text size: A | A

Liam Plunkett played his part in Durham's title party, Durham v Nottinghamshire, County Championship, 3rd day, Chester-le-Street, September 11, 2009
Comeback kid: Liam Plunkett has been recalled to the Test side after a two-and-a-half year absence © PA Photos
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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.


Luke Wright cuts hard through the off side, Australia v England, 1st semi-final, Champions Trophy, Centurion Park, October 2, 2009
Luke Wright has been rewarded with a surprise place in the Tests squad © Associated Press
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"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

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by nicolai on (October 9, 2009, 14:13 GMT)

Everyone is second guessing the selectors. Give them a break! Bottom line is that the current pool of players to pick from has few exceptional players. This is the best team the selectors came up with, given the limitations. No matter what team they pick, we will find reasons why that team is not good enough simply because there are no other "Kevin Pietersons" out there, which could have selection easiler. England was very lucky to make to make it to the semis of the Champions. We all know that South Africa, Sri Lanka and India, all teams that missed out, have loads more talent and that is why selectors for those teams will have a much easier time.

Posted by niazmn on (October 9, 2009, 13:21 GMT)

Well,i still don,t know and i am not clear,what is the role of Bopara in the team.I mean if you exclue those two test hunderds from his international career,nothing is left.Shocked with the ommission of Shah,i think he desrves the place.Rashid is always good to be in competition with Swann.So finally its a good selection with Wright there.

Posted by leewykes on (October 9, 2009, 12:19 GMT)

Agree with a lot that has been said. Harmisson has been a good player but his time is up. Why do we keep trying to find a new Adam Gilchrist!!! The squad rasies 1 obvious point - Plunkett is chosen because of his good season with Durham, no problem with that but then a player with 1200 runs at over 75 for his county in Division 1 is overlooked - what the hell does Chris Read need to do to get his place back!!!! He is the best Gloveman in the country, has raised the level of his batting in First Class Cricket and handles Notts' varied attack both as 'keeper and captain very well. To win Test matches you need 6 batsmen, 4 bowlers (why insist on 5?) and a specialist 'keeper. Not sure about dropping Bopara and Shah, surely 1 of them should have been selected if only as cover. Good to see Rashid selected, definately added opposition for Swann. Just think the selectors thinking is a bit strange, but nothing new there! Just how much are performances in the County Championship worth?

Posted by Patrick_Clarke on (October 9, 2009, 11:45 GMT)

Michael Carberry is a far better batsman and fielder than Alistair Cook.

Posted by libarr on (October 9, 2009, 11:26 GMT)

It may be premature to include Cook in the OD squad but who else has his potential? It is a travesty that James Foster has been left out YET AGAIN - he is by far the best wicket keeper in England and can bat down the order as well! Now that Essex are back into division one of the County Championship, will James Foster and Graham Napier be treated more seriously for England?

Posted by magic_torch_jamie on (October 9, 2009, 11:22 GMT)

You can only pick the best players you have at the time and the ones you have need to be complementary and able to work together as people. I'm impressed with this selection and think they've got it right. Harmison must go and it's become clear the important thing with keepers is they can contribute at the highest level with the bat. Prior's become the all-rounder at 6 and the only other viable player at 6 is Davies, whose mettle needs trying out. Wright's a risk but could easily be one of those players who contributes quite a bit here and there. A partnership breaker and surprisingly good with the bat. This England set-up are on the right track again...

Posted by chandau on (October 9, 2009, 7:46 GMT)

Rob Key is Test class; so is James Foster. Somehow England don't seem to know why the team is never considered good despite some adhoc victories. They keep selecting some club cricketers who fade away after a season or 2. Luke = Freddie oh gimme a break !!! Napier more likely. Cook in ODIs? Steyin must be salivating :) I saw some good Under 19 guys, should have brought in at least one like the Asians do. What happened to Dimitri? Is he good only for T20? Swann is the best spinner England has? He wont play club cricket in the sub continent!!! Morgan's luck continues, but how long before the edges go to the slips or stumps?? The case of Collingwood was nicely described recently in a piece on Champions league. (Delhi is an improved side without him!!) cheers chandan sri lanka

Posted by CaptainBluebeard on (October 9, 2009, 7:29 GMT)

The two people I feel most sorry for over the last 6/7 years are James Foster and Chris Read, who are probably the best two wicket keepers in the country, and who can both bat, and yet are constantly overlooked by the selectors .. even as the understudy keeper!

The batting selection is probably the best that we have to offer at present, though I would have liked to see Eoin Morgan get a chance in the test squad, instead of Luke Wright. Wright is not a test all rounder, and never will be.

The bowling does worry me a little. The return of Mahmood and Plunkett to the squads seems pointless, as they were failures the first time round, and I can't see how their county records since then advance their respective cases. I'd have taken Harmison ahead of Plunkett.

I don't see why people are anti-Sidebottom - he has a test bowling average of 27.70 (only Onions is better than that) and an economy rate of 2.76 (the best of the available candidates for our bowling attack).

Posted by 7477 on (October 9, 2009, 4:17 GMT)

Dilshan - well it looks a well balanced Test Squad but Luke Wright still has got a lot to prove on ODI cricket before makng his way to the Test Squad. Bresnan would have been a much better choice given his recent prowess with the bat. Plunketts inclusion is very heartening but they also should have sticked with Harminson n Flintoff's absence as even the South Africans are vary against the short rising ball. the inclusion of Sajid Mahmood in the ODI's are not justifiable as he's leaked a lot of runs in the county arena. there are much better bowlers who could control & take wickets. i would have persisted shah for this series too simple b'coz of the fact he was one of the batsman to succeed in the SA pitches just a couple of weeks ago. all in all the 02 squads are pretty much ok but could have benn better.

Posted by Gazzafoot on (October 9, 2009, 3:14 GMT)

looking like a long, weary winter!!! not a sign of consistency in the Ashes, and a similar squad here, may win one Test if more than one fires, but this bunch does not have the same quality that was built up under Vaughan. The gap between County and International cricket seems to be getting larger, or at least the consistency to perform on the big stage for (hopefully) 5 days. Maybe the ECB need to look more closely at the Sheffield Shield format and have fewer, but higher quality games. Only Durham came close to a consistant summer (in the County Championship) and the rest of the teams were a very ordinary bunch. Wright consistant?? Didn't Sussex get relegated?? Trott played on a batsman friendly home ground, not a lot of depth here at all.

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