Tremlett and Panesar earn Ashes calls
Chris Tremlett and Monty Panesar have been recalled to the England squad for the Ashes tour, but Ajmal Shahzad misses out on the main 16-man party and will instead travel with the performance team. The positions of final pacemen and second spinner were the only ones up for grabs among a settled unit, with Tremlett's height and Panesar's previous Test experience being the deciding factors.
It had been expected that Shahzad had done enough in his few appearances this season, particularly with his use of reverse swing, to make the final cut but the selectors have opted to send him with the second string, while Tim Bresnan goes in the main group to provide allrounder cover. However, Shahzad will fly out with the full party on October 29 for the warm-up period before moving to the performance side ahead of the Brisbane Test. The rest of the squad provoked very little debate with Steve Davies being rewarded for his successful one-day form with the back-up keeper role.
However, the two players to gain most from the announcement are Tremlett and Panesar after periods in the international wilderness. Tremlett last appeared in 2008 - but hasn't played a Test since his successful debut series against India in 2007 - while Panesar has been ignored since his famous rearguard with the bat alongside James Anderson against Australia, at Cardiff, last year.
Tremlett enjoyed a resurgent season with Surrey having joined from Hampshire, taking 48 Championship scalps at 20.18. Six weeks ago he was in prime form and although he tailed off towards the end of the summer he earned strong reviews. Tremlett has always had the attributes to be a Test-match fast bowler, but has had to battle against a perception that his character is suspect under pressure. Although he will start outside the first XI, any injuries to the pace attack will give him the chance to prove his detractors wrong.
Panesar, meanwhile, moved from Northamptonshire to Sussex for the 2010 season in an attempt to revive his England career and he enjoyed a successful summer with 52 Championshop wickets at 25.53. The other contenders as back-up for Graeme Swann were James Tredwell, the Kent offspinner who made his Test debut against Bangladesh in Dhaka earlier this year, and Adil Rashid who had an impressive all-round season with Yorkshire which brought 732 runs at 45.75 alongside 57 wickets at 31.29.
But, in one of the most surprising selections, Rashid has not only missed the main squad but also the performance side that will be based in Brisbane and Perth alongside the Ashes party. Tredwell, and the 19-year-old Hampshire left-arm spinner Danny Briggs, are the two slow bowlers acting as support to Swann and Panesar.
"We believe we've selected an outstanding Test squad for what will be a fiercely contested Ashes series in Australia," Geoff Miller, the national selector, said. "In order to retain the Ashes we will need to play to a very high level and we believe we've selected a squad to do just that.
"Clearly there are always difficult decisions to make when selecting an England squad and this Ashes squad was no different. We feel that Chris Tremlett's inclusion will add a real threat of pace and bounce to our bowling attack given the conditions in Australia. Chris will be vying for a place in the final team amongst a confident attack including James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Steven Finn.
"We feel that following an excellent season with Sussex Monty Panesar deserves his opportunity to assume the role as England's second spinner behind Graeme Swann. Monty has gone away and worked on his bowling since his last England appearance and he continues to be an attacking threat with the ball in his hand."
The performance squad includes those who have been around England squads in recent times - Tredwell, Michael Carberry, and Liam Plunkett - along with some of the strongest performers from the domestic season including Jimmy Adams, the Hampshire opener, James Taylor from Leicestershire, Yorkshire's Adam Lyth and Warwickshire's allrounder Chris Woakes. There is also a place for Ben Stokes, the Durham allrounder, who was born in New Zealand but Ravi Bopara doesn't make it and will instead play first-class cricket in South Africa.
The performance side will be based in Brisbane from November 13 where it will play a four-day match against a Queensland XI (November 25-28) before relocating to Perth on November 29 to play a Western Australia XI (December 7-10) and they will remain in Perth for the lead up to the third Ashes Test before returning to the UK on December 16.
David Parsons, the ECB performance director, said: "The England Performance Programme provides an excellent opportunity for those players identified as having considerable talent to train together in an England environment throughout the winter and further develop as cricketers.
"The time spent at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough and Australia allows our national lead coaches to work intensively with the players and assess their readiness to graduate to the full England side when the opportunity arises. It has been very pleasing to see the likes of Jonathan Trott, Eoin Morgan, Steven Finn and Steve Davies who have all spent time on the programme in recent years, go on to play important roles for England."
Ashes squad Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior, Steve Davies, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett, Monty Panesar
Performance squad Jimmy Adams, Jonny Bairstow, Danny Briggs, Michael Carberry, Maurice Chambers, Jade Dernbach, Andrew Gale, James Hildreth, Craig Kieswetter, Adam Lyth, Liam Plunkett, Ajmal Shahzad, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes
Central contracts Andrew Strauss, James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Steven Finn, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott
Incremental contracts Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Eoin Morgan, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo