Robson included in performance squad
England appear to have won the battle over Sam Robson, the Middlesex batsman, by including him in the Performance Programme squad to tour Australia.
Robson, born in Sydney, qualified for England earlier this season having played for Middlesex since 2009. Australia responded by relaxing their own qualification regulations - dubbed the "Robson rule" - allowing dual-nationals to appear as a domestic-qualified player in more than one country.
The change prevented Robson from having to choose between Middlesex and New South Wales and making an immediate decision on his international future but England have struck a significant blow in including him among their back-up party. Robson is the second-highest runscorer in Division One of the County Championship this season with 1,180 runs at 47.20.
Also selected in the performance squad are several players who have regularly appeared for England Lions, among them Worcestershire's Moeen Ali, who has scored more runs than anyone in the County Championship this season, and Chris Jordan who appeared for England in the recently-concluded one-day series against Australia.
Two omissions from the performance squad are Nick Compton, who began the season opening the batting against New Zealand and James Taylor, the spare batsman for the Ashes. Neither will have a chance to impress in Australian conditions are now further away from the Test side than at the start of the season. But this party is not a reserve squad per se, unlike the group that shadowed the Test squad in 2010-11. England Lions are scheduled to tour Sri Lanka in January,
Along with Robson, Mark Wood, the 23-year-old Durham bowler, is the other player selected in an England squad for the first time. Wood is a highly thought-of right-arm seamer and took 27 wickets at 24.07 in helping Durham win the County Championship. He and Somerset's Jamie Overton won't travel to Australia but will remain at Loughborough for strength and conditioning work.
The entire squad will meet up in Loughborough for a preparation period before leaving for Australia on Novemeber 14. They will spend a month initially in Brisbane at the Cricket Australia high performance centre and then at the University of Western Australia in Perth. The tour includes two three-day matches in Brisbane and a final match in Perth.
England Performance Squad
Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Danny Briggs (Hampshire), Jos Buttler (Somerset), Varun Chopra (Warwickshire), Ben Foakes (Essex), James Harris (Middlesex), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Simon Kerrigan (Lancashire), Alex Lees (Yorkshire), Tymal Mills (Essex), Jamie Overton* (Somerset), Sam Robson (Middlesex), Reece Topley (Essex), James Vince (Hampshire), David Willey (Northamptonshire), Mark Wood* (Durham)
*To remain in the UK and specialise in strength and conditioning at the National Cricket Performance Centre
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo