Root to open as England name Test squad
England have confirmed the ascent of Joe Root to opener for the Ashes by naming a 13-man squad devoid of surprises for the first Investec Test at Trent Bridge, beginning on Wednesday. The return of Kevin Pietersen, who missed England's last three Tests against New Zealand with a knee injury, means Nick Compton drops out, while Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann have both been passed fit.
The announcement means there is no late reprieve for Compton, who scored back-to-back Test centuries in New Zealand in March but struggled in the return series. He was left out of England's warm-up match against Essex, with Root moved up to partner Alastair Cook and Jonny Bairstow retaining his place in the middle-order, and despite making runs in two successive tour matches against Australia he has lost his place after nine Tests and 479 runs at an average of 31.93.
Root made 41 and 26 at the top of the order against Essex, while Bairstow was not at his most fluent in scoring a brace of twenties. England, however, had signposted their thinking with the announcement of the squad to play Essex, when the national selector, Geoff Miller, described Root as "currently the best opening partner for Alastair Cook". The young Yorkshire pair are the only members of the squad yet to play in an Ashes Test.
Compton made just 39 in four innings against New Zealand in May and Andy Flower, the England team director, said after the Headingley Test that Compton had to get back to scoring runs for his county. He made a century and two fifties in first-class cricket for Somerset, as well as 79 playing for Worcestershire against the Australians, and the decision to drop him against Essex prompted Compton to claim he had not been given "a fair crack of the whip" by England.
Pietersen is back after several months out with bruising to his right knee bone, having only played one first-class innings since March - although that was a knock of 177 not out for Surrey two weeks ago. Tim Bresnan is involved with the Test side for the first time since elbow surgery over the winter and will likely vie with Steven Finn and Graham Onions for the third seamer's spot.
Onions' inclusion could also be precautionary, after Broad missed the game against Essex and required a cortisone injection in a shoulder injury sustained during the Champions Trophy final - although he declared his confidence that he would be "100 percent right" on Thursday. Swann, too, was briefly the subject of anxiety after being struck on the forearm by Essex's Tymal Mills but fears of a broken bone were quickly dispelled.
"This is an incredibly exciting period of cricket coming up against Australia and we know we will need to play to our full potential throughout the entire Investec Ashes series if we are to retain the Ashes," Miller said. "We are satisfied with our preparations so far ahead of the first Test with both Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad recovering well from the injuries they picked up earlier this week. The squad will continue their hard work over the next few days and will be eagerly anticipating the start of the series on Wednesday at Trent Bridge."
England squad: Alastair Cook (capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Graham Onions, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Joe Root, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here