Chris Woakes, the Warwickshire allrounder, has been given a chance to press for a World Cup place, after being named as the only uncapped player in England's 17-man squad for next month's one-day and Twenty20 matches against Australia. Chris Tremlett also returns into the limited-overs set-up for the first time in two years, but there's no place for Ravi Bopara, who has been dropped from the squad that played against Pakistan in September, in favour of Ian Bell.
Geoff Miller, the national selector, announced the squad during the tea interval of England's three-day warm-up fixture against Victoria, and admitted that, while the team's current focus remains solely on retaining the Ashes, the proximity of the World Cup - which gets underway on February 19 - has forced them to name their strongest possible line-up, with the only first-choice omission being the injured Stuart Broad, who is expected to have recovered from a torn stomach muscle in time for the business end of the tournament.
"With Broad ruled out of the series we've needed to bolster our pace bowling stocks and Chris Woakes comes into the squad after knocking on the door for some time," said Miller. "Chris will be hungry for his international debut and vying for a place with a number of other quality pace bowlers. He's put in some good performances for Warwickshire, he's gone through the channels of the Lions and the Performance Programme, and has performed well this winter. He merits his selection, and the options are there to go in whichever direction we want to go."
When asked if there had been any temptation to rest key personnel ahead of the World Cup, Miller admitted that it was not an option, given that England have now won five consecutive series since the tour of South Africa last winter, and will want to go to the subcontinent in February with that winning streak extended. "You couldn't do that," he said. "You've still got to keep the momentum, the lads playing together and finding out their roles within the side.
"It's really difficult when you've got series after series, following each other so quickly," he added. "But that's always been the case, and it will maybe continue to be so. There are one or two players in the squad who are not involved in the Ashes, so they can actually focus on the World Cup now, but those who are involved here and then have to adapt later, it's really tough. That's been taken into consideration by the management, but at the moment, the priority is the Test series, then we'll move on to the one-dayers."
In keeping with the recent precedent, Andrew Strauss has been named as captain of the 50-overs squad, but will hand over the Twenty20 reins to Paul Collingwood, England's victorious captain at the World Twenty20 in May this year. Craig Kieswetter, who was England's Man of the Match in the final against Australia, has been retained for that format alone, with Steve Davies once again named ahead of the Test specialist Matt Prior as England's only wicketkeeper for the ODI series.
"Matt is not being overlooked," said Miller. "He's made it clear he still wants to play one-day cricket, and we will continue to monitor him, but he has been given the opportunity before, both up the order and in the middle order. He was left out and we brought someone else in, and we will continue in that vein of consistency. We'll find out how these two go over a period of time."
Bopara is also running out of chances to force his way into the World Cup reckoning, having made a favourable impression during an otherwise disastrous England campaign in the 2007 tournament. But with Kevin Pietersen back in form after being dropped from the Pakistan series, and Ian Bell fully recovered after the foot injury that interrupted his home summer, there was no room for him on this occasion, despite his undoubted potential as a match-winner.
"We had a long discussion about Ravi," said Miller. "He's still very much in our thoughts and we know what he's capable of doing, but at this moment in time he's out playing in South Africa and will continue to do that. We're quite confident that this squad can do a job for us here, and it may be able to do it in the World Cup as well, but it doesn't close the door to anyone else."
England ODI and T20 squads Andrew Strauss* (ODI capt), Paul Collingwood (T20 capt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Steve Davies (wk), Eoin Morgan, Craig Kieswetter** (wk), Kevin Pietersen, Ajmal Shahzad, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Chris Tremlett, Jonathan Trott, Chris Woakes, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy
* ODIs only, ** Twenty20s only