There were no major surprises when David Graveney announced England's 15-man squad for the World Cup at The Oval. Michael Vaughan was confirmed as captain, although still has to prove his fitness before the team depart in early March, and Mal Loye missed out, his place going to Ravinder Bopara, the Essex allrounder, after one appearance during the CB Series.
There are injury concerns surrounding a number of players in the squad, most notably Vaughan who flew home early from Australia with a hamstring problem. But Graveney insisted that the England medical staff were confident that Vaughan will take his seat on the plane to the Caribbean.
"Michael Vaughan, James Anderson and Jon Lewis are all still recovering from injuries at present and have been named in the squad subject to a further re-assessment prior to our departure for the Caribbean," he said. "They will continue to undergo intensive treatment over the next fortnight and the medical staff will be giving the selectors regular updates on their progress. Kevin Pietersen, however, is now fully recovered from his rib injury and will be keen to make an impact in his first World Cup.
"This is a youthful squad with a number of highly promising players who made an excellent impression in Australia. The challenge facing the team now is to build on those performances down under and peak at the right time in the Caribbean."
Explaining the decision to drop Loye, Graveney said he'd done nothing wrong but his selection would have made the squad top-heavy and added Bopara gave them extra options. "Loye can consider himself unfortunate not to be included as he made an encouraging start to his international career. We have included Bopara because we believe he is a multi-dimensional cricketer whose all-round talents will help give the squad a better balance."
England are scheduled to leave for the Caribbean on March 2 and play their first warm-up match against Bermuda in St Vincent on March 5. Their first match in the tournament's group stage is against New Zealand at St Lucia on March 16th.
England squad Michael Vaughan (capt), Ed Joyce, Ian Bell, Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Nixon (wk), Ravinder Bopara, Jamie Dalrymple, Monty Panesar, Jon Lewis, James Anderson, Liam Plunkett, Sajid Mahmood