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England's latest cunning plan

England's 17th and 18th squad members were paraded this afternoon and in the Australian sections of the room the new figures were so anonymous there were thoughts of asking the ready-to-act security guards to uncover their identity. A deep knowledge of county scorecards will never form part of a Down Under citizenship test, but in the locals' defence Mal Loye and Ravi Bopara would not be feted on an open-top bus tour through Manchester or Chelmsford.

The size of England's entourage has bulged again following injuries to Kevin Pietersen (cracked rib) and Michael Vaughan (hamstring), so the two men who arrived in ECB gear might well have been the overworked medical staff. But there was no vertical file of explanations or the repetitive use of "scan", "MRI" or "replacement".

Loye, an opening batsman for Lancashire, landed in Brisbane on Wednesday night from New Zealand, where he scored 51 runs in two State Championship matches for Auckland as their overseas pro. Bopara, the Essex allrounder, joined the squad after being part of England's back-up brigade in Perth. Both men are uncapped, but the claims of Loye for a debut at the Gabba on Friday are stronger after Vaughan's problem flared in Hobart.

Aged 34 and the owner of 214 first-class appearances, Loye has shown that like Leo Sayer it is possible to reinvent yourself for a fresh generation. He felt he was good enough to play for England five and ten years ago, but only since his move from Northamptonshire to Lancashire has he become a seriously attractive proposition.

Starting as a dour, straight-bat accumulator more suited to Tests, Loye has flourished since the introduction of Twenty20 into a free spirited opener whose most eye-catching manoeuvre is dropping down to slog-sweep the new-ball bowlers. Brett Lee returns from a chest complaint at the Gabba and if he receives that sort of treatment he may use his recently cleared lungs to call for a dentist to be added to the visitors' support staff. Unless they have one already.

Loye does not know whether he will need to tone down his inventive approach with the rise in standard. "I can only take it when I'm out there," he said. "My plan has just been to be as positive as I can through the first 15 overs at home and bat through an innings. Ultimately I'll look to do that if I get an opportunity. My game plan may differ with certain bowlers but I can only do that when I'm out there."

Text messages during the week prepared Loye for the official announcement of his inclusion and he is on the verge of justifying a decision not to represent Ireland, which would have earned him a World Cup passage. He has Irish parents but remained true to his English roots after growing through the system from under-19 to "A" level. Named in the 30-man preliminary squad for the Caribbean, he is a couple of encouraging performances away from gaining an orthodox journey to the World Cup.

The scenario is similar for Bopara, a 21-year-old top-order batsman and medium pacer. He spent six weeks with the Academy squad working on his bowling and picking up tips from Vaughan. "I do like to experiment," Bopara said. "At my pace you've got to have a few things up your sleeve. Just like Paul Collingwood, who is very smart and very clever." England have been forced into trying new things as well and are faced with more untested hypotheses just two months before the main event.