Ballance, Panesar and Rankin make England Ashes squad
Three new caps in squad for winter tour of Australia, and none of them are English
ENGLAND'S cricket squad to defend the Ashes in Australia this winter was announced today - with the inclusion of uncapped Zimbabwe-born batsman Gary Ballance (above) and troubled spinner Monty Panesar the main talking points.
The 17-man squad features three players without Test caps, all of whom were born overseas - Ballance, former Ireland bowler Boyd Rankin and New Zealand-born all-rounder Ben Stokes.
Another inexperienced member of the squad is Michael Carberry, whose only England appearance came three-and-a-half years ago.
Only nine of the team who played in the final Ashes Test of the summer are included, with Simon Kerrigan and Chris Woakes left out. Jonny Bairstow and Steven Finn, who were both dropped from the team last summer, are back in the fold, but Tim Bresnan, who is recovering from back surgery is omitted. He will be drafted in if fit, although his chances of making a contribution to the tour looks slim.
Alastair Cook (Essex, capt), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Michael Carberry (Hampshire), Kevin Pietersen (Surrey), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)
Carberry is included ahead of Nick Compton as a back-up opener. "England's top order struggled against Australia this summer," says Cricinfo. "Carberry offers the flexibility for Joe Root to slip back into the middle order if he struggles to make the opening job his own."
But it is Ballance who has grabbed the headlines, being selected ahead of rivals including Ravi Bopara, James Taylor and Eoin Morgan. The Guardian reports: "Ballance, a 23-year-old left-hander who made his one-day international debut in Ireland this month, has leap-frogged several other middle-order contenders and now shapes as the main rival to his Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow for England's problem No 6 position."
Matt Prior (Sussex, vice-captain), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire)
Jonny Bairstow is included in the squad as back-up wicket-keeper despite calls from Michael Vaughan in the Daily Telegraph for him to be dropped altogether. Despite that, Cricinfo says the Yorkshireman was the "obvious choice" for the role, with Joss Buttler and Steve Davies not ready for Tests.
Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Ben Stokes (Durham)
Ben Stokes has yet to play a Test, while his main rival for the all-rounder role, Chris Woakes played at the Oval. Woakes was something of a let-down in that match, while Stokes's "talent and competitive edge" earned him the nod says Cricinfo. The New Zealand-born 22-year-old has also proved his maturity after being sent home from an England Lions tour for late-night drinking last year.
James Anderson (Lancashire), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Monty Panesar (Essex), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire), Chris Tremlett (Surrey)
Monty Panesar is recalled to the England squad after a turbulent summer in which he was fined by police for urinating on bouncers outside a Brighton nightclub and was jettisoned by his county, Sussex. However, his selection could have more to do with the grim form of his rivals, Simon Kerrigan and James Tredwell. "Panesar won by default as other contenders fell by the wayside," says Cricinfo.
The third uncapped member of the squad is 6ft 7in fast bowler Boyd Rankin, who switched allegiance from Ireland last year. "Rankin, Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn and Stuart Broad will make up one of the tallest attacks ever sent overseas by England," says the Telegraph. "Their selection follows Tremlett's success in Australia two years ago and the belief Michael Clarke’s team struggle against bowlers of that ilk." ·