England demonstrated their ruthlessness on Sunday by dropping two fast bowlers from their Ashes squad. The fact that they are 2-0 up in the series and overwhelming favourites to inflict Australia’s seventh consecutive defeat when the third Test starts in Manchester on Thursday has left no room for sentiment or complacency.
Both Steve Finn, of Middlesex, who played in the opening match at Trent Bridge, and Graham Onions, of Durham, who has been in a party of 13 for both matches without making the starting XI, have been jettisoned. It shows that the selectors are prepared to take hard decisions despite victory.
They have chosen a squad of 14 for the match at Old Trafford. Chris Tremlett of Surrey comes back into the squad for the first time since he was forced to leave the tour of the UAE with a back injury 18 months ago.
It is unlikely that he will play, despite the probability of a faster surface, but it is clear evidence that he will be wanted in Australia this winter. Onions, who has not had a chance to do anything wrong except in the nets, can feel especially unfortunate.
James Taylor provides cover for Kevin Pietersen in the middle order. Pietersen remains optimistic that he will recover from a calf strain but England will not dare risk him breaking down in mid-match again.
The recall of Monty Panesar as a second specialist spinner reflects the dry nature of the surface after weeks of warm weather. It is slightly surprising since it has not been the easiest of summers for Panesar with Sussex. He has taken 21 Championship wickets at a cost of above 40 runs each.