England call-up on the cards for aspiring Taylor

 

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England will announce their squad for the third Test today. It may depart sensationally from recent history in containing a new name.

The team have gone a record 14 matches without fielding a debutant since Ajmal Shahzad made his only Test appearance so far at Old Trafford against Bangladesh last June. However, the injury to Jonathan Trott's shoulder could and should mean a call for James Taylor, the 21-year-old Leicestershire batsman.

Inclusion in the squad is still some distance away from taking the field, particularly as Trott's shoulder has improved daily since he fell heavily on it while fielding during the second Test against India in Nottingham. But it would demonstrate that England have an idea where they are heading and they would not dare risk Trott barely less than fully fit.

Taylor's selection would be hard on Ravi Bopara, who still has plenty of admirers and scored a craftsman's century for Essex on a contrary Southend pitch last week, following which their opponents, Leicestershire were bowled out for 34. But Bopara has failed twice in matches for England Lions this season while Taylor has twice succeeded.

Geoff Miller, the chairman of selectors, has always set much store by Lions performances. "Not necessarily for now, but down the line because this is when we want them to do it," he said. Taylor followed his first innings 76 with a watchful 98 yesterday against Sri Lanka A in Scarborough.

If that is not good enough, he would be entitled to ask what is, though the extra two runs in the second innings might have turned more heads. Bopara's scores in the match have been 19 and 25.

It is unlikely the selectors will consider Michael Carberry despite his 300 not out for Hampshire yesterday. Carberry made his one England appearance in Bangladesh early last year but has been out for much of this season after a debilitating illness.

There will be one other selection conundrum, though that is likely to be determined on the eve of the match. The coach, Andy Flower, and the captain, Andrew Strauss, are responsible for choosing the final XI after the selectors have handed them the squad.

Their choice will be between Chris Tremlett, who was forced to miss the match at Trent Bridge with a minor hamstring injury, and Tim Bresnan, who took his place and was one of the heroes of the victory with seven wickets and an innings of 90. England can never have had such an embarrassment of riches among fast bowlers, though many who watched them in the 1950s as prodigious county toilers kept being overlooked might disagree. The state of the pitch will be the determining factor but Tremlett would appear to have the edge.

The other injury worry appears to have been cleared up with Graeme Swann announcing that his left hand on which he was hit while batting in Nottingham, will not inhibit him. What Swann could do with is some wickets and a pitch which helps to take some.

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