England's selectors, who pride themselves on delicate use of the scalpel in amending teams, yesterday wielded a broadsword. They may not quite see it in such terms but their performance squad of elite players for the summer of 2010 showed that 11 players who made the 2009 version have been omitted.
True, retirement (Michael Vaughan), injury (Andrew Flintoff) and overweight (Samit Patel) might have accounted for a few, but last year's list hardly speaks of judgement that was overwhelming in its foresight. Of the 25 who were anointed then, 14 have been retained and will once more make up the bulk of the Test team. Of the total of 27 players, 11 are on central contracts and seven on incremental contracts, although these documents have yet to be signed seven months after being offered.
The most surprising retention is probably Owais Shah, who was dropped from the one-day side after the Champions Trophy last year and seemed for all the world to have no international future in a new regime which put such a heavy accent on fitness, athleticism and fielding ability.
There is only one uncapped player, Michael Lumb, an exclusion likely to be rectified during the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean next month. But there are other newcomers, including Lumb's fellow South African, the exciting Somerset wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter and the Middlesex fast bowler Steve Finn.
Geoff Miller, the national selector, said: "The selectors can name up to 30 players in the EPS, but we have decided to keep three places vacant at present in order to give ourselves greater flexibility. We will reserve the right to add further players to the squad if their performances in domestic cricket merit it."
While the selectors were juggling names, administrators spent the day juggling travel arrangements for the World Twenty20. England are due to leave for the Caribbean on Sunday and will play their first warm-up match next Wednesday. Uncertainty over flights has meant contingency plans are being considered. One of them could see the squad flying via Dubai. A final decision will be made in the next 48 hours.Reuse content