England ready to name Pietersen in tour party

Kevin Pietersen is expected to be named today in the one-day and Test squads for England's tour to South Africa, which begins next month.

Pietersen is nearing full fitness following an operation on his Achilles in July. "Things are pretty encouraging," said England captain Andrew Strauss yesterday. "His injury has lingered on much longer than we would have liked but the noises I'm hearing are that he should play a very full part in the Test series and hopefully be available for some of the one-dayers as well."

Strauss and Andy Flower, England's coach, met with Geoff Miller, the national selector, yesterday to finalise the line-ups, with Pietersen's condition and the inclusion or not of Ravi Bopara and Steve Harmison the pressing issues.

Pietersen is unlikely to be fit for the start of the one-day series – in Johannesburg on 20 November – but the England management seem certain to include him in both parties regardless. South African-born Jonathan Trott is the probable beneficiary of Bopara's struggles while Joe Denly may have edged his way into the Test squad as batting back-up.

Strauss yesterday gave a guarded response to questions over Harmison's future, but with Andrew Flintoff retired, there are few alternatives to the Durham fast bowler, although his county team-mate Liam Plunkett enjoyed a profitable domestic season.

England will meet India and South Africa in the first round of the 2011 World Cup. The ICC have agreed a new two-group format for the competition, to be staged in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, following criticism of the meandering event in the Caribbean two years ago. West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and the Netherlands make up England's group. The other contains Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya.

Six million dollar men A guide to the Champions League

Cricket's latest attempt to milk the Twenty20 cash-cow – the Champions League – gets underway in India today as Bangalore play Cape Cobras...

Q. Who's in it?

A. The Champions League brings together the 12 best teams from domestic competitions around the world, including our very own Sussex and Somerset, as well three of the IPL's mighty franchises and a couple of Aussie outfits among others

Q. Anyone worth watching?

A. Andrew Symonds, providing he's off the tinnies, makes a return to the big stage, as does Marcus Trescothick, making a rare trip abroad. Adam Gilchrist is still going strong for Deccan Chargers, but Paul Collingwood's buttock strain has ruled him out

Q. Does anyone care about yet another Twenty20 tournament?

A. You may not, but the players certainly do as they become six million dollar men. That's the prize money kitty that will be shared out with $2.5m going to the winners

Q. So where can I watch it?

A. British Eurosport are making a rare detour from winter sports and will show all matches live

Q. Who's going to win it?

A. It's hard to look past the IPL sides for the 23 October final but the New South Wales Blues are decent outsiders

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