England's World Twenty20 squad: Need for change leads to selection of uncapped pair


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The Independent Online

England have revealed their intention to try to win the World Twenty20 with a squad containing two uncapped players. Such a revolutionary course might have been expected after a week in which they had already sacked their biggest star.

The debutants are Moeen Ali, the 26-year-old Worcestershire all-rounder who has been in their thoughts for years, and Stephen Parry, the 28-year-old Lancashire left-arm spinner, who has been in them for about five minutes. Both owe their selection to the fact that the tournament is taking place in Bangladesh, and both can expect to feature at some point.

The squad will prepare for it with a visit to the West Indies, where they will play three one-day internationals in Antigua followed by three T20s in Barbados.

Harry Gurney, the uncapped Nottinghamshire left-arm seamer, is in the party for the Caribbean and will presumably be called upon for Bangladesh should any of the fast bowlers be injured.

It is not a squad which conveys the impression that it can lead England to World Twenty20 glory for the second time. There are five survivors from the side that won the title in style in 2010, including the captain and vice-captain, Stuart Broad and Eoin Morgan.

Kevin Pietersen is not among them, although England also tried to defend their title, unsuccessfully, without him in Sri Lanka two years ago. As then, although no contract has yet been announced, there must be every likelihood that he will appear at the tournament as a television pundit, haunting England as he will surely do following his sacking three days ago.

Although there is an obvious risk in picking two players untried in the international arena, England must have felt they had to do something after their dreadful showing in Australia when they were heavily defeated in all three T20 internationals.

Ali, who has a distinctive beard, is an elegant batsman and off-spin bowler who gives the ball a considerable rip. He scored 1,420 first-class runs last summer for Worcestershire but more pertinently was also effective in the domestic T20 competition, scoring at a dashing 9.31 runs an over and conceding them at a respectable 7.05.

Parry barely features in Lancashire's Championship side but has become an effective limited-overs operator. He takes the place of Danny Briggs, who can consider himself to be harshly treated after being given little oppprtunity recently in Australia.

Parry has played only five Championship matches but his limited-overs economy rate has persuaded the selectors that he is worth a huge gamble now. The new national selector, James Whitaker, who has largely trawled northern grounds from his Yorkshire base, may have been influential in his selection.

Gurney spent a month on the Ashes tour giving the England batsmen a chance to become used to the left-arm trajectory they faced from Mitchell Johnson. It was not an entirely successful experiment but left-arm pace and swing are something England crave and these assets can be extremely effective in short-form cricket.

The most fortunate player in the squad is perhaps Jade Dernbach, the Surrey fast bowler. Never convincing at any point in Australia – or in much of his international career – his last over in the third Twenty20 in Sydney went for 26. The selectors have possibly convinced themselves that Dernbach's variations and slower balls will be more effective on slower sub-continental pitches.

Other observers have concluded that he is a multi-trick pony whom the world's batsmen long ago worked out and who will again struggle unless he can conjure a decent stock ball as well as the fancy stuff.

There is plenty of experience in the batting order, though it may be time that Morgan moved up it. Leaving it to the rest during the early overs is folly when he is so capable and there are others, such as Jos Buttler, with the firepower to take advantage of the late blast.

Limited resources: ngland squads

For tour of West Indies

25 February-13 March

Stuart Broad (capt), Eoin Morgan (vice-capt), Moeen Ali, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Michael Lumb, Stephen Parry, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Luke Wright

For World Twenty20

Bangladesh, 16 March-6 April

Broad (capt), Morgan (vice-capt), Ali, Bopara, Bresnan, Buttler, Dernbach, Hales, Jordan, Lumb, Parry, Root, Stokes, Tredwell, Wright