Matt Prior a shock inclusion in England World Cup squad

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The Independent Online

England have made the shock decision to select Matt Prior as their wicketkeeper for the World Cup in place of Steve Davies.

England named their 15-man squad for next month's tournament today with Prior's recall, after 10 months out of the team, the only major surprise.



"It was a tough decision," England team director Andy Flower said. "Steve Davies was picked in our last one-day series, he did okay against Pakistan.



"We picked him for this series in Australia because of the conditions out here, but as we get closer to the World Cup we've made that adjustment and we want Prior to get a few games under his belt before we get out there."



Davies had been trusted with the gloves for England's past six one-day internationals and made 42 from 35 balls, albeit after being handed four lives, in the opening match of the current series against Australia in Melbourne on Sunday.



Prior, who has remained in Australia after the Ashes to play in the domestic Twenty20 competition for Victoria, is set to join the squad today in time to take his place for Friday's match in Hobart.



The 28-year-old is set to partner skipper Andrew Strauss at the top of the order, where he had struggled before losing his place in the team following the tour of Bangladesh last March.



Prior averages just 25.38 in 50-over cricket but Flower believes the 28-year-old, who enjoyed a good Ashes series with the bat and gloves, will thrive at the World Cup.



"We believe that Matt Prior is best suited to the sub-continent conditions and that's why we've picked him," Flower said.



"The circumstances have changed. Matt Prior did very well out here in the Test matches.



"He is a combative, aggressive cricketer. He fits our aggressive fielding unit so those are the reasons why he has been picked for the World Cup."



Flower admitted Davies, who will remain in Australia for the rest of the current seven-game series as a back-up to Prior, had been left deflated.



"Of course he is disappointed. Any player would be very disappointed to be left out of the England side," he added.



"It means a lot. They are very difficult decisions to make because they effect people's careers.



"But those are the harsh realities of playing professional sport. Steve and the others who have been left out will have to accept it."



Ashes winner Chris Tremlett was the only other member of the current touring squad to be overlooked, meaning England will take a four-man seam attack into the tournament.



James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who will join the squad in Australia on Friday, head that list alongside Yorkshire duo Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad.

Three specialist spinners will also fly with the squad with Graeme Swann and Michael Yardy the first choice duo ahead of James Tredwell.



England have won their past six one-day series and will go into the tournament as one of the favourites following their significant recent improvement in the shorter format.



Flower's side are also the World Twenty20 champions and will look to add the 50-over title to their list of recent honours.



"It's going to be very tough to win the World Cup of course, all nations will be desperate to do so," Flower said.



"I think our one-day cricket has improved significantly over the past couple of years and I believe we can do well over there."



England's 15-man ICC World Cup squad: Andrew Strauss (capt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior (wkt), Ajmal Shahzad, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy.



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