Monty Panesar earns England recall

 

Monty Panesar's return to the England fold was confirmed this morning, after he was selected as the second spinner for the Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

Panesar, who joins reserve wicketkeeper Steve Davies in an otherwise predictable squad of 16 under captain Andrew Strauss, has been out of favour since the last of his 39 Test caps to date at the start of the 2009 Ashes series.

England were also able to name a number of regulars who are fit to travel next month after injury, and in some cases surgery.

Batsman Eoin Morgan has been unavailable since the first match of England's one-day international series at home to India in September, because of a SLAP lesion shoulder injury which required an operation.

Fast bowler Stuart Broad also hurt his shoulder in that same series, and missed the return - a 5-0 hammering for England - in India.

Broad's fellow seamer Chris Tremlett has been absent longer, having injured his back before last summer's Trent Bridge Test against India - while pace bowler Tim Bresnan has missed no cricket and has recovered quickly after a recent operation on his elbow.

Steven Finn, the sole success story of England's hapless autumn tour, is also in the reckoning as a pace option.

But the most eye-catching element of a squad otherwise notable for the inclusion of Ravi Bopara as a back-up specialist batsman, despite his mediocre trip to India, is the presence of Panesar.

National selector Geoff Miller said: "Monty Panesar, who has been playing cricket in Sydney recently, has been selected as the second spin option along with Graeme Swann.

"Monty's selection comes off the back of a strong domestic season with Sussex and with the potentially spin-friendly conditions of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in mind."

Panesar, who as a left-arm orthodox turns the ball in the opposite direction to off-spinner Swann, will be no mere stand-by in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. He could well be in contention to operate in tandem with Swann if pitches in the Middle East are as England anticipate.

England's bid to consolidate their newly-earned International Cricket Council Test number one status faces a stern examination in five series next year, including at home to their most likely challengers South Africa - and their assignment away to Pakistan is a tough opener.

Miller said: "This is an important series, given it is our first Test series since hosting India in August this year, and we expect a stern challenge against a Pakistan side that will be accustomed to playing in the UAE.

"We believe we've selected a very strong squad with a number of key players looking to return from injury - including the likes of Stuart Broad, Eoin Morgan and Chris Tremlett.

"All three have missed a significant period of cricket recently but continue to make excellent progress and will be looking forward to having a substantial impact during this series.

"To have three world-class players of their calibre returning to the squad is an enormous boost for the Test team."

England's policy of continuity may be the reason there is another chance for Bopara, who fared well in the absence of the injured Jonathan Trott and Morgan in the fourth Test against India at The Oval and then again in the home ODI series.

"Ravi Bopara has another opportunity to show his growth as a Test player, and we believe he will continue to add depth to our batting stocks for what promises to be a highly competitive series," said Miller.

"We've been very pleased with the preparations undertaken by a number of players during what continues to be a lengthy break from international cricket.

"With a long lead-in period once the squad arrives in Dubai, there will be a substantial amount of preparation time to acclimatise and adapt to the conditions."

England play three Tests against Pakistan, with the series getting under way next month.

PA

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