England have called up batsman James Taylor, spinner Monty Panesar and Surrey quick Chris Tremlett to their squad for the Third Ashes Test at Old Trafford, which starts on Thursday.

Star batsman Kevin Pietersen is also included, amid worries about a troublesome left calf, that forced him to miss the entire fourth day of England's emphatic win at Lords a week ago.

Steven Finn and Graham Onions are the ones to miss out as England shuffle their pack as they look to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in Manchester. England have never inflicted a whitewash on Australia in a five match series in the Ashes 130 year history, and have not found themselves 2-0 up in an Ashes series since 1986-87.

Taylor has earnt his recall as precautionary cover for Pietersen, whose chances of appearing at Old Trafford remain in the balance, after some impressive form for Nottinghamshire and the England Lions this season. He averages almost 59 in First Class cricket this season and has impressed when guesting for Sussex against the Australians at Hove this week. With half an hour to go before lunch on the final day at Hove, Taylor had moved to 92 not out.

The diminutive right-hander made his Test debut against South Africa at Headingley last summer, making 34 in a stand of 149 with Pietersen. He played the final Test of that series at Lords but has been out of favour since. His impressive form for Nottinghamshire, however, and his impressive captaincy of the England Lions in Australia last winter have forced him back into the reckoning.

Panesar last appeared for England in Graeme Swann's absence on England's tour of New Zealand earlier this year. While the Sussex man's form has not been spectacular this season, he bowled impressively in Australia's innings of the tour match at Hove, picking up three wickets on a pitch that has offered little to spinners all season. 

With the Old Trafford track expected to turn, Panesar could well appear in place of Tim Bresnan to give England another spinning option. If he appears, it will be his first Home Test match since his and Jimmy Anderson's heroics with the bat earned England a draw at Cardiff in the First Test of the 2009 Ashes. Panesar, something of a cult hero among England fans, has held off competition from Lancashire's in form spinner Simon Kerrigan for a place in the squad.

Tremlett appears to be returning to something near the form that saw him take 17 wickets at 23 on England's victorious tour down under in 2010/11. Since then the giant Surrey man has struggled with injuries but has shown good form in recent weeks and offers a different threat to any of England's other bowlers, not to mention having a number of Australia's top batsman's number last time round.

It remains probable that England will stick with the bowling attack that skittled Australia for 128 and 235 at Lords, but the inclusion of Tremlett and Panesar provides the selectors with intriguing and possibly tempting options.

Taylor will only play if Pietersen fails to come through a fitness test, and Chairman of Selectors Geoff Miller said: "Kevin Pietersen is continuing his recovery from a calf strain and he will be assessed by the medical team closer to the start of the Test, and we have therefore included an extra batsman in James Taylor who has been in good form for Nottinghamshire this season".

 

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#Monty Panesar
#England cricket
#Cricket
#The Ashes