England have announced their eagerly anticipated squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka at Lord's starting on the June 12.
Speculation before the naming of the squad has been rife with many different players touted for roles in the side. However, not all could be selected and England have decided to put their faith in 12 players as they look to rebuild their Test match reputation.
England have not played Test cricket since they ended their woeful tour of Australia, in Sydney, in early January.
The England selection panel have not gone for wholesale changes and, in truth, many of the changes have already been predicted by onlookers. It is no big, brave new world but there
are winners and losers after today's announcement.
Coach Peter Moores and captain Alastair Cook are still reliant on the more experienced players such as Ian Bell, Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Cook himself but they also have an exciting, youthful look about them as they look to rebuild after losing a number of senior players, such as Kebin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann over the last few months.
Key areas that England have had to address have been the wicket-keeper role, Cook's fellow opening partner and the spin options.
By choosing Matt Prior as wicket-keeper England must still believe he is the best man for the job at present, despite Jos Buttler and Essex's James Foster pressurising the Sussex man. Prior has been plagued by an Achilles problem this season but England must be confident in managing the situation.
Cook will possibly open the batting with youngster Sam Robson who has been earmarked for an England role for some time now. Michael Carberry, Cook's previous opening partner
misses out and may feel aggrieved to have not made the squad. England could also look towards Moeen Ali and Joe Root as other possible opening options for skipper Cook.
With Graeme Swann's retirement England are lacking a truly World class spinner. Indications are that England will use pace against the Sri Lankans and this looks even more likely given the non-selection of a front-line spinner, such as James Tredwell. However, they will use the more than capable part-time spinners, Moeen Ali and Joe Root, as back up. This could be the way England go this summer.
Impressive youngster Chris Jordan, who looks set to make his first Test appearance, has been included and fully deserves his chance. He has been impressive in the
ODI format of the game and looks to be a player who is born to play Test match cricket.
The England selectors have also shown that they are prepared to reward players for their county form by recalling Yorkshire fast bowler Liam Plunkett to the Test squad after a seven-year absence. Plunkett has been playing well all season and contributing regularly with the bat and the ball.
Those who have not made it into the squad will need to continue their form in the county arena and hope that they can force their way into the side somehow. The England side is not a closed shop now and all the players selected will need to continue to prove themselves for fear of losing their place.
Although the series against Sri Lanka is only two matches I am sure it will be eagerly contested especially after the controversial run-out of Jos Buttler in the deciding ODI this week. All the players will be out to impress, so fireworks can be expected.
This summer is a rebuilding phase for England so patience is key. The selectors clearly feel that this group of players can take the national side forward. Good luck to all of them.
The full squad for the first a Test against Sri Lanka at Lords on 12th June is as follows;
Alastair Cook (Essex), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Liam Plunkett (Yorkshire), Matt Prior (Sussex), Sam Robson (Middlesex), Joe Root
(Yorkshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire).
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