Monty Panesar has been selected as England’s 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 has been out of favour since he hung on at Cardiff for a draw against Australia in 2009.
England have also been able to include a number of regulars who are fit to travel next month after injury and, in some cases, surgery. Eoin Morgan has been unavailable since the first match of England’s ODI series at home to India in September because of a shoulder injury that required an operation.
Stuart Broad also hurt his shoulder in the home ODI series and missed the return – a 5-0 loss in India. Chris Tremlett has been absent longer, after injuring his back in last summer’s Trent Bridge Test against India while 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 picked.
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.”
England squad for three Tests against Pakistan in January and February: AJ Strauss (Capt, Middlesex), JM Anderson (Lancashire), IR Bell (Warwickshire), RS Bopara (Essex), TT Bresnan (Yorkshire), SCJ Broad (Nottinghamshire), AN Cook (Essex), SM Davies (wkt, Surrey), ST Finn (Middlesex), EJG Morgan (Middlesex), MS Panesar (Sussex), KP Pietersen (Surrey), MJ Prior (wkt, Sussex), GP Swann (Nottinghamshire), CT Tremlett (Surrey), IJL Trott (Warwickshire).