In a bid to reinvent the test squad after the Ashes debacle, the England Cricket Board’s selectors have roped in three uncapped players – Moeen Ali, Sam Robson and Chris Jordan – for the first match of the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka. Only seven members from the Ashes squad have been retained.
Out of the three new players, Sam Robson is the sole cricketer to not have represented England in any format of the game. The Australian-born earned the call after impressive performances in domestic cricket, including five centuries for England’s development sides in the past year alone.
Moeen Ali and Chris Jordan have both played for the ODI and T20 outfits earlier this year. Their inclusion highlights the ECB’s intentions to look past Pietersen, bring in fresh faces and move forward.
This may seem to be a logical step in the right direction for a team that is desperately looking for answers. However, fans may lament the lack of a specialist spinner in the squad. England have yet to find a replacement for Graeme Swann, whose sudden retirement during the Ashes last year symbolized the shambolic state of affairs in the English dressing room throughout the tour.
Monty Panesar has generally been England’s next best spin option, but a troubled personal life has seen his form and commitment to the game slide down. This will mean that Moeen Ali, a handy off-spinner himself, will probably be seen as England’s go-to spinner over the course of the next two matches.
What will also be debatable to some is the inclusion of Matt Prior, whose weaknesses in both Achilles has seen him do very little wicket-keeping over the past season. His selection over the likes of James Foster and even Jos Buttler has especially been scrutinized.
However, Prior’s abundance of experience in the test arena may very well work in his favour and help him get into the scheme of things. The same could also be expected from Liam Plunkett, whose consistent performances for Yorkshire earned him is first test call in seven years.
While the squad doesn’t hold too many surprises, a revitalized and structured batting setup with a fiery pace attack may just be what England is looking for. Whether this works remains to be seen as the two teams face off in a two-match test series that kicks off on Thursday, June 12 at Lord’s.
The England squad
Alastair Cook (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Matt Prior, Sam Robson, Joe Root, Chris Woakes