The England selectors have chosen to rest Stuart Broad and Paul Collingwood for Thursday’s first Test with Bangladesh at Lord’s. Eoin Morgan has been named in a twelve man squad after batting well in the ICC World Twenty20 and looks set to replace Collingwood. Both Collingwood and Broad will miss the two match Test series to recover. Tall fast bowler Steven Finn, who made his Test debut in Bangladesh during the winter, has been selected along with fellow seamer Ajmal Shahzad.
Collingwood has had some difficulties with his left shoulder and has been advised to recuperate over the next few weeks with a view to returning for the home series against Pakistan. England face a busy summer schedule ahead of the Ashes series in Australia which begins at the end of November. After the Test series against Bangladesh, there are five one-day internationals against Australia and three against Bangladesh. A four-Test series with Pakistan will then be held, before a five match one-day international series against the same opposition at the end of the summer. With this in mind, it is a prudent decision to give Collingwood and Broad a much-needed rest.
Andrew Strauss will return to lead the side and James Anderson is also back in line to start after both missed the series in Bangladesh. Strauss will undoubtedly be very excited to lead the side again after his rest this winter; his individual scores have gradually improved for Middlesex and he goes into the first Test in reasonable form. His likely opening partner and vice-captain Alastair Cook however has endured an indifferent start to the County season, averaging less than thirty for Essex. Jonathan Trott looks set to maintain his position at number three after hitting a superb 150 for Warwickshire in a losing cause against Lancashire to boost his average this season above forty.
Kevin Pietersen will bat at four having regained his top form at last, batting superbly in the Twenty20 World Cup. England fans will be hoping that he continues his strong form into the Test arena following the birth of his first child. Eoin Morgan, 23, has been given his first opportunity at Test level and will be hoping that his displays in the shorter forms of the game will ensure he earns his Test debut on Thursday. He has scored six centuries in 48 first-class matches at an average of 36.54, and will be looking to impress this summer. Ian Bell looks set to return to the England side and will presumably bat lower down the order, where he has enjoyed much success in Tests. He was one of England’s better performers in South Africa, but has only struck two fifties in ten innings so far this season for Warwickshire.
Despite good performances in the Twenty20 World Cup by Craig Kieswetter, Matt Prior will return to international action for the Test matches, but will begin to feel pressure from James Foster of Essex and Steven Davies of Surrey as well as Somerset’s Kieswetter if he does not perform well against Bangladesh and Pakistan. Yorkshire’s Tim Bresnan, who impressed hugely during the Twenty20 World Cup has been handed the chance to establish himself as the team’s Test all-rounder. He will be hoping to build upon a good showing in the shorter form of the game, and his batting ability will provide strength in depth to England’s line-up. Graeme Swann will continue his role as England’s only spinner and will be looking to maintain his superb form which saw him voted as England’s Cricketer of the year, as selected by British media.
James Anderson has recently suffered from a recurrent knee injury which saw him miss the tour of Bangladesh, but he is nearing full fitness and will hope for some strong bowling performances against one of the weaker international batting line-ups. Steven Finn, 21, played in both winter Tests in Bangladesh, taking four wickets at 44 runs apiece, and I believe his Test experience will give him the edge over Ajmal Shahzad. Yorkshire-man Shahzad featured in Bangladesh, but only played a solitary one-day international in which he took 1-55 from nine overs, having made his international debut the previous month in Dubai when he took 2-38 in a Twenty20 international against Pakistan. Finn took 3-45 and 4-19 against Derbyshire at his home ground of Lord’s in early May, as well as taking an excellent 9-37 in Worcestershire’s second-innings at the beginning of April. These bowling performances are likely to see Finn picked ahead of Shahzad, and I believe his compact bowling action, as well as his height that will see him generate a lot of bounce, will see him perform well against Bangladesh.
Whatever side England do actually opt for, I fully expect them to win both Test matches comfortably, and hope to see them continue their current consistently good performances in the shorter format of the game.
Andrew Strauss (Middlesex, captain)
Alastair Cook (Essex)
Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)
Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire)
Ian Bell (Warwickshire)
Eoin Morgan (Middlesex)
Matt Prior (Sussex, wk)
Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire)
Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire)
James Anderson (Lancashire)
Steve Finn (Middlesex)