England called up all-rounder Luke Wright, leg-spinner Adil Rashid and wicketkeeper Steve Davies for the first Test series against South Africa and paceman Liam Plunkett is back in the squad.
There was no place for paceman Steve Harmison or spinner Monty Panesar as England goes into the four-Test series next month on the back of an Ashes triumph against Australia. Ravi Bopara has also been left out and didn’t even make it to the one-day squad.
“Stephen Harmison has not been included in the Test squad because we feel his form has not been consistent enough over the past 12 months to justify a regular place in the side and we want to give an opportunity to other players to make a case for selection,” national selector Geoff Miller said.
“Liam Plunkett has worked hard to improve all aspects of his game since he last played for England (in June 2007 against West Indies) and his selection is reward for consistently putting in strong performances for Durham both with bat and ball. He will provide strong competition for a place in our pace attack this winter.”
Wright received his place because of Andrew Flintoff’s decision to retire from Test cricket, while Davies will be the back-up wicketkeeper to Matt Prior.
Although Kevin Pietersen is recovering from an operation to repair a damaged Achilles’ tendon, England is confident he will be fit to play on the tour, which starts on November 6.
He will miss the Twenty20 games and maybe the start of the one-day games. The Test matches start at Centurion on December 16 and that is followed by matches in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
“Kevin Pietersen is making good progress with his recovery from surgery on his injured Achilles’,” Miller said. “He will join up with the rest of the squad in South Africa following the first two Twenty20 internationals and his fitness will be reassessed ahead of the one-day series.”
Like Wright, Rashid, who is also a useful lower-order batsman, has been in the one-day squad and has been included in both. There is also a recall for seam bowler Sajid Mahmood in the one-day squad, which will play five matches in South Africa plus two Twenty20 games.