Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bopara and Shah hopeful for tour spot

One major decision over England's Test squad for India has been made with the news of Michael Vaughan's omission. Now most of the 15-man party will be simple for the selectors, but the identity of the reserve players may take up a little more time.

With just two Tests, in Ahmedabad and Mumbai, it will be one of England's shortest Test tours. The performance side will also be India at the same time, so the need for a bloated squad full of spare players is reduced. However, in case of match-day emergencies there will need to be cover in all four departments. 
Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah are fighting for Vaughan's place and the fact that Bopara was named in the squad to face South Africa, at The Oval, probably puts him in front. However, Shah made his Test debut in Mumbai in 2006, making 88 and 38, and will almost certainly have played all seven preceding ODIs to find some form. He deserves another Test chance, but could well miss out again. 
The spin cover favourite for Monty Panesar is Graeme Swann, despite Adil Rashid's 62 wickets this season and the claims of Samit Patel. Swann provides enough batting skill to slot into the lower-order if England opt for two spinners in a match, while Rashid and Patel can spend valuable time with the performance squad. 
Despite a tough series against South Africa, Tim Ambrose looks set to be picked although he will lose his Test spot to Matt Prior. He has finished the season in good form for Warwickshire and the award of an incremental contract showed he was still in the selectors' thoughts. The best keeper this season has been James Foster, but he doesn't expect to get a call from the selectors.
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