England name squad for South Africa
Mon, 16 Jul 2012 2:34a.m.
Ravi Bopara was included in England's 13-man squad for the first test against South Africa at The Oval, giving the batsman another chance to stake his claim for a regular spot in the team after a year in the wilderness.
Bopara is set to win his 13th test cap after taking the place of Jonny Bairstow in the only change to the squad that beat West Indies 2-0 in England's first series of the summer.
"Ravi Bopara has worked hard to regain his place in the test squad, following some injury concerns earlier in the season," national selector Geoff Miller says, referring to a thigh problem the 27-year-old batsman sustained prior to the West Indies series.
The first test, which starts on Thursday, is the first of three and will decide which team tops the ICC test rankings at the end of the summer.
England has been No. 1 since the 4-0 series win over India last summer, with Bopara's last test coming in the final match of that series.
"We have played some very good cricket over the last couple of months in all formats to win series against the West Indies and Australia - and after a month of limited-overs cricket, preparations are now under way for what is sure to be a very competitive test series against South Africa," Miller says.
"We know we will need to play excellent cricket to win this three-match series, and the squad will be determined to start with a strong performance this week."
England has kept its bowling options open by including Steven Finn and Graham Onions along with its regular pace attack of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan. Spinner Graeme Swann is fit after doubts about his right elbow.
Andrew Strauss (captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Steven Finn, Graham Onions, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott.
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