The England board of selectors have named the 30 strong squad which may or may not have any relation to the team which will travel to contest the most coveted of cricketing prizes: the ICC Champions Trophy.
Surprise inclusion is Vikram Solanki who has played like a comic relief character for some time now, yet is still billed as a one day ‘specialist’. That said I can think of plenty of times I have seen him play and thought “Hmm… he’s a bit special”. His inclusion, along with that of Mal Loye, is even more odd as it comes at the expense of James Benning who, with veteran ODI god Ali Brown, has been unstoppable in domestic limited overs cricket and the much vaunted, if rarely on form, Kentish skip Rob Key.
Allrounder choices are as you would expect; Jamie Dalrymple, a supposedly soon to be fit Ian Blackwell and Alex Loudon making up a spinning trio. The selectors have also cruelly continued to include Rikki Clarke, presumably just for the fun of dropping him again and again.
The selectors have decided to heed the never-ending cries Yorkshire piestacker Gough who, having swanned off to chuck a bint about telly when England were getting slaughtered in India and Pakistan, has done little other than bowl very well for Essex and talk about how good he is.
Rather than allowing him to fade into the background with his Ashes laurels intact and talk about what could’a’been, Graveney and co. are going to make poor Gilo come back and prove the King of Spain is well and truely dead, long live Monty, which I think is just mean. We all knew he wasn’t up to much when he was all we had, let the man go out on a high.
BatsmenIan Bell (Warwickshire), Alastair Cook (Essex), Ed Joyce (Middlesex), Mal Loye (Lancashire), Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire), Vikram Solanki (Worcestershire), Andrew Strauss (Middlesex, capt), Marcus Trescothick (Somerset)
AllroundersIan Blackwell (Somerset), Ravi Bopara (Essex), Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire), Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire), Glen Chapple (Lancashire), Rikki Clarke (Surrey), Paul Collingwood (Durham), James Dalrymple (Middlesex), Alex Loudon (Warwickshire), Michael Yardy (Sussex)
WicketkeepersGeraint Jones (Kent), Chris Read (Notts)
BowlersJames Anderson (Lancashire), Stuart Broad (Leicestershire), Ashley Giles (Warwickshire), Darren Gough (Essex), Stephen Harmison (Durham), Matthew Hoggard (Yorkshire), Jon Lewis (Gloucestershire), Sajid Mahmood (Lancashire), Graham Onions (Durham), Liam Plunkett (Durham).