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Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 11:38 UK

England overlook Bell and Vaughan

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Bell disappointed to miss out on England place

England have left batsmen Ian Bell and Michael Vaughan and fast bowler Steve Harmison out of the squad for the first Test against West Indies at Lord's.

Middlesex batsman Owais Shah has been dropped, so Essex's Ravi Bopara is set to take the vital number three role.

Uncapped seam bowlers Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan are surprise inclusions and they will provide support for James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

"Both have had good starts to this season," said selector Geoff Miller.

England needed to reinforce the seam attack because Andrew Flintoff and Ryan Sidebottom are both unavailable but including Harmison and recalling a more experienced candidate like Matthew Hoggard or Saj Mahmood would have been the safe option.

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Explaining the decision, Miller said: "This is very exciting for the two young fast bowlers to be included in the squad for a Lord's Test match and sends a message to all county players that if they put in consistently good performances they will get recognised."

He added: "They have earned their place in the party."

Onions, 26, is a team-mate of Harmison at Durham and has taken 152 first-class wickets at an average of 32, but has yet to play international cricket.

Bresnan, from Yorkshire, is two years younger but has played five one-day internationals, the most recent against Scotland last summer, and a Twenty20 match for England.

"Onions is playing really well this summer and we've had good reports from batsmen who have faced him and coaches," Miller continued.

"Bresnan is also bowling well and the conditions might suit his kind of bowling although he is not a like-for-like replacement for Andrew Flintoff as he will bat further down the order."

The squad announcement had been delayed for nine days to give the selectors more time to assess potential candidates.

Bell, who lost his place during the recent tour to the Caribbean, staked a claim for a recall with two early season centuries and former skipper Vaughan made an impressive 82 in a Friends Provident Trophy game for Yorkshire last weekend.

However, Vaughan was out for five in a Championship game against Worcestershire just hours after learning of his non-selection.

Miller has not ruled out a return to the Test side for either player.

"Bell has to continue playing like he has been. It's about technique, ability and character for him," he said.

"I'm sure he can keep banging out the runs in county cricket and I read that he's said that the next opportunity he gets he's going to make sure he stays in the Test squad and that's what we're looking for.

Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan
The selectors have backed the potential of Onions and Bresnan

"Vaughan has played well in pre-season, but he's not got the big scores that we'd like to see and that are necessary but he's still part of the framework.

"He's centrally contracted and we are in constant touch with him - he knows what's required, it's just a matter of doing it in county cricket.

"It's going a long summer and we'd like both of them knocking on the door."

Both are desperate to be involved in the Ashes series against Australia, which begins in July.

But instead the selectors have chosen to back the potential of 23-year-old Bopara, currently playing in the Indian Premier League in South Africa, following his maiden Test hundred in Barbados two months ago.

On that occasion, he batted at six, as he has in all four Test appearances to date, and moving up three places will be a big test of his technique and temperament.

"There was a lot of competition for that batting position but Bopara now has the opportunity to stake a claim. He showed in Barbados that he has the ability to play at Test level," Miller commented.

Matt Prior keeps his place as wicketkeeper and is likely to bat at six at Lord's, with Broad or Bresnan, who has hit three first-class centuries, going in at number seven.

Spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar are both in the squad but with only one likely to play in the first Test, which starts on 6 May, Swann appears to be in pole position.

The Notts off-spinner was England's leading wicket-taker in the series in the West Indies earlier this year, with 19 victims at a cost of only 24 runs each.

Miller said: "We know where we stand, it was proven in the West Indies, but there's not a number one England spinner."


England squad: Andrew Strauss (capt), James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Graham Onions, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann.



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see also
Jonathan Agnew column
29 Apr 09 |  England
Lack of opportunity concerns Bell
29 Apr 09 |  England
Stewart backs Bopara to flourish
29 Apr 09 |  England
Six-for Onions skittles Somerset
29 Apr 09 |  Counties
Flintoff knee surgery 'a success'
28 Apr 09 |  England
Vaughan denied by Headingley rain
28 Apr 09 |  Counties
England skipper Strauss hits form
28 Apr 09 |  Counties
Flintoff to undergo knee surgery
24 Apr 09 |  England
Vaughan in runs as Yorkshire win
26 Apr 09 |  Counties
Bopara outshines Pietersen in IPL
24 Apr 09 |  Cricket
Kieswetter puts Bell in the shade
19 Apr 09 |  Counties
England delay picking Test squad
18 Apr 09 |  England
Hungry Bell compiles big century
16 Apr 09 |  Counties
England select Foster and Mahmood
08 Apr 09 |  England
West Indies in England 2009
04 Dec 08 |  Cricket


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