England confirmed their 17-man party for the winter Ashes tour on Monday, naming Monty Panesar among the men charged with the task of retaining the famous urn later this year.
Alastair Cook’s side renew hostilities with Australia on November 21, three months after they wrapped up a 3-0 series triumph over their rivals.
The squad for the return encounter was announced at Lord’s on Monday, with Panesar the most significant name on a list that included one or two surprises—namely the inclusion of Michael Carberry at the expense of Nick Compton.
The chance for redemption presents itself to Panesar after a summer that saw him fined by police following an incident in which he admitted to urinating on bouncers outside of a Brighton nightclub.
He was duly released by county side Sussex, while England left him out of the fifth Test. Panesar later apologised for his actions.
However, since then no England spinner has offered a genuine alternative. Graeme Swann remains the country’s best turner of a cricket ball, and, beyond that, Panesar is the most reliable No. 2.
Simon Kerrigan was brought in for a Test debut in the final match of the summer series, but conceded 53 runs from 48 balls as nerves clearly got the better of the 24-year-old.
James Tredwell, meanwhile, took four wickets in three innings against Australia in the one-day series and was put under plenty of pressure by the visiting batsmen.
Much of the batting lineup named itself for England, with Cook, Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell all easy picks.
However, there remained a question over the cover option at the top of the order—following a less-than-convincing summer for Cook and Trott—and it was Carberry who got the nod ahead of Compton.
Somerset opener Compton hit 889 runs at an average of 47 this season, per Paul Newman of the Daily Mail, but was overlooked despite Carberry's failure to impress in the limited-overs matches.
Carberry averaged 21.60 runs across five ODIs, while at Test level he has hit a total of 64 in two innings. Nevertheless, the 32-year-old has scored over 10,000 runs at first-class level, per Cricinfo, and will be given the platform to prove himself on the international stage.
The bowling unit was always going to feature the names of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Swann, but they will be supported by the towering frame of Chris Tremlett, who, at his best, is able to get bounce out of even the most stubborn wickets. Such an asset will be needed in Australia.
Also included in the squad are Steven Finn and the talented 6’7” Boyd Rankin, with Durham’s Graham Onions and fitness concern Tim Bresnan the men to miss out.
Rankin used the recent one-day games to force his way into the squad with his brand of spiteful, accurate fast bowling, taking wickets in each of the three games in which he bowled against Australia.
Elsewhere, Ben Stokes offers an all-round option, while Jonny Bairstow is the backup glovesman to Matt Prior.
England Ashes Squad in Full:
Alastair Cook, Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Chris Tremlett, Michael Carberry, Boyd Rankin, Steven Finn, Ben Stokes, Monty Panesar