Monty spins back in favour

Monty Panesar and Steven Davies are back in the England Test squad to face Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates next month.

The duo feature in an otherwise predictable 16-man party under captain Andrew Strauss. Spinner Panesar has been out of favour since the last of his 39 Test caps when his incredible rearguard batting with James Anderson saved the first Ashes Test in Cardiff in 2009.

Davies, who was reserve wicketkeeper last winter, has not played for his country since the one-dayers against Australia in January. The squad sees a number of players return from injury also, with batsman Eoin Morgan and Stuart Broad back after shoulder problems.

Broad’s fellow seamer Chris Tremlett has been absent longer, having injured his back before last summer’s Trent Bridge Test against India, while pace bowler Tim Bresnan has undergone a recent operation on his elbow.

Steven Finn, the sole success story of England’s hapless autumn tour, is also in the reckoning as a pace option. But the most eye-catching element of a squad otherwise notable for the inclusion of Ravi Bopara as a back-up specialist batsman, despite his mediocre trip to India, is the presence of Panesar.

National selector Geoff Miller said: “Monty Panesar, who has been playing cricket in Sydney recently, has been selected as the second spin option along with Graeme Swann.”

Sussex ace Panesar will not simply be back-up to Graeme Swann, but could well bowl in tandem with England’s main man in spin-friendly conditions. England play three Tests against Pakistan, with the first one getting underway on 17 January in Dubai.

Test squad: AJ Strauss (Captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Steven Davies, Steven Finn (wkt), Eoin Morgan, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior (wkt), Graeme Swann, Chris Tremlett, Jonathan Trott.