MELBOURNE, January 19 – England handed feisty wicketkeeper Matt Prior a surprise call up as they announced on Wednesday their 15-man squad for next month's ICC Cricket World Cup.
England also rewarded Ashes heroes Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen, both of whom have had extended periods out of the limited overs side in recent years, with selection, while struggling veteran Paul Collingwood also made the squad for the tournament in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Unlucky wicketkeeper-batsman Steve Davies makes way for Prior, who earned a recall after 10 months out of the team.
England coach Andy Flower said Prior had forced his way back into the side with his performances in Australia, including a dashing century in the fifth Test.
"We believe that Matt Prior is best suited to the sub-continent conditions and that’s why we’ve picked him," Flower said in Hobart.
"It was a tough decision. We always knew that the timing of the World Cup announcement was going to be tricky. It’s not ideal one game into a seven-match series.
"Steven Davies was picked in our last one-day series, he did OK against Pakistan. He picked him for this series in Australia because of the conditions out here.
"The circumstances have changed. Matt Prior did very well out here in the Test matches," Flower said.
"He is a combative, aggressive cricketer. He fits our aggressive fielding unit so those are the reasons why he has been picked for the World Cup."
Prior will also take over the gloves for the English team in the current seven-match one-day international series against Australia, starting with Friday’s game in Hobart, the state capital of Tasmania.
The 28-year-old has played 55 ODIs but has not added to that tally since March last year.
Davies had kept in England’s past six ODIs, averaging over 35 with the bat, and opened the batting in Sunday’s loss to Australia at the MCG, making 42 from 35 balls.
The enigmatic Pietersen was part of England’s 2007 World Cup campaign, but Sunday’s game against Australia, in which he made 78 from 75 balls, was his first since July last year.
Bell has played just five ODIs since 2008, but has been rewarded for his impeccable form with the bat during the Ashes by being recalled to both the ODI and Twenty20 teams.
Spinner Graeme Swann was named despite an injury setback that will see him miss at last two weeks with a bruised knee.
Flower said Swann could still play a part in the series against Australia, after being struck on the left knee while batting in last Wednesday’s Twenty20 match.
Stuart Broad, who returned to England with a side strain suffered during the second Ashes Test, is ready to resume and made the 15.
Promising young quick Ajmal Shazad also made the squad, along with all-rounder Luke Wright and spinner James Tredwell, who will offer support to Swann and Michael Yardy.
England will take plenty of confidence gained in the other forms of the game into the tournament, having last year been crowned Twenty20 world champions and then dismantled Australia in the Ashes.
Andrew Strauss (captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Ajmal Shahzad, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy.