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Stuart Dalgleish 5th Jul 2009 - 10:09

England squad announced

The England board of selectors have picked their squad for the 1st Ashes Test starting this Wednesday.

Perhaps unsurprisingly there is no place for Steve Harmison despite him performing well in the recent warm up match against Australia, his Durham team-mate Graham Onions has however kept his place in the squad.

Experienced players in the shape of Ian Bell and Monty Panesar have earned recalls after missing the two-match series against the West Indies, whether or not both players will actually be in the starting XI is another matter.

Talk before the squad was announced was that two spinners (Panesar and Swann) might be in operation, but Bell's inclusion in the squad, combined with Panesar's less than spectacular form, might suggest a longer batting line-up as opposed to a dual spinning attack.

Personally I believe that just one spinner will be involved with Panesar left on the sidelines, probably sat next to Onions, even though the fast-bowler has been on excellent form so far this season and took plenty of wickets in the recent series against the Windies.

Experience counts for a lot in this game and Bell certainly has that. Over 46 Tests the Warwickshire star has a healthy average of 40.59 and adds to a batting line-up that should be able to post competitive totals for the Aussies to chase. Bell does however have a pretty poor record against Ricky Ponting's team - only averaging 25.10 and he is yet to reach a century.

The top five for England is pretty much a given; captain Strauss and Cook will open, Bopara looks to have made the number three slot his own with some fantastic knocks of late, Pietersen will come in at number four with Collingwood at number five.

Then here comes the selectors decision, does Bell come in and add more runs at number six? Or is Prior six, Flintoff seven then Panesar involved with the three bowlers who are set in stone - Anderson, Broad and Swann?

It's a tough choice as to who will be left out, we won't have long to wait though as the hotly anticipated action gets underway on Wednesday at 11:00. It's sure to be a fantastic series.

Below is the squad in full:

Name Age County Batting style Bowling style Tests
Andrew Strauss (capt) 29 Middlesex Left-handed Left-arm medium 62
James Anderson 26 Lancashire Left-handed Right-arm fast-medium 37
Ian Bell 27 Warwickshire Right-handed Right-arm medium 46
Ravi Bopara 24 Essex Right-handed Right-arm medium 6
Stuart Broad 23 Nottinghamshire Left-handed Right-arm fast-medium 17
Paul Collingwood 33 Durham Right-handed Right-arm medium 48
Alastair Cook 24 Essex Left-handed Right-arm off-break 43
Andrew Flintoff 31 Lancashire Right-handed Right-arm fast 75
Graham Onions 26 Durham Right-handed Right-arm medium-fast 2
Monty Panesar 27 Northamptonshire Left-handed Slow left-arm orthodox 38
Kevin Pietersen 29 Hampshire Right-handed Right-arm off-break 52
Matt Prior 27 Sussex Right-handed Wicket-keeper 18
Graeme Swann 30 Nottinghamshire Right-handed Right-arm off-break 7

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