Decision time for selectors
Bopara set for Test chance
Last Updated: 28/09/08 2:40pm
Bopara: ready for Test comeback
England name their 15-man Test squad for India on Monday with Ravi Bopara in line for a return to the fold.
"We feel we have got all bases covered. We feel we are playing good cricket."
Geoff Miller Quotes of the week
The Essex batsman is likely to benefit from the selectors' decision to omit out-of-form ex-skipper Michael Vaughan.
Bopara replaced Vaughan for the final Test of the summer, although was left out of the final XI to accommodate an extra bowler.
But the 23-year-old, who made three unsuccessful Test appearances in Sri Lanka last winter, has plundered 1,162 runs in the LV County Championship this season and appears to be above the unfortunate Owais Shah in the pecking order.
The XI which defeated the Proteas at the Oval should be retained, although Matt Prior is expected to be first-choice wicketkeeper ahead of Tim Ambrose.
Restricting the numbers to 15 rather than 16 might be seen to be limiting options, but the presence of a performance squad in the same country concurrently has influenced that decision.
"We feel we have got all bases covered," said national selector Geoff Miller.
"We feel we are playing good cricket."
The identity of the second spinner and extra fast bowler are likely to provide Miller with his main headaches.
Nottinghamshire off-spinner Graeme Swann, who has been England's preferred option in one-day cricket for most of the last 12 months, has yet to play a Test and could be overlooked for Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid.
Although Swann's County Championship output was more than doubled by Rashid, who finished with 62 Division One wickets this summer, it might still be considered too soon to throw the latter into the Test arena.
The 20-year-old is a certainty for the England Lions party alongside Nottinghamshire all-rounder Samit Patel, another potential spin option.
If either is required due to illness or injury, they could be called upon, particularly as they will be in Mumbai during the second Test.
Left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom will be included provided he is able to prove his fitness after a collection of injury niggles blighted his domestic summer.
England play Tests in Ahmedabad (Dec 11-15) and Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium (Dec 19-23).
Vaughan, meanwhile, is likely to head to Australia to play grade cricket and rediscover form in a bid to win a place on the tour of West Indies, which begins in January.
The Yorkshireman's winter itinerary appears to be a similar one to that of Andrew Strauss 12 months ago.
Strauss was plunged into domestic action in New Zealand following a rest period which coincided with England's tour of Sri Lanka.