Ian Bell was named yesterday in England's 13-man squad for the third Test against Australia, starting at Edgbaston on Thursday.
Bell 'will look to make most of his return'
LONDON // Ian Bell was named yesterday in England's 13-man squad for the third Test against Australia, starting at Edgbaston on Thursday. The 27-year-old right-hand batsman, who has not played international cricket since February, comes into the side after Kevin Pietersen was ruled out of the rest of the series following surgery on an Achilles tendon injury.
The English Cricket Board (ECB) also included bowlers Steve Harmison and Monty Panesar in the squad, which apart from Pietersen remains unchanged from the one that beat Australia by 115 runs at Lord's. "Kevin's injury has presented an opportunity for Ian Bell who we know is a top-class batsmen with an excellent international record for England," national selector Geoff Miller said in a statement. "Ian will be looking to make the most of his return to the side during an Ashes series and while we have a strong idea of where he will bat we won't be disclosing the final line-up of the side until the toss on Thursday."
"Although we haven't named any extra batting cover in the squad we have several options should the need arise to call in another batsmen," he added. Bell will return to make his 48th Test appearance, having missed the last seven after falling out of favour. "He got a hundred just recently [for Warwickshire] and he's been in pretty good form - he's a very good player," Miller said. "We know he's an international quality player and just because he got a nought in his last innings, he's very likely to go and get a 150. We hope he will get 150, so I have no worries about that."
All-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who will retire from Test cricket after the Ashes, is expected to play despite knee problems following his five-wicket haul at Lord's. "Andrew and the medical staff are quite bullish about his prospects of playing but we'll continue to monitor his progress," Miller said. Shane Watson and Stuart Clark, meanwhile, have reinforced their cases for a return to the Australian team. Watson, who followed his first innings 84 in the tourists' match against Northamptonshire by taking two wickets in Northants' first innings, looked equally good in the second, while Clark bowled with economy and precision in both innings.
The out-of-form Mitchell Johnson continued to have a wretched time, bowling short and conceding runs at an alarming rate in both Northamptonshire innings. * Agencies