Two bowling spots up for grabs in England Ashes squad

London: England`s current emphasis on continuity should ensure there are no surprises in the Ashes squad which will be announced at The Oval on Thursday with probably only two bowling spots in dispute.

The return of Kevin Pietersen after he was dropped for the one-day internationals against Pakistan gives England a full batting contingent for the five-Test series against Australia starting in Brisbane on Nov. 25.

Steve Davies` success at opener in England`s one-day team makes him the probable backup to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

England are committed to a four-man attack comprising James Anderson, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann with Tim Bresnan in reserve.

Injury to Graham Onions and Ryan Sidebotttom`s decision to retire means Ajmal Shahzad is the favourite for the other fast bowler`s spot. Shahzad made a promising debut against Bangladesh this year when he demonstrated an ability to reverse swing the ball at high pace. An alternative to Shahzad is Chris Tremlett who has enjoyed a fine season with Surrey and who has the height to extract disconcerting bounce on Australian pitches.

A more interesting debate is the choice of backup spinner to Swann, the key member of the England attack.

England have been grooming leg-spinner Adil Rashid who has been in form with bat and ball for Yorkshire this year.

Off-spinner James Tredwell, who toured Bangladesh this year, is also a candidate but the selectors may be tempted to return to left-armer Monty Panesar, who is still a better bowler than either despite losing his Test place last year.

The 16-man squad leave for Australia on Oct. 29.

Bureau Report

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