Former England captain Michael Vaughan was one of several experienced players left out when a 12-man squad was announced yesterday for next week’s first Test against the West Indies at Lord’s.
Vaughan had been tipped for a return at No. 3 in the batting order, having not played international cricket since resigning from the captaincy against South Africa last year.
But not only did he fail to make it into the squad but so too did two of his leading rivals for the No. 3 role.
Owais Shah, who played in the last three Tests of this year’s England tour of the West Indies, where the visitors lost the series 1-0, was omitted as was Ian Bell.
There was also no place for fast bowler Stephen Harmison.
Essex’s Ravi Bopara, a 24-year-old all-rounder who could help balance the side in the absence of the injured Andrew Flintoff, is in line to bat at No. 3 after hitting a hundred against the West Indies in Barbados last month.
Uncapped fast bowlers Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan were included in the squad, with the duo set to provide back-up to pace duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
Bell, who has often flattered to deceive at Test level, pressed his claims for a recall by making the first County Championship hundred of the season, for Warwickshire against Somerset and also posting a one-day century against the west country side.
Selector Geoff Miller said Indian Premier League player Bopara, who made 104 in the last of his four Tests, against the West Indies in Barbados, had shown he had the character to succeed at international level.
“The selectors felt that Ravi Bopara deserved his chance after his performance in his single Test in the Caribbean this winter,” he said. “There was a lot of competition for that batting position but Bopara now has the opportunity to stake a claim. He showed in Barbados that he has the ability to play at Test level.”
Miller refused to call time on Vaughan’s international career.
“Michael, we need to see him get a few more runs in county cricket. Ian Bell has had a tremendous start to the season but we need him to get even more passionate about getting into the side so when he does get back in, he doesn’t lose his place again,” Miller said.