England squad named for 1st Test against Pakistan
LEEDS: Kevin Pietersen was named in England's 12-man squad on Sunday for the first of four Tests against Pakistan starting at Trent Bridge on Thursday despite not having played any cricket for nearly a month because of a thigh injury.
England's selectors wanted Pietersen to play for Hampshire on Sunday but the county have not included him in their team after he announced his intention to leave the south coast side at the end of the season.
Former Ireland batsman Eoin Morgan retained his place after two moderate displays in England's 2-0 home series win against Bangladesh in May and June after seeing off a challenge from Ravi Bopara.
Fast bowler Stuart Broad and all-rounder Paul Collingwood have returned to the Test squad after being rested for the Bangladesh series.
Promising quick Steven Finn also retained his place, as did Yorkshire seamer Ajmal Shahzad, who made his debut against Bangladesh.
Ian Bell though will miss all four Tests - England's last before they begin their defence of the Ashes in Australia, where they haven't won a Test series since 1986, in November - after the batsman broke a foot fielding in a shock second one-day international defeat by Bangladesh at Bristol on July 10.
Pakistan go into this series on the back of a three-wicket win over Australia at Headingley on Saturday that saw them level a two-Test encounter at 1-1.
England national selector Geoff Miller said: "We have picked a very strong squad for the first Test against a Pakistan side that will be high on confidence following their recent win against Australia.
"We've been encouraged by the form shown by a number of England players involved in County Championship matches this week and those that are coming back from injury or rest, such as Kevin Pietersen, have been working very hard ahead of the first Test next week."
Former England off-spinner Miller added: "Ian Bell's absence provides other batsmen with the chance to impress against a world-class Pakistan attack."
But there was no squad place for the in-form Bopara, who this week scored two hundreds for Es+++ in the same County Championship match against Yorkshire.
Bopara, dropped from the Test side after struggling against Australia last year, struck a quickfire 45 not out and took four wickets in England's crushing 144 run third ODI win against Bangladesh at Edgbaston earlier this month.
There was no place too for Yorkshire seamer Tim Bresnan, who struggled in the Bangladesh one-dayers.
"We have continued with Ajmal Shahzad who is bowling really well and Steven Finn comes back after his strengthening programme and I'm sure he will be keen to continue the good form he has shown," Miller told BBC Radio Five.
"Bopara has been playing really well but we want to see a bit more from Eoin. We want to win this match and win this series but we have an eye on the winter as well and we have got to make sure that the equation is sorted, so Eoin keeps his place."
If England stick with their usual policy of fielding a four-man attack, it means one of the quartet of seamers in the 12 is likely to miss out.
The experienced James Anderson endured a poor one-day series against Bangladesh and could be under pressure for his place.
England squad: Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior (wk), Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Ajmal Shahzad.