The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have ended the speculation over the make-up of England's Test squad for the fifth and final Ashes Test by handing Jonathan Trott a place in the 14-man squad at the expense of Ravi Bopara.
There had been calls from some quarters to recall Kent's Robert Key or Surrey's Mark Ramprakash but Trott, who has scored heavily in Division One of the LV County Championship this year, is set to make his Test debut on Thursday.
The series is locked at 1-1and England are poised to welcome back all-rounder Andrew Flintoff for what would be his farewell Test match and could yet play two spinners, as they did at Cardiff in the opening match after they included Monty Panesar alongside Graeme Swann.
National selector Geoff Miller explained: “The final Test Match is an absolutely vital game for the team with so much at stake and we have had to make some difficult selection decisions in choosing our squad for The Brit Oval.
“Ravi Bopara has been going through a tough time with the bat in this series and we have decided to leave him out of the squad for this game. He will be extremely disappointed but remains very much part of our plans for the future and I am sure that he has the talent and temperament to regain his place in the side.
“Ravi’s omission means Jonathan Trott will make his Test debut at The Brit Oval. Having been part of the squad at Headingley, he was the next batsman in line in our view and this rewards him for the excellent form he has shown in County cricket both this summer and with England Lions over the winter.
“Ian Bell will bat at three next week which is a position he has occupied for England before and we were delighted to see both him and Jonathan make centuries for Warwickshire this week.
“Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson’s injuries are much improved with rest and treatment and we anticipate that both players will be fit and available for selection next Thursday. “
England must win the match to regain the Ashes while a draw is enough for Australia to retain the urn.
England: Andrew Strauss (captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Graham Onions, Monty Panesar, Matthew Prior, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott
© Cricket World 2009