Prior inclusion makes sense

Andy Lloyd
STEVEN DAVIES is an extremely talented cricketer, one with a bright international future ahead of him, but the strength in depth of this England unit is such that he can have no complaints at missing out on a World Cup place to Matt Prior.

Davies has been given the opportunities to shine against Australia in four Twenty20 and one-day games, but hasn’t really been able to dominate or impose himself on an attack his main rival had so recently prospered against.

It was a tough call for the selectors, but one I believe they’ve got right. Luckily for Davies, he’s young enough at 24 to know there will be opportunities down the line for him.

The presence of the Sussex gloveman will restore a right-hand / left-hand combination at the top of the order and that is vital in the 50 over game, especially with the advent of power-plays. Whether Prior remains as an opener for the whole tournament remains to be seen, but he’s good enough to do a job there.

If England were looking for an alternative to Davies, some people will wonder why Alastair Cook, the most in-form opener in world cricket at the moment, wasn’t given a shot.

As good a player as Cook is, he’s not really built for this format of the game, and there’s no room in this side for both him and Andrew Strauss.

Despite his recent loss of form with the bat, Paul Collingwood is a certain starter. I think a couple of weeks off will do him the world of good and allow him to clear his mind ahead of the next massive challenge for England.

If you are going to succeed in places like India and Sri Lanka, I can’t overstress how important it is to understand and have prior experience of the conditions. It really is a completely different world and with his low, slow off-cutters, Collingwood will have a vital role to play with the ball, never mind with the willow.

Looking at the 15-man squad, my one concern is the selection of Stuart Broad. How fit is he? How much cricket will England able to get into him before the tournament starts? He’s a huge part of this team and were he to suffer a reoccurrence of the side strain which ruled him out of three Ashes Tests, England do not have a like-for-like replacement.

I’ve been very impressed with Ajmal Shahzad, whose been selected as the back-up seamer, but he’s different to Broad and is nowhere near as experienced. Bowling at the death is a unique skill – one he’s not had much time to master.

Andrew Strauss (capt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior (wk), Ajmal Shahzad, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy.