England recalled spin bowler Monty Panesar for the Ashes cricket series in Australia after off-field incidents overshadowed his career.
Panesar was named as a second spinner to Graeme Swann in a 17-man squad announced by the England and Wales Cricket Board at Lord’s in London today.
Batsman Gary Ballance, bowler Boyd Rankin and all-rounder Ben Stokes were also named. The trio have never played Test cricket but do have international experience having represented the Lions, England’s second-tier team.
“They’ve justified it in their performances in county cricket and for the Lions,” Geoff Miller, England’s chairman of selectors, said of the newcomers in an interview. “They’ve shown that they can make that one step up, now it’s time to see if they can make that second step.”
Batsman Michael Carberry, who has one Test appearance, was also selected. The 32-year-old played his only 5-day game for England against Bangladesh in 2010, but featured in the recent one-day series against Australia.
Bowler Tim Bresnan was sidelined due to a stress fracture in his lower back, but will travel with the squad “to maximize his rehab opportunities with the medical team and coaches who will monitor his progress,” the ECB said in a statement on its website.
Panesar was released by county team Sussex last month and signed on loan with Essex after an incident at a night club when he urinated on bouncers and was fined by police. The recently divorced 31-year-old said at the time he’d “endured a challenging time this year off the field and my frustrations have sometimes got the better of me professionally.”
Panesar has played in 48 Tests for England, the last of them against New Zealand at Auckland in March.
England defeated Australia 3-0 in a five-Test home series this year. The victory margin was England’s biggest in the Ashes since a 5-1 win in 1978-79 and its best at home since a 3-0 triumph in 1977, which was the last time Australia failed to win a single match against its oldest international rival.
The five-Test series in Australia starts in Brisbane on Nov. 21. There are also matches at Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
England squad: Cook, Prior, Anderson, Bairstow, Ballance, Bell, Broad, Carberry, Finn, Panesar, Pietersen, Rankin, Root, Stokes, Swann, Tremlett, Trott.