England have included Chris Tremlett in a 30-man Performance Squad for the summer, confirmation that the giant Surrey seamer remains in their plans for consecutive Ashes series despite having had one more operation over the past 14 months than he has played first-class games.
Tremlett, 31 and a member of the pace attack in England's last Ashes triumph in Australia, is the only one of the squad who has not been selected at some stage of the winter, his last international involvement having come early last year when he played in the first Test against Pakistan in Dubai, only to be ruled out of the second in Abu Dhabi by a back problem that required surgery.
His comeback last summer was then cut short after a single County Championship match against Lancashire at Guildford in July, and he had another operation in September. But England remained sufficiently keen to invite him to their fast-bowling performance programme in South Africa in January and wanted him to join the one-day squad in India so that they could monitor him more closely.
Surrey were able to reject that approach because Tremlett's central contract had not been renewed by England, whereas they had offered him a new one-year deal. So he has played a full part in the county's pre-season preparations and is expected to make his latest comeback in their opening Championship match against Somerset which starts at The Oval on 17 April.
Tremlett was also a member of the 27-man Performance Squad for 2012 that was announced this time last year. Other than Andrew Strauss, who has retired, three members of that 27 have been omitted this time – James Taylor, Ben Stokes and Steve Davies.
Taylor would seem to have fallen well down the pecking order since he played in the home series against South Africa last year. Joe Root has leapfrogged the Nottinghamshire batsman in all forms of the game, although Taylor also suffers from a greater emphasis on one-day players in this year's list.
His Nottinghamshire team-mates Alex Hales and Michael Lumb, both of whom would be regarded as 50-over or Twenty20 specialists, are among the seven "new" faces, as is the Sussex all-rounder Luke Wright.
But Stokes's omission reflects the poor attitude that led to Durham's New Zealand born all-rounder being sent home from the Lions tour of Australia during the winter, with the Kent seamer Matt Coles.
Nick Compton is another newcomer to the Performance Squad, having already replaced Strauss in the Test team, and the seamers James Harris – now of Middlesex after a winter move from Glamorgan – and Warwickshire's Chris Woakes are also added after being called into various squads through the winter.
But perhaps the most surprising inclusion is Craig Kieswetter, the wicketkeeper who was overtaken by his Somerset team-mate Jos Buttler during the winter – but has clearly not been discarded completely by the selectors.
They will name another 30-man squad later this week, specifically for the ICC Champions Trophy in England this summer, as required by the tournament organisers. That could include Rikki Clarke, the former Surrey all-rounder who has reinvented himself so effectively in the last three seasons with Warwickshire.
Australia have been given permission not to make their 30 public, but they will announce their latest list of contracted players this week – with Fairfax newspapers reporting that Mitchell Starc will be rewarded for his impressive form in all forms of the game by promotion into the top five earners, whereas the Nottinghamshire regular David Hussey is set to miss out ).
England performance squad
Alastair Cook (Essex) Test and one-day captain
Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire) T20 captain
Jimmy Anderson (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Ravi Bopara (Essex), Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire), Danny Briggs (Hampshire), Jos Buttler (Somerset), Nick Compton (Somerset), Jade Dernbach (Surrey), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), James Harris (Middlesex), Craig Kieswetter (Somerset), Michael Lumb (Nottinghamshire), Stuart Meaker (Surrey), Eoin Morgan (Middlesex), Graham Onions (Durham), Monty Panesar (Sussex), Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire), Kevin Pietersen (Surrey), Matt Prior (Sussex), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire), James Tredwell (Kent), Chris Tremlett (Surrey), Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Luke Wright (Sussex).
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image: © JJ Hall