DURHAM’s Graham Onions has been included in England’s 13-man squad for the first test against West Indies at Lord’s this week.
The seamer will be trying to earn a place in the starting 11 ahead of Tim Bressnan and Steve Finn.
Skipper Andrew Strauss begins the summer searching for only his second century in his last 50 attempts in Test cricket – but his tenure as captain remains assured.
Strauss, likely to be leading a debutant at Lord’s on Thursday after Jonny Bairstow was picked in the squad to replace the injured Ravi Bopara, has had his critics in recent months.
The opener was bowled for a duck against Sri Lanka in his last Test innings of a winter characterised by the struggles of England’s batsmen, especially in the unexpected 3-0 defeat by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
But it is the passage of time since the last of his 19 centuries, in Brisbane 18 months ago, which has fuelled a popular theory that the 35-year-old who has led England to the top of the world Test rankings might soon be on borrowed time.
National selector Geoff Miller made it clear yesterday that is far from the case.
“Of course, we do stand by Andrew Strauss,” he said.
“He’s the England captain, a successful England captain over the last two or three years or so.
“He’s probably not scored the amount of runs he would have liked. But I’m sure they’re just round the corner. He’s a quality player.”
Strauss is joint-seventh, alongside his opening partner Alastair Cook, in England’s all-time list of most prolific centurions.
His unbeaten 43 for Middlesex on Saturday is the second time this season he has threatened a half-century, from only a handful of opportunities in the LV= County Championship.
Miller added: “From a captaincy point of view, it’s created a solid unit.
“He’s just started to get runs – 40 odd not out (on Saturday) – I’m sure that will be the turnaround in his fortunes.”
As for a time limit for Strauss to convince again at Test level, Miller said: “We don’t think like that. We just monitor and wait and see how things are going.
“We wouldn’t just say, ‘Well, you’ve got so many games to prove it’.
“We don’t work like that. We’ll know when it’s the right time, if it’s detrimental to the side – and he’ll know that as well.
“They are honest players in those changing rooms now, and they know exactly when is right and when’s wrong.”