England showed there will be new faces involved in the much-discussed rebuilding process with Moeen Ali, Stephen Parry and Harry Gurney all handed their maiden call-ups to the senior side.
Worcestershire batsman Moeen and Lancashire spinner Parry, aged 26 and 28 respectively, feature among a squad of 15 that will contest the limited-overs tour of West Indies later this month, before going on to the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in March.
Gurney, Nottinghamshire’s 27-year-old left-arm seamer, will get his chance in the Caribbean before returning home.
The trio are the first beneficiaries of England’s winter of upheaval, with Moeen filling the void left by Kevin Pietersen’s absence, Parry profiting from Graeme Swann’s retirement and Gurney handed the chance to permanently overtake recent strugglers Chris Tremlett, Boyd Rankin and even Steven Finn.
National selector James Whitaker, announcing his first squads since taking over from Geoff Miller, said: “We would like to congratulate Moeen Ali and Stephen Parry on their selection for the tour to the Caribbean and then to represent England in the ICC World Twenty20. It is an exciting opportunity for Moeen and Stephen and all the England players.
“Both Moeen and Stephen have been very consistent performers for Worcestershire and Lancashire, and both counties and their coaching staffs must take credit for their continued progress.
“Harry Gurney, under the guidance of the excellent coaches at Trent Bridge, has performed well for Nottinghamshire in limited-overs cricket, showing good control with the white ball. And, as a left-arm quick, he brings some variety to the tour party.
“England have won the ICC World Twenty20 before – in 2010 in the Caribbean – and this group has an exciting mix of youth and Twenty20 experience and I am sure, with good preparation, desire and determination, they will be able to produce an exciting brand of cricket.”
Moeen was perhaps the least surprising of the call-ups, having been a feature of England Lions and EPP squads and scored more than 2,000 runs in all formats for the Pears last season.
He was the LV= County Championship’s top scorer with 1,375 at 62.50 and has long looked ready for the step up to international cricket. In Twenty20 terms, his canny off-spin makes him an attractive all-round option in Bangladesh.
Reflecting on the reasons for his call-up, Moeen told Sky Sports News: “I think maybe I’ve just matured a bit. I went back to basics, did the right things and, thankfully, I’ve been rewarded with the England Lions and now the England call-up.
“This is the best I’ve ever batted. I feel like I’ve grown up as a cricketer and I know my game much better now. I’m ready to play.”
Whitaker declined to elaborate on the end of Kevin Pietersen’s international career, citing legal reasons. “That is a legal position and, at the moment, I’m not at liberty to say,” he said.
The 51-year-old, a Leicestershire stalwart who played a single Test for England in 1986, had earlier conceded that dropping Pietersen constituted “a tricky decision”.
The ECB has come under considerable pressure to lay bare in lurid detail the events that led to them ending the career of one of England’s greatest-ever batsmen.