London: England named uncapped Kent batsman Robert Key in a Test squad for the first time when it announced a 13-man party for the second match of its four-Test series against India at Trent Bridge on Thursday. Key, 23, takes the place of Graham Thorpe and is set to open the batting alongside Michael Vaughan with Marcus Trescothick still sidelined because of a fractured thumb.
England's chairman of selectors, David Graveney, said Sunday, "We also considered Ian Bell and David Fulton as replacements for Graham Thorpe. But Robert Key has been in outstanding form for Kent and his career has really kicked on this season after he attended the National Academy in Australia last winter. "He will open the batting with Michael Vaughan with Mark Butcher coming in at number three." Key, who has lost weight in a bid to improve his once suspect fitness, averages 44 in 12 first-class matches this season.
After England's 170 run win over India at Lord's in the first Test, middle-order batsman Thorpe announced he would be taking an indefinite break from all cricket in a bid to spend more time with his children following the break-up of his marriage. Durham fast bowler Stephen Harmison has been in England squads before but has yet to earn a Test cap. However, he too was called up on Sunday because fellow quick Simon Jones, who made a promising Test debut at Lord's, was forced to withdraw with a side strain.
Alex Tudor, one of three England fast bowlers (the others were Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick) who missed the series opener due to injury is included in the squad even though his shin splint problem has not been tested in a first-class match since the first Test. Turning to the bowling, Graveney said, "Simon Jones was not considered for this match as he has an injury to his left side and will undergo a further scan tomorrow (Monday) to enable us to assess how long he will be out for.
"Our resources in the bowling department have been stretched for this match and we have had to slightly vary our policy with regard to bowlers needing to play in a four-day match before a Test match to prove their fitness. "Alex Tudor did play in a Norwich Union (One-day) League match last week and we will give him every opportunity to prove he is fully match fit in the run up to the Test match. "With Simon Jones injured, we view Stephen Harmison as a like for like replacement who gives us the option of express pace if required."
England squad: Nasser Hussain (captain), Mark Butcher, Dominic Cork, John Crawley, Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles, Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Robert Key, Alec Stewart (wicket-keeper), Alex Tudor, Michael Vaughan and Craig White.