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England search for Pietersen cover

Andrew McGlashan
May 2, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Tim Bresnan's successful return from injury is likely to earn him a recall © Getty Images
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England will reveal on Friday how they aim to cover for the absence of Kevin Pietersen in the Champions Trophy when their 15-man squad is named. As hosts, and with two years of solid ODI results, especially at home, they had been tipped as one of the favourites but Pietersen's loss removes a key part of their attacking armoury.

However, while missing someone of Pietersen's matchwinning ability is a significant blow England do know how to win without him in one-day cricket. After all, he retired from both limited-overs formats last year and England proceeded to beat West Indies and Australia then draw with South Africa at home. Their most recent victory, away to New Zealand in February, also came when Pietersen was rested.

Those series have allowed England to try other players, recently Joe Root, in the middle order and he is now set to start the tournament whereas he may have been pushed back to the sidelines had Pietersen been fit. For a player with recent scores of 182 and 236, plus an ODI average of 81.50, that is quite a thought.

Pietersen, however, is a unique batsman and was set to play a key role behind the solid, but undynamic, top three of Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott. The key aggressor's role will now be in the hands of Eoin Morgan, although Root has shown outstanding adaptability in the early stages of his career, while Jos Buttler is potentially lethal over a short period batting at No. 6. With two new balls, the tweaked fielding regulations and that the tournament is being held in June, still not high summer, teams could well look to power-packed middle orders.

The reserve batsman will be Jonny Bairstow, who can also provide wicketkeeping cover, and then it is the issue of No. 7. Tim Bresnan's successful return from elbow surgery - reports are his pace is back to somewhere near what it was in 2011 - means he is the favoured option for that position. Chris Woakes, though, continues to make a strong case and there could be room for both in the squad.

Depending on how many allrounders Ashley Giles wants, there may be an international recall for another Warwickshire player. Rikki Clarke is currently sidelined by a hamstring injury, but it is unlikely to be a long-term problem and his revival at Warwickshire, largely under Giles' leadership as coach before he handed the reigns to Dougie Brown, has made him a viable option. Luke Wright, who has impressed in Twenty20 cricket, is also on the fringes.

Another option for a utility player would be Samit Patel, although he has been more effective overseas, while if a specialist batsman was desired (but that would make the squad top-heavy) then Gary Ballance earned plaudits after the Lions tour to Australia which is no mean feat on a winless trip.

The specialist bowling positions largely fill themselves providing the selectors have no concerns over Graeme Swann's prospects following elbow surgery. James Tredwell, who has proved an excellent replacement for Swann, should be included as the second spinner.

Under Cook, England's one-day record is impressive. He has continued a run where England have not been beaten at home since losing 6-1 to Australia in 2009 while Cook himself has flourished into a commanding one-day batsman. He was a driving force in getting Pietersen back into all formats for England, but he also knows about winning without him.

Possible squad Alastair Cook (capt), Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes, James Tredwell, Rikki Clarke/Samit Patel

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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