So the Ashes squad has finally been announced and as predicted and pleaded for here for most of the summer, it sees a return to England colours for Monty Panesar and Chris Tremlett.
Panesar was the most logical choice as back-up spinner to Graeme Swann as he offers a left-arm option, is a wicket-taker (unlike James Tredwell) and has experience of Australian pitches from the 2006/07 tour where he did reasonably well when he was finally picked. He probably won't get a game unless Swann gets injured as we can't see England changing their six batsmen-four bowler combination. However, he may get a look in at Adelaide or Sydney.
Tremlett is much more likely to play a part in the series, given that it is asking a lot for the three first-choice seamers Anderson, Broad and Finn to stay fit for five matches. Furthermore, if as expected Anderson proves to be ineffective on Australian pitches and takes none for a lot in the first two tests, then Tremlett could come in for Perth where he could prove extremely effective.
Tremlett has been a bit unlucky since he performed creditably in his three tests against India in 2007. Injuries, loss of form and a feeling that he wouldn't play if injured (even for a minor one like a broken finger nail) has held him back. But a switch to Surrey this season where he has taken 48 wickets in the championship at 20.18 means that he gets the nod over Ajmal Shahzad. In our opinion, it is Tim Bresnan who can consider himself lucky to get into the XVI ahead of Shahzad.
Elsewhere there were no surprises other than Adil Rashid missing out on the Performance Squad. This is a strange decision considering he took 52 wickets in the championship and also hit 732 runs at 45.75. If Ijaz Butt was asked to comment, he would probably say that it is a conspiracy against Yorkshire and Yorkshire cricket, and on this occasion he would probably be right.