LONDON // England have picked their former Test captain Michael Vaughan in a 25-man performance squad today from which the squad to contest the Ashes against Australia will be drawn. Vaughan, 34, captained England to a series victory over Australia four years ago but has not played internationally since stepping down from the role in August. But he was still given one of 12 central contracts by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and, despite being left out of the recent tour against the West Indies, joins Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen as former Test captains in an experienced squad.
"The selectors can name up to 30 players in the EPS (England Performance Squad), but we have decided to keep five places vacant at present in order to give ourselves greater flexibility," the national selector Geoff Miller said. "We will reserve the right to add further players to the squad if their performances in domestic cricket merit it." Yorkshire's 21-year-old spinner Adil Rashid is the only uncapped player in a squad that will also provide the team to play the West Indies in a two-Test series at home in May.
The remainder of the squad, which includes eight players who figured in the 2005 Ashes series, have at least played limited overs matches. Essex's James Foster was recalled as one of three wicketkeepers, almost seven years after his last Test appearance. The Lancashire paceman Sajid Mahmood may have the chance to improve upon his showing in the 2007 Ashes series - when England lost 5-0 in Australia - and the Danish-born Amjad Khan also made the line-up after playing one Test and one Twenty20 in the Caribbean.
"The England Performance Squad is designed to allow us to monitor the development of international players and better prepare them for the demands of the international game," Miller said. "In the case of someone like Amjad Khan, who impressed everyone when he joined the latter part of the Caribbean tour, it allows us to monitor his progress after injury." England performance squad: Tim Ambrose, James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff, James Foster, Stephen Harmison, Robert Key, Amjad Khan, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Sajid Mahmood, Monty Panesar, Samit Patel, Kevin Pietersen, Matthew Prior, Adil Rashid, Owais Shah, Andrew Strauss, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann, Michael Vaughan, Luke Wright.