KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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England have named Eoin Morgan ahead of Ravi Bopara as the sixth batsman for the opening npower Test match against Sri Lanka in Cardiff.
Middlesex batsman Morgan got the nod ahead of Essex's Bopara after he scored an impressive 193 for England Lions against Sri Lanka in a warm-up match.
The decision ends speculation over who will replace Paul Collingwood in the England middle-order for the start of the 2011 summer.
Elsewhere, Chris Tremlett keeps his place in the squad as expected to compete with Steven Finn to play in a three man seam attack alongside James Anderson and fit-again Stuart Broad.
A side selected from the 12-man squad will take on Tillakaratne Dilshan’s new look Sri Lanka in Cardiff, starting on Thursday 26 May.
The team is likely to be similar for the second Test of the three match series which takes place at Lord’s, starting on Friday 3 June.
Most pundits had expected Morgan to lose out to Bopara for the final batting spot, despite the Irish-born cricketer having toured Australia last winter as the reserve batsman.
He played all six Tests against Bangladesh and Pakistan last summer – making a memorable 130 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge.
The 24-year-old spent the early stages of this season playing Twenty20 cricket in the DLF Indian Premier League while Bopara made a strong start in the LV County Championship for Essex.
His triumphant return to English cricket against the Sri Lankans appears to have swayed the selectors’ minds however, and Morgan now has a chance to secure his place.
England’s seamers will be hoping to continue where they left off during the victorious Ashes tour last winter.
Anderson struggled in the ICC World Cup on the sub-continent but is expected to put that blip behind him on his return to English conditions.
Broad is fit again following a difficult winter where he completed neither the Ashes series nor the Word Cup campaign.
They are supplemented by the 6’8" Tremlett whose extra bounce and hostility was a huge asset for England in Australia.
Sri Lanka have not played a Test match outside of the sub-continent since April 2008 and may find English conditions difficult to adjust to.
The pressure will be on all England's seamers though, with Team Director Andy Flower having hinted that he is prepared to rotate his rich seam bowling resources through the summer.
Graeme Swann continues to lead the spin attack and could be set to do a fair amount of bowling in Cardiff.
The pitch traditionally provides plenty of assistance for the slower bowlers and Swann is widely considered the best in the world.