Miller backs England to retain Ashes
Geoff Miller is confident he has helped to pick a squad of match-winners for Australia, ready to emulate Mike Gatting’s Ashes tourists of 1986-87 - the last ones to come home with the prized urn.
National selector Miller yesterday announced a 16-man party to try to retain the Ashes, won on home soil last summer.
The squad was most notable for the inclusion of Chris Tremlett and Monty Panesar as extra bowling options.
The Surrey fast bowler and Sussex left-arm spinner therefore have the opportunity to revive stalled Test careers.
They will do so, under the captaincy of Andrew Strauss, alongside a group of players Miller is convinced will do their country proud.
Asked if his squad is as strong as Gatting’s, Miller was at first equivocal - and then definite.
“That is the million pound question,” he began. “But yes I do (believe it). Why shouldn’t it be?
“There are some quality players. It is a strong squad, and you have match-winners in there all the way down.”
“If they all perform to potential there is no reason why we can’t retain those Ashes.”
Tremlett’s first season with Surrey has seen him take 48 LV= County Championship Division Two wickets, and just as importantly, stay fit since May.
The 6ft 7in seamer is thought tailor-made, along with the even taller Steven Finn, for Australian pitches.
The man himself believes he has got his mind as well as his body right this year.
“From experience, I’ve thought about it [a Test return] too much at the wrong times,” he said.
“I’ve gone back to Hampshire and not concentrated on my job. I’ve thought about it too much and tried too hard at times to get wickets.
“I’ve not thought about it this time; I’ve just found a way of doing it this season.”
Tremlett insists he is a better, and happier, bowler than he was when he last played for his country in 2007.
“The biggest thing is the enjoyment. Last season I stopped enjoying it a little, and that’s why I felt I needed a fresh start.
“I’ve loved every minute with Surrey. The team’s had its ups and downs, but the boys and the coaching staff have been great. I think my confidence is as high as it’s ever been.
“Getting through a full season without an injury is a big ‘positive’ - I don’t think I’ve ever got through a full season before.
“I feel I’m a much better bowler than a couple of years ago. I hope to take that form over on the plane and go from there.”
Tremlett is included in a pace quintet populated by Finn, Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Tim Bresnan - the latter at the expense of Ajmal Shahzad.
Bresnan’s fellow Yorkshireman will be flying to Australia too, initially as cover for the full squad before the England Performance Programme - in which he was chosen yesterday - arrives.
Miller said: “Ajmal was very disappointed, and I would expect players to be disappointed when they are not selected.
“But there were areas that he needed to develop, where we felt he wasn’t quite right. Tim got the nod.”