Updated: 14/07/2012 13:21 | By pa.press.net

Little to ponder for Miller and Co



England are expected to welcome Ravi Bopara back into the Test fold

England are expected to welcome Ravi Bopara back into the Test fold

England's selectors meet on Friday to pick the players who will begin the defence of their number one Test status against nearest pursuers South Africa.

Thankfully for Geoff Miller and Co, there are relatively few variables to consider before plumping for the 12 who will be announced by the national selector on Sunday morning.

Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan's sore elbows are furrowing some brows and feeding fevered imaginations. But both have played for their country in the past two weeks, without apparent discomfort or mishap, and England have been at pains themselves to assure the world of their well-being.

It seems equally likely that England will make one obvious change, among the batsmen, in an otherwise settled side.

Jonny Bairstow's blooding as a Test cricketer resulted in 38 runs, from three completed innings, against West Indies and an apparent consensus that he may at present have a weakness against the short ball at the highest level. If so, England will not allow that complication to persist for a young player of such obvious talent.

But Bairstow's initial Test travails were enough to see him back on the periphery of the 50-over team, in a succession of NatWest Series victories over the Windies and then Australia.

His first-ball duck back in four-day cricket for Yorkshire on Thursday is an irrelevance - England coach Andy Flower has made it clear that this week's county performances will neither clinch nor squander a place in the Test team.

It seems nonetheless a probability that the 22-year-old will cede his number six spot to Ravi Bopara.

Bairstow's time will come again. But Bopara's, after a highly-encouraging string of contributions in the NatWest Series, is now.

He appeared a certainty to replace Eoin Morgan at the start of this summer, only to pull up lame for Essex on the eve of the squad announcement for the first Investec Test against West Indies at Lord's.

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