English cricketers, Ravi Bopara and Monty Panesar, will travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with England in 2012, when the national team takes on Pakistan, from January 17. The fixture, which is being played on neutral ground, mirroring the arrangements for Pakistan's matches with neighbouring country, India, will be a three-Test series.
The development is part of a wider announcement detailing England's 16-player squad, which includes a number of staples, such as long-suffering captain, Andrew Strauss, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, and Kevin Pietersen. Bopara and Panesar are provided as relief batsman and second spinner, respectively. Those following the latest betting will be keeping an eye on things.
Panesar, a crowd favourite, will make his first appearance in a Test match since the Ashes in 2009, in the UAE. His performance in the County Championship is ostensibly the reason for England's newfound confidence in the Sultan; his "plate-sized hands", to quote ESPN, took 69 wickets during the 2011 season.
National selector, Geoff Miller, intimated that Monty could play a "very big part" in the upcoming Test series, while Bopara, who replaces Paul Collingwood, has "another opportunity to show his growth as a Test player".
Joining Panesar in Dubai will be James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Alistair Cook, and Steven Davies. Middlesex's Steven Finn and Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior, of Sussex fame, Surrey's Chris Tremlett, and Jonathan Trott, from Warwickshire, have also been handed their orders by the England brass.
Speaking about the finalised squad list, former cricketer, Geoffrey Boycott, said: "I don't think anybody expected any big changes". The 71-year-old added that he has "always liked" new-entrant, Panesar. "I'm sure he will get a chance to prove he can still be effective for England."