Cricket - England look for improvement

England will go into their two-Test 'rematch' with New Zealand under no illusions that a significant improvement is expected after their disappointing 0-0 stalemate in the away leg.

PA Sport
Cricket - England look for improvement

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Graeme Swann is set to return for England

National selector Geoff Miller made that much clear on Saturday morning, in the England and Wales Cricket Board's own press release to accompany the announcement of a 12-man squad for the first Test at Lord's. Miller, who also told that England are "thrilled" with the outcome of the elbow operations which have allowed Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan to return in time to face the Kiwis next week, hopes Alastair Cook's team have "learned from their experiences" in New Zealand.

"We are anticipating another very competitive series against New Zealand and know that we will need to improve significantly on our performances in the recent Test series against them if we are to start the international summer on a positive note," he said.

"This series provides a good opportunity for the players to show that they have learnt from the experiences over the winter."

Swann and Bresnan, of course, were not in attendance for the three Tests in New Zealand two months ago.

The off-spinner and seamer both last played Test cricket in the series-clincher against India in Nagpur in December. Bresnan underwent surgery on his bowling arm, after England announced he would be rested for New Zealand, and it was decided on the eve of the first of those matches in Dunedin that Swann would also need an operation in the United States.

Both bowlers have been back in action for their counties this summer, and their return to the England reckoning is as expected.

"They obviously had these problems, and the operations have been a 100% success, so we're thrilled about that," said Miller.

The remainder of Alastair Cook's squad, announced by the England and Wales Cricket Board, is also predictable. The same six specialist batsmen who featured in England's last Test - the drawn match in Auckland two months ago - remain, in the continued absence of the injured Kevin Pietersen.

Swann replaces his fellow spinner Monty Panesar, and England have resisted the belt-and-braces policy of naming an extra seamer - as they did before the first Test against West Indies this time last year, when Graham Onions was included.

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