England ended last season snatching numero uno tag from India, quite convinsingly. They played 8 tests in 2011, won six of them besides drawing other two but this year in 2012, they'll be fighting 15 battle, trying to hold onto their crown..
First up, is challenge against Pakistan in Middle East where contidions are inverserly proportional to what English team is habituated to. Pakistan, on other hand, are playing some good cricket and made a den in UAE where they're yet to lose a test series since restarting ties couple of years ago, drawing with South Africa and beating Sri Lanka.
Andrew Strauss will captain England and will resume his high profile opening partnership with vice captain Alastair Cook. Pakistan have some fine fast bowlers who'll make Strauss and Cook's job no easy.
Jonathan Trott has proved his metal around the world but his technique will be tested in sub-continent, against world class spinner. Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell will complete the middle order and both have experience of playing in Asia, so they should be fine.
Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara are two talented batsmen competing for the no.6 slot.
Matt Prior proved in last season that he's now a complete allrounder now, safe as house behind the wicket and reliable in front of it, scoring three figure scores whenever the need be. Can he continue on?
Steven Davis, the Surrey gloveman, has got the reserve keeper's slot.
Bowling is trick to be a good test match team and England's fast bowlers have done the job admirably in recent times but pitches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are as flat as it gets, breaking bowlers backs. James Anderson bowled fuller length fantastically against India but he'll need to show patience in UAE while Stuart Broad will have to pitch the ball little further up to what he's used to.
Steven Finn bowled very quickly on ODI tour to India and if he can keep up the pace, wicket will come but what special does Tim Bresnan has to trouble batters on unresponsible pitches?
Chris Tremlett is a lanky fast bowler who missed home series against India due to injury but he's now fit and his steep bounce will be useful for the visitors.
This Pakistan series will also be a test for Graeme Swann who couldn't do much against India on away series. There will be some turn for the offie but slow and home team batsmen play spinners very well. Monty Panesar, the left arm spinner, has got the node after good showing in county circut last season.
England test squad for Pakistan series in UAE, 2012Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook (v.c), Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara, Matt Prior (wk), Steven Davies (wk), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn and Monty Panesar plus Graham Onions (added as bowling cover).