Warwickshire's Alex Loudon and Hampshire's Shaun Udal are the two surprises in England's 17- strong squad for the three Test matches in November against Pakistan.

Chairman of selectors, David Graveney said that they had identified the talent of 25-year-old Loudon as an exciting one for the future, and so wanted him to see at close quarters what is needed to succeed at international level.

He did not go as far as to say that Loudon goes as a supernumerary, but the selection of 36-year-old Udal as second spinner behind Ashley Giles seems to indicate that, illness and injury apart, he will travel to make his first few steps on an international learning curve.

In his first season with Warwickshire this summer his 29 wickets have cost 43 apiece, with a best return of six for 92 against champions Nottinghamshire on a turning pitch. His 800 runs have come from 24 completed innings at an average of 33.

Udal last toured with England's one-day squad 11 years ago, but wins a place because of an outstanding season with Hampshire. He has taken 36 wickets at 20 and has captained the side well in Shane Warne's absence.

He is the sort who will fit easily into Team England's close-knit dressing room and, if only on a short term basis, will take over the tag of " oldest player in the side" from Giles.

Other points Graveney & Co had to resolve concern the choice of the second wicketkeeper and the fitness, or otherwise, of Simon Jones.

With Duncan Fletcher and Michael Vaughan solidly in favour of only picking the best glove man if he is close to being worth his place as a batsman, Graveney said: "The argument has raged for years, going right back to Jim Parks v John Murray when M J K Smith was captain 40 years ago; then it was Alan Knott and Bob Taylor and Alec Stewart vis- a- vis Jack Russell.

"Matthew Prior gets county hundreds more regularly than Chris Read, so that is the way we went for the sake of the balance of the side. As for Simon, everyone has to undergo a full fitness test within a couple of weeks, and we can assess his chances then."

As explained in this column yesterday, it all depends upon what sort of fitness test is planned.

Significantly, the squads for Tests and one-dayers are being drawn closer together, with 13 of the main 17 also named for the five one-day internationals.

The quartet who will return home are Loudon, Udal, Ian Bell and Matthew Hoggard. The main surprise in the 15-man one-day party is the omission of Darren Gough, who said he did not want to tour, but said he was not retiring from international cricket.

Even so, he was 35 yesterday and a World Cup in the West Indies in 18 months time seems to be beyond a man who has given everything for England over the last dozen years.

That lets in Liam Plunkett from Durham whose impressive form this year has attracted high praise from good judges. He and Vikram Solanki are the only two one-day selections who are not in the Test squad.

Graveney hinted that security "is an on-going issue for the tour, but we have heard nothing to from either the Foreign Office or our own security firm to suggest any real problem."

No families of the players will travel, and the series will be a back-to-earth exercise after the euphoric Ashes series, with small crowds and the three Tests played on surfaces which always test the patience of tourists.

Forget the romp along tempo of the last two months, together with the uplifting interplay with 18 consecutive sell-out capacity crowds. Instead, the series will be a grind under hot and dusty conditions, with evening entertainments self made.

England need to win the series to advance their claim to the No 1 spot in world rankings - a position only achievable if they win in Australia next winter.