England Ashes
England players celebrate after retaining the Ashes against Australia, August 25Reuters

England named three uncapped players in their 17-man Test squad for the Ashes series in Australia, including Zimbabwe-born Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance.

Irishman Boyd Rankin also got a call up along with Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes, while Monty Panesar also gets another shot after his recent trials and tribulations.

Tim Bresnan has not been named in the squad as he continues his rehabilitation from a stress fracture in his back.

Alastair Cook leads England again with the side looking to win their fourth straight Ashes series, something that no English team has achieved since 1890.

"We are fully aware that the Ashes series will once again be fiercely contested and that this squad will need to work extremely hard and play to a very high level to retain the Ashes and we believe we have selected a squad capable of doing just that," national selector Geoff Miller said.

"As we have seen in previous series we will need all members of the squad ready to step up and make vital contributions throughout the five Tests and we feel that all 17 players have the ability to do that.

"There is real competition for places with both bat and ball and we feel that we have provided Andy Flower and Alastair Cook with a well-balanced squad.

"Tim Bresnan has not been named in the squad and is continuing his recovery from a stress fracture in his back. He will travel to Australia with the squad to maximise his rehab opportunities with the medical team and coaches who will monitor his progress.

"Gary Ballance, Boyd Rankin and Ben Stokes have all come through the England Performance Programme in recent years and have put in strong performances for their counties and England teams to earn an opportunity to step into the Test environment."

Panesar, who will act as backup spinner to Graeme Swann, was released by Sussex recently after getting into trouble for urinating on a Brighton nightclub bouncer.

However, the left-arm spinner has found some form on loan at Essex and Miler believes it was the right time to give Panesar another chance.

"Monty had his problems which we have worked hard to rectify -- and he has worked hard to rectify -- in the last six weeks or so," Miller said. "There is a very strong management in that side to help with all aspects. He appreciates he has made errors and he is very sure those errors are behind him."

Balance, who will join a number of England players of Southern African heritage, admitted to being surprised at being named in England's Ashes squad.

"I wasn't expecting it and I was surprised when I got the call," he is quoted as saying by ECB's official website.

"I am looking forward to it. It will be a great lifetime experience. It will be an honour to represent England at the highest level and it will be extra special in an Ashes series."

England are due to fly to Australia on October 23, with the first Test scheduled to start on November 21 in Brisbane.

England squad: Alastair Cook (Essex) (Capt), Matt Prior (Sussex) (VC), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonathan Bairstow (Yorkshire), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Michael Carberry (Hampshire), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Monty Panesar (Sussex/Essex), Kevin Pietersen (Surrey), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire), Chris Tremlett (Surrey), Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire).