Illingworth looks to his roots for Test squad

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The Independent Online
RAY ILLINGWORTH, the new chairman of England's cricket selectors, signalled a radical shift in thinking when he named his squad to play New Zealand in the first Test on Thursday.

Just six of the 17 players who toured the West Indies during the winter have survived. The policy of picking six specialist batsmen has been abandoned. All-rounders are back, and the bowling line-up could contain two spinners.

True to his roots, Illingworth has chosen a 13-strong squad with a strong Yorkshire feel, all three uncapped players in the party were born there. Craig White, 24, who will fill the all-rounder's role, and the left-arm spinner, Richard Stemp, both play for the county, but the wicket-keeper/batsman, Steve Rhodes, plays for Worcestershire.

The captain, Michael Atherton, dispelled rumours that Illingworth's approach was at odds with his own. 'A rift does not exist and I am very happy with the selection,' he said, although he added: 'The Yorkshire lads have come in very much with the recommendation of the other selectors - I haven't seen much of them myself. But the selectors have seen much more cricket than the captain and we must have a fair degree of trust.'

Illingworth, who knows the captain-chairman relationship from the other side after his captaincy spell in the Seventies, said: 'There were discussions but no disagreements. The captain wants the best available side, and I think that is what we have picked.'

Martin Johnson, page 28