Brown swings into favour


It is not often that England's selectors turn towards the unfashionable in order to bolster their side, particularly after the settling effect of a series win. However, perhaps mindful of the lack of penetrative swing among the pace bowlers, that is precisely what they have done by picking Simon Brown, Durham's left-arm opening bowler, for Thursday's first Test against Pakistan.

Casting their eyes North-eastwards was perhaps the only surprise in an otherwise predictable selection meeting that saw Nick Knight recalled, though only as cover for Nasser Hussain, whose injured finger is still causing concern. Graeme Hick survives, but with the Sussex leg-spinner Ian Salisbury again included, there is no place for Min Patel or Middlesex's Phil Tufnell as England once again go to Lord's relying on seam rather than spin.

"We are not unduly worried about playing two left-armers," Ray Illingworth, the chairman of selectors, said. "We have thought about it and they are two different types of bowler. Brown certainly swings it more than [Alan] Mullally and we could bowl them at different ends without it being a problem."

Recognition has been a long time coming for Brown, now in his fourth season for Durham. Having previously spent four lean years with Northamptonshire, he has since become a model of consistency, twice topping the 50-wicket mark since his departure.

In truth, as this season's leading wicket-taker with 56 victims, his selection ought to surprise no one, and his ability to consistently swing the ball into right-handers has long been an asset lingering in the minds of the selection panel. As a native of Sunderland, his selection will at least give Durham's beleaguered supporters an excuse to crack open a case of brown ale.

But at the age of 27, he is no longer a promising youngster, though with 435 first-class overs in the bag already this season - an amount only Tufnell has topped - he retains both an exuberance and a work-rate that would shame most younger men.

In that respect he is similar to the Essex left-arm swing bowler and stalwart JK Lever. Like Lever, Brown may find he is destined to be stuck in the limbo land that exists between Test and county level, where his ability to swing the ball certainly brings him wickets, though at a relatively expensive cost. As many of England's swing bowling hopefuls have found, a swinging half-volley at Test level is nowhere near as lethal as its counterpart around the shires.

Having bruised his foot missing a yorker against Worcestershire, he is one of three players, along with Chris Lewis (strained groin) and Hussain, who are currently nursing injuries. Lewis, who injured his groin while trying to make his ground batting, is thought not to be serious, but as no one can be sure, least of all the player himself, Darren Gough remains on standby lest the shiny-headed one decides to take another sabbatical.

Hussain, despite oxygen tents and the urgings of a nation, is even less certain to play, and his finger was still too sore to be risked yesterday in Essex's Sunday League game against Nottinghamshire. It means that unless Hussain makes significant improvements over the next three days, Knight will return to open the batting with Atherton, with Alec Stewart dropping to No 3.

However, with Mark Ealham continuing at No 6, England will be facing potentially one of the most lethal bowling attacks in world cricket without an extra batsman. It is a position Ray Illingworth has wanted all along, but with Graeme Hick out of sorts, it is a bold risk to take in the first of a three-Test series and one the selectors probably would not have been taking had Hick not scored a big hundred last week.

Even so, unless Hick is battling with demons more serious than those usually found within sport, his repayment for their loyalty is long overdue and, depending on his state of mind, he could be either at the end of the batting or the beginning of the tail, particularly if Wasim and Waqar are able to legally achieve their usually lethal reverse swing.

Mind you, with the inclusion of Salisbury, England's batting continues to lengthen and although the pitch at Lord's traditionally offers little help for the spinner, Salisbury's wickets ensured a tense finish the last time these two teams met at HQ. On that occasion he dismissed Javed Miandad and Salim Malik in rapid succession as England narrowly failed to win one of the most gripping matches of recent years.

ENGLAND (v Pakistan, first Test, Lord's, 25 July): M A Atherton (Lancashire, capt) age 28 caps 59, A J Stewart (Surrey) 33 55, N Hussain (Essex) 28 10, G P Thorpe (Surrey) 26 29, G A Hick (Worcestershire) 30 45, M A Ealham (Kent) 26 1, R C Russell (Gloucestershire, wkt) 32 47, C C Lewis (Surrey) 28 30, D G Cork (Derbyshire) 24 13, A D Mullally (Leicestershire) 27 3, I D K Salisbury (Sussex) 26 7, N V Knight (Warwickshire) 26 3, S J E Brown (Durham) 27 0.

footballHe started just four months ago
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect