Cricket: Border 'disappointed' by McCague's decision: England's choice of 'Australian' bowler still attracting criticism as Test opener cements place with impressive run of form

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ALLAN BORDER weighed into the debate over Martin McCague's inclusion in the England squad for the third Test yesterday by supporting the Australian Cricket Board's stance on the issue.

Border said: 'To me, he's an Australian. England could now have a New Zealander in Andy Caddick opening the bowling from one end and an Aussie coming in from the other. It takes the gloss off an Ashes Test for me. It's a bit disappointing that he's chosen to play for England, but he's eligible so good luck to him.'

However, McCague, the Irish-born but Australian-raised paceman, chosen to add aggression to England's attack, insisted: 'I don't think I owe Australian cricket anything. I feel English.' McCague, 24, who spoke after finishing his first net session with England, is aware of the controversy his selection has caused in Australia.

Graham Halbish, the chief executive of the Australian Cricket Board, intends to raise the matter at next week's International Cricket Council meeting at Lord's. Halbish feels that Australia's 'considerable investment' in McCague in terms of time and money has been wasted and the Australians want a loophole in the ICC qualification regulations closed.

McCague said: 'I'm entitled to make my career where I choose. I expected some opposition and I know some people in England are unhappy about it. The only way of winning them over is to grab wickets against Australia and show that I am giving 100 per cent for England.

'When I came over in 1991 to play county cricket I decided to make myself available for England. When you sign a contract with a county as an English-qualified player you automatically make yourself available. I know I played for the Australian Cricket Academy, and that it was there to promote young cricketers. But I regarded it as nothing other than a place to improve my game.'

McCague played two seasons for Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield, but failed to hold down a regular place in the state side's pace attack, and came to Kent to try his luck. 'I felt a lot more comfortable playing with Kent,' he said. 'I was made very welcome. Being picked for England is a bonus to go with playing for Kent.'

McCague, who is in the odd position of knowing the opposition, especially fellow Academy graduates like Brendon Julian and Michael Slater, better than his own team-mates, also has a slight strain in the lower back but is confident of being fit.

Alan Igglesden was able to bowl gently in the nets yesterday but is still having treatment for his back strain.

Chris Lewis, the discarded England all-rounder, had a difficult day yesterday. While some of his former England colleagues were assembling at Trent Bridge for the third Test, Lewis was appearing for Nottinghamshire's second team in a Bain Clarkson Trophy limited-overs match in Derbyshire. Although his 11 overs cost just 20 runs, he failed to take a wicket, and managed just 16 runs with the bat.