Cricket: Caddick has a point to prove

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The Independent Online
Andy Caddick is aiming to leave two sets of selectors wondering whether they have made a big mistake when England launch their tour of New Zealand tomorrow.

The 28-year-old Somerset seamer left the country of his birth in 1990 because he believed he was making no progress up the Kiwis' cricketing ladder. And, for six weeks in Zimbabwe, Caddick must have experienced similar feelings as England ignored him for two Tests and three one-day internationals. Now, however, he is about to get the chance to turn back the clock just a little and start all over again.

With Dominic Cork on board once again after missing stage one of the winter following the breakdown of his marriage, the competition for pace bowling places is tougher than ever. But Caddick can expect at least two opportunities to prove himself a serious contender, first against an Academy XI in tomorrow's limited-overs match at New Plymouth and then again during the four-day meeting with a New Zealand Select side at Parlmerston North.

"I will be pretty fired up," he said. "There's a lot for me to prove and I'll be bowling with plenty of aggression. It was a bit frustrating not to get picked in Zimbabwe. All I can do now is get stuck in and show the selectors that they have to play me, then leave it in their hands."

Caddick took matters into his own hands when he decided to leave New Zealand and pursue a professional career in England. At that stage he had represented the Kiwis at under-19 level and been part of their Youth World Cup squad. With English-born parents, Caddick had an obvious alternative route.

Caddick is by no means the only England player desperate to prove he has a part to play in the big matches this winter. Cork cannot afford a slow start while Jack Russell, put out to grass in Zimbabwe almost from day one, needs to sparkle both in front of and behind the stumps. All three of them seem certain to play tomorrow, although England are unlikely to name the team until the morning of the match because of injury doubts over Robert Croft (sore foot) and Graham Thorpe (calf strain).

Their Academy opponents should not be as dangerous as the Australian Institute of Sport sides that beat Mike Atherton's 1994-95 side twice over a weekend at Sydney. But England, urgently needing to start this leg of the winter programme with a victory, dare not take any team lightly these days.