Cricket: Caddick waiting for the summons: Champions to provide a test for England understudies

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TED DEXTER will be at Chelmsford over the next few days, reviewing the reserves. England A meet the county champions, Essex, and Dexter and his selection committee will be hoping for suitable performances to give credibility to any changes they plan to make in a team who limped home from India and Sri Lanka trailing clouds of dust and dismay.

The question is: how many of these particular reserves are confident and successful enough to displace the veterans of Calcutta and Madras? If Dexter's committee are honest with themselves and do not bow to public clamour, the team who meet Australia in the first Test at Old Trafford in June will not look remarkably dissimilar from those who toured India.

It may be that England have every intention of starting the series, arguing that a home rubber against Australia is as different to a visit to India as a camel to a kangaroo, with most of their winter tourists, making changes only when it is clear whether the apparent disintegration of the team is an abberation or permanent.

This fixture, then, is one for reference rather than instant decision. If Gooch lays waste the A attack, led by Caddick, Cork and Taylor, to reach his 100th century, then the bowlers, spinners Ian Salisbury and James Boiling apart, can dream of the third Test at Trent Bridge rather than Manchester. Similarly, only a big, fast, innings by Mark Lathwell is likely to disturb the England batsmen.

What many of us would have liked to have seen was an A team of players experienced enough to be promoted yet not so far considered: batsmen like Alan Fordham and Peter Bowler, wicketkeeper Colin Metson, plus bowlers Robert Croft, Shaun Udal and Andy Afford.

Threee quick bowlers, Martin McCague, David Millns and Syd Lawrence, might all have been named but for injuries. Andrew Caddick and Paul Taylor have a great opportunity, because the only near-certainty about the selection for Old Trafford, this before a ball has been bowled in anger, is that there will be a new seam bowler. Caddick is the man centre-stage.

ESSEX (from): G A Gooch (capt), J P Stephenson, P J Prichard, N Hussain, N V Knight, J J B Lewis, D R Pringle, M A Garnham (wkt), M C Ilott, T D Topley, P M Such, J H Childs, S J W Andrew.

ENGLAND A (from): M D Moxon (Yorkshire, capt), M A Roseberry (Middlesex), M N Lathwell (Somerset), J P Crawley (Lancashire), G D Lloyd (Lancashire), G P Thorpe (Surrey), D G Cork (Derbyshire), R C Russell (Gloucestershire, wkt), I D K Salisbury (Sussex), J P Taylor (Northants), A R Caddick (Somerset), J Boiling (Surrey).