Cricket: Caddick's bounce to lift England

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The trout for the selectorial supper may have been a surprise, provided by England's captain and coach fly fishing in nearby Loughborough, but there were few others in a meeting that saw Andrew Caddick, John Crawley and Ronnie Irani all recalled to the England side for Thursday's second Test against Pakistan.

The form and fitness of Caddick, Somerset's tall but frail opening bowler, are not pegs anyone would readily hang their hopes upon. Yet when the peaks coincide, as they have of late, few can rival his disconcerting movement and bounce, qualities Raymond Illingworth and his panel of selectors are hoping will enable England to claw their way back into this series.

Caddick, whose last appearance for England was during Brian Lara's record- breaking knock in Antigua two and a half years ago, is undoubtedly the man in form, and he replaces Durham's Simon Brown, who looked out of his depth, despite first-match nerves.

With his painful shin injuries now seemingly behind him, Caddick is clearly back close to his bounding best, and his seven wickets in the game against Hampshire, were taken when others struggled to beat the bat. He also outbowled Darren Gough in a recent encounter, which probably explains why the Yorkshireman got no further than being considered, despite his ability to reverse-swing the old ball Pakistani style.

Essentially a very English-style bowler who hits the seam, Caddick's inclusion next Thursday will depend on the type of pitch the Headingley groundsman Andy Fogarty prepares, and all hints are that the mower blades have been raised.

Since the Test strip was relaid in 1993, Headingley has not been the banker England's bowlers have relied on to fill the opposition batsmen with dread. Gone is the seam bowlers' paradise, which usually saw the spinner dispatched before the team dinner and opponents before Monday lunch.

If Ian Salisbury is thought necessary to England's plans, then it will be Dominic Cork who will most come under pressure when England are forced to permutate three of the four seamers present. Barely a year into his Test career, Cork has lost his swing and both Chris Lewis and Alan Mullally are thought to be more on top of their game.

Gone, too, at least for the time being, is the flawed plan of dropping Jack Russell and handing the wicketkeeping duties over to Alec Stewart. Three days ago it was an option that Illingworth was giving serious consideration to; an option the other selectors apparently talked him out of over dinner.

In theory, there are no technical compromises and Stewart is an accomplished enough keeper to do the job. Instead, it was felt that Russell, after a good series against India, did not deserve to lose his place on the back of England's batting frailties at Lord's, which needed to be bolstered in other ways.

With that in mind, the selectors will have welcomed the return of Nasser Hussain, who along with John Crawley are two additions England are hoping will combat Pakistan's resurgent bowlers. Both are good players of spin and with Mushtaq Ahmed likely to operate from one end while Wasim and Waqar alternate from the other, England are looking for batsmen to take on the wrist-spinner.

That was the role envisaged for Graeme Hick, who has once again demonstrated his mental frailty against the big carnivorous fish found in the bigger pond of Test cricket. His twin weaknesses against both chin ball and swinging yorker, have left him disorientated against these opponents, and if those picked in his lieu take their chances, he may never resurface wearing England Test colours again.

Without Hick to fiddle a few overs, the selectors have brought back Ronnie Irani as the all-rounder, Mark Ealham having tweaked a rib muscle in Kent's game against Worcestershire.

However, although Irani gives the selectors the option of playing Salisbury along with three other seamers, it leaves them with the dilemma of which batsmen to leave out. With Stewart having had a splendid match at Lord's and certain to open at Headingley, it looks as if Knight might be the man to make way, should Irani play.

If he does not, Knight will probably bat at six, his left-handedness being seen as a hindrance to Waqar's lethal late inswing, which has so often proved the nemesis, not only for a right-handed middle-order, but whole teams. England must find a way to counter him before Wasim finds form and the series slips beyond repair.


(Second Test v Pakistan,

Headingley, 8-12 August)

Age Caps

M A Atherton (Lancashire, capt)

28 60

A J Stewart (Surrey) 33 56

N Hussain (Essex) 28 10

G P Thorpe (Surrey) 26 30

R C Russell (Gloucs) 32 48

C C Lewis (Surrey) 28 30

D G Cork (Derbyshire) 24 14

A D Mullally (Leics) 27 4

I D K Salisbury (Sussex) 26 8

N V Knight (Warwicks) 26 4

J P Crawley (Lancashire) 24 10

A R Caddick (Somerset) 27 8

R C Irani (Essex) 24 2