Cricket : England honour `heroes'

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The England selectors have announced an unchanged squad for this week's Lord's Test. After the stirring performance at Edgbaston, it was obvious that there was little that could be improved upon, and England will perm their final XI after assessing the pitch tomorrow.

According to the chairman of selectors, David Graveney, the decision- making, conducted entirely by mobile phone, "didn't take long". According to the chairman, England had "performed heroically" at Edgbaston, and heroes, like journeymen, need to be retained. By contrast Australia are desperately giving their latest acquisition, Paul Reiffel, every chance to be in form for Lord's, a chance the seam bowler appears to be taking with glee.

As a venue, Lord's has not traditionally been kind to the home side in Ashes encounters, a factor English players often attribute to the added spur of motivation given to visiting teams playing at the "home of cricket". There may be something in this, but it would have to be nearer tidal-wave proportions for it to even out the lead England are currently enjoying in the confidence stakes.

Much will depend on the pitch, which is traditionally prepared to promote the longevity of the match and not the bowling strengths of the home side. The strip being used is a relaid one and was used for last year's B&H final, though doubtless England would prefer it to be the one used for last September's NatWest, when Essex capitulated for 57. Or, at least, they would have done before Australia whistled up Reiffel.

According to his Middlesex colleague, Angus Fraser, the damp pitches have not particularly suited the spin of Philip Tufnell, who is about 100 overs light of last year's total by the second week in June. Unless it turns, Tufnell offers few attacking options and England will almost definitely stick with Devon Malcolm's pace and aggression.

With Adam Hollioake unlikely to play either, England could go into Lord's with an unchanged side, the first time this will have happened at home for 34 Tests. It is an astonishing statistic and one that further explains David Lloyd's repeated admiration for the confidence the new system has instilled.

One of the ideas has been to invite promising young players into the fold for a few days, in order to let them experience the cordite whiff of a Test match encounter without necessarily having to suffer the wounds. This time it will be the fast bowler Ashley Cowan who gets a closer look at that rarest of modern phenomena, an England side actually one up in an Ashes series.

Cowan has been among the wickets for Essex - if he is allowed to hang around for the match itself - Essex do not have a game this week - the atmosphere is far more likely to imprint itself on him than a one to one coaching session. While England are playing inspirational cricket, it is only right that the fledglings are inspired.

ENGLAND (v Australia, Second Cornhill Test, Lord's, Thursday): M A Atherton (Lancashire, capt) age 29, caps 68; M A Butcher (Surrey) 24, 1; A R Caddick (Somerset) 28, 12; J P Crawley (Lancashire) 25, 18; R D B Croft (Glamorgan) 27, 6; M A Ealham (Kent) 27, 3; D Gough (Yorkshire) 26, 18; A J Hollioake (Surrey) 26, 0; N Hussain (Essex) 29, 18; D E Malcolm (Derbyshire) 34, 37; A J Stewart (Surrey) 34, 64; G P Thorpe (Surrey) 27, 38; P C R Tufnell (Middlesex) 31, 27.

England Test squad averages

Batting

PLAYER M I No Runs HS Avg 100 50 C S

M A Ealham 3 4 1 134 53* 44.66 0 2 3 0

N Hussain 18 30 3 1167 207 43.22 4 3 17 0

A J Stewart 64 113 8 4491 190 42.77 10 22 92 7

G P Thorpe 38 68 6 2649 138 42.72 5 19 31 0

M A Atherton 68 124 5 5045 185* 42.39 11 32 48 0

J P Crawley 18 27 3 786 112 32.75 2 5 18 0

D Gough 18 25 4 346 65 16.47 0 2 8 0

R D B Croft 6 7 1 87 31 14.50 0 0 6 0

A R Caddick 12 19 2 213 29* 12.52 0 0 5 0

M A Butcher 1 2 0 22 14 11.00 0 0 4 0

P C R Tufnell 27 37 20 111 22* 6.52 0 0 11 0

D E Malcolm 37 53 18 224 29 6.40 0 0 6 0

Bowling

PLAYER Overs M Runs Wkts Avg 5W 10W Best

M A Ealham 95.4 25 252 10 25.20 0 0 4-21

R D B Croft 272.5 73 590 23 25.65 1 0 5-95

D Gough 656.4 126 2056 75 27.41 2 0 6-49

A R Caddick 510.2 100 1509 42 35.92 3 0 6-65

D E Malcolm 1351.2 242 4518 124 36.43 5 2 9-57

P C R Tufnell 1277.5 343 3105 82 37.86 4 1 7-47

M A Atherton 68.0 12 302 2 151.00 0 0 1-20

A J Stewart 3.2 0 13 0 - 0 0 0-0

G P Thorpe 23.0 7 37 0 - 0 0 0-0

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