Cricket: England in danger of succumbing to one-day success

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The Independent Online
PAKISTAN may have made off with the cake, but it is odds-on England to deprive them of the icing. Having already taken the first two one-day internationals back in May, the home team will render the last two irrelevant if they win at Trent Bridge today.

However, given that winning the Texaco Trophy is not likely to spark off an orgy of street parties and ticker-tape processions, England might be better advised in the future trying as hard as they can to lose it. This threatens to be the fifth consecutive single- tourist summer in which the team winning the one-dayers, England, has failed to win the Test series.

Neither should the fact that all five Texacos will be played in front of capacity audiences necessarily be cause for national rejoicing. England now stands alone in being able to put as many bums on seats for Test matches as the one-dayers, and unless they can offer the punters more success in the purer form of the game (starting with the Australians next summer) this may not always be the case.

The 1993 Ashes series will once again embrace a sixth Test match instead of two extra one-dayers, although the swag from this summer's Texaco takings cannot fail to tempt the Test and County Cricket Board to reverse the equation for less attractive visitors. It is now the norm for other countries to stage more one-day internationals than Tests, and the split will be 5-3 when England tour India this winter.

The lengthening tentacle of the one-day international is well illustrated by the fact that England, in the likely event of their omitting Dominic Cork and Gladstone Small, will have 596 appearances between them. On the other hand, such is the one-day glut overseas, that Pakistan will have close on 900 even if, as seems likely, their wicketkeeper-batsman Rashid Latif plays his first game today.

Javed Miandad, the captain, is scheduled to make his 197th appearance in a one-day international if he is fit. Javed has been receiving treatment for a long-standing stomach complaint, and he has also been filing complaints of a litigous nature for comments he has found hard to stomach.

Writs are reported to be on their way to any newspaper that has suggested malpractice this summer, in particular over the suggestion that the method employed by Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis to make a cricket ball bend, is in fact bent. At The Oval, however, the umpiring scrutiny could scarcely have been more intense, and no evidence of ball-tampering was found.

As the ball is usually 50 overs old before Wasim and Waqar make it swing violently, today's 55-per-side formula would appear to suit England's batsmen very well. However, Waqar removed even this comforting thought by demolishing England's second innings with a brand new ball at The Oval.

Furthermore, when England were compiling their match-winning totals of 278 and 302 in the first two one-day internationals, Waqar was not playing, and a half- fit Wasim figured in only the first of them. If these two can re-psyche themselves after the Test series, England may be hard-pressed to win the Texaco even from two up.

England's strategy for winning revolves around a nostalgic reunion of the World Cup squad and a continuation of the theory that players who do a bit of everything are the key to one-day success. Pakistan, on the other hand, won the World Cup final with specialists, and by the novel method of bowling to get people out.

Graham Gooch, as ever, will be giving these games his best attention, despite the suspicion that he would rather be helping Essex's challenge for the County Championship. Derek Pringle is doing precisely that, which makes his unavailability for England, on fitness grounds, appear a trifle curious.

The Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan confirmed yesterday that writs for libel would be issued today against the Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Mirror. 'The board, the tour management and the players have been reluctantly forced to take this action to set the record straight and repair the damage done to the integrity and reputation of the individual players concerned and the image of cricket in general,' Shahid Rafi, the board secretary, said.

ENGLAND (from): * G A Gooch, A J Stewart, R A Smith, N H Fairbrother, A J Lamb, G A Hick, I T Botham, D A Reeve, C C Lewis, R K Illingworth, P A J DeFreitas, G C Small, D G Cork.

PAKISTAN (from): Aamir Sohail, Ramiz Raja, Salim Malik, * Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Asif Mujtaba, Wasim Akram, Rashid Latif, Waqar Younis, Mushtaq Ahmed, Aqib Javed, Naved Anjum, Ijaz Ahmed.

Umpires: D R Shepherd, B Duddleston.

Ron Allsopp, County reports,