Cricket: England reach the peak of precaution

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The Independent Online
THE Test and County Cricket Board's treasurer must be profoundly thankful that the final three Texaco Trophy matches were all sold out before England picked their 13-man squad. It is a selection so pitifully short of vision and enterprise that the next step will be to take a leaf out of golf's book and start up a seniors' tour.

There is even an element of default about the single selection that bears any resemblance at all to forward planning, in that the Derbyshire all-rounder, Dominic Cork, owes his inclusion to the withdrawal, on fitness grounds, of Derek Pringle.

Pringle's absence at least makes it easier for spectators to make it through until Thursday morning without the danger of expiring through over-excitement. The prospect of watching such charismatic bowlers as Gladstone Small, Dermot Reeve and Richard Illingworth is enough in itself to set the pulse racing at dangerously high levels, but Pringle as well could have been just too much.

Ted Dexter, the chairman of the England committee, popped up with a few comments on the squad yesterday, which is a triumph in itself. Lord Ted, who might as well be known as Lord Lucan for all the times he breaks cover nowadays, is still banging on about what a wonderful job the lads did in the World Cup. So they did, but Denis Compton also scored a lot of runs in 1947, and (at the risk of putting ideas into Dexter's head) he was not picked for the Test matches.

Dexter's attempt to convey that this is a flexible squad (by hinting that if England should wrap up the series 3-0 by winning at Trent Bridge on Thursday, a little more experimentation might be in order) did not suggest either that his role as English cricket supremo involved careful scrutiny of the domestic fixture list. By the time the game is scheduled to end at Nottingham, approximately 180 county cricketers will be en route to the seven Championship matches starting on Friday morning.

The selectors cannot be faulted for acknowledging the different demands of one-day cricket, which is why David Gower, Michael Atherton and Mark Ramprakash lose their places among the batsmen, and are replaced by Allan Lamb, Neil Fairbrother and Graeme Hick.

Neither should one quibble if Ian Botham's inclusion is a vehicle for giving England's finest all- rounder a final curtain call in this country. As far as looking to the future is concerned, however, Botham has already made himself unavailable for the winter tours to India and Sri Lanka.

Phillip DeFreitas, who has missed the last two Test matches with a groin strain, is included in the squad, and Micky Stewart, the team manager, was yesterday reported to be 'satisfied' with his fitness.

As Stewart was at Hove yesterday, specifically to watch DeFreitas bowl in Lancashire's Sunday League game against Sussex, this comment needs to be treated with as much caution as the selectors took with them into their latest meeting.

----------------------------------------------------------------- ENGLAND SQUAD ONE-DAY AVERAGES ----------------------------------------------------------------- BATTING ----------------------------------------------------------------- M I NO Runs HS 100s 50s Ct St Ave I T Botham (Durham) 113 104 15 2049 79 - 9 35 - 23.02 P A J DeFreitas (Lancashire) 75 49 18 489 49* - - 21 - 15.77 N H Fairbrother (Lancashire) 26 24 6 750 113 1 6 13 - 41.66 G A Gooch (Essex) 109 107 6 3984 142 8 23 36 - 39.44 G A Hick (Worcestershire) 18 17 3 515 86* - 5 10 - 36.78 R K Illingworth (Worcestershire) 13 4 2 36 14 - - 8 - 18.00 A J Lamb (Northamptonshire) 119 115 16 3937 118 4 25 31 - 39.76 C C Lewis (Nottinghamshire) 28 17 3 133 33 - - 11 - 9.50 D A Reeve (Warwickshire) 13 7 5 112 31* - - 6 - 56.00 G C Small (Warwickshire) 52 24 9 98 18* - - 6 - 6.53 R A Smith (Hampshire) 44 43 6 1381 128 2 9 17 - 37.32 A J Stewart (Surrey) 38 33 4 922 103 1 5 25 2 31.79 ----------------------------------------------------------------- BOWLING ----------------------------------------------------------------- O M Runs W Best 5w Econ Ave I T Botham 1013.1 107 4022 143 4-31 - 3.97 28.12 P A J DeFreitas 704.1 89 2732 84 4-35 - 3.88 32.52 N H Fairbrother 1 0 9 0 - - 9.00 - G A Gooch 324.2 26 1423 36 3-19 - 4.38 39.52 G A Hick 24.4 0 114 4 2-7 - 4.62 28.50 R K Illingworth 129.1 6 530 16 3-33 - 4.10 33.12 A J Lamb 1 0 3 0 - - 3.00 - C C Lewis 209.4 15 934 32 4-30 - 4.45 29.18 D A Reeve 68.4 9 234 13 3-20 - 3.40 18.00 G C Small 460.2 33 1914 57 4-31 - 4.15 33.57 D G Cork (Derbyshire) has not played in one-day Internationals ----------------------------------------------------------------- TCCB / Bull Cricket Statistics -----------------------------------------------------------------

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