Cricket: England select new models for their fleet: Three fresh faces for Texaco series

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S selectors have come up with something of a two-stroke mixture for next week's Texaco Trophy series. There are three new models on the forecourt, but, more in keeping with their conservative nature, they have also wheeled out a couple of old bangers.

Surrey's 23-year-old left-hander Graham Thorpe, despite having made four A tours, is a newcomer to senior England selection, as are the Somerset pair of Mark Lathwell and Andy Caddick. Otherwise, the 13-man squad is built around experience and specialist expertise, and the selections of Richard Illingworth and Derek Pringle illustrate the essential negativity of this type of cricket.

Caddick, on the other hand, is one of those bowlers who have been brought up to aim at the off stump rather than some imaginary leg slip, and the selectors are running the risk of both breaking up his rhythm and depriving him of four more days of first-class cricket.

For this reason, Caddick's inclusion will not spark off celebrations in every part of Somerset, not least the coach's office at the County Ground in Taunton. Bob Cottam recently went so far as to go public over his opposition to Caddick's selection for the Texacos, and he may not be reticent about giving the selectors an earful if Caddick comes back to him minus an away-swinger and primed to bowl leg- stump blockhole balls.

Cottam was more receptive to the prospect of the 21-year-old Lathwell being chosen, with the proviso that, if he plays, he is allowed to build an innings in his normal position as opener. Lathwell is the best batting prospect in the country, and his ability to hit a high proportion of boundaries invariably helps an innings away to a fast start. If he plays, it would make sense for Graham Gooch to bat down the order, as he did in India.

Thorpe's inclusion will be some consolation for being part of Surrey's extraordinary Benson and Hedges Cup collapse on Tuesday after a personal contribution of 103, but given that the England coach, Keith Fletcher, last week identified fielding as his major area of concern, it is slightly surprising that there is no room for Mark Ramprakash. Ramprakash's supporters, like those of David Gower, will also have had their suspicions re-fuelled that something other than purely cricketing reasons enters the equation on these occasions.

The selection of Dominic Cork ahead of Dermot Reeve is an indication that the selectors are, refreshingly, looking longer term than the next few games, although it will be a disappointment to all three full-house crowds that Ian Botham has not been picked in his valedictory season. Strictly on form, it was hard to make a case for him, but these matches are as much about public entertainment as to who wins and loses, and Botham's presence would certainly have added more glamour to the occasion.

While Chris Lewis may never aspire to Botham's charisma, he proved beyond reasonable doubt this winter that he has the talent eventually to fill the great man's boots, and his fielding is probably worth 20 runs to England before he bats or bowls.

Illingworth's selection will disappoint those who consider it is possible to bowl attacking spin in these matches, as England would have learned from watching Ian Salisbury in Tuesday's Benson and Hedges Cup match. Salisbury, though, turned in this performance at Cardiff, where there is invariably a major prize on offer for spotting an England selector.

ENGLAND SQUAD (for Texaco Trophy one-day series v Australia; 19 May, Old Trafford; 21 May, Edgbaston, 23 May, Lord's): G A Gooch (capt), A J Stewart (wkt), R A Smith, G A Hick, N H Fairbrother, C C Lewis, P W Jarvis, D G Cork, G P Thorpe, A R Caddick, M N Lathwell, R K Illingworth, D R Pringle.

Benson and Hedges draw, page 37