Cricket: England stay loyal to Trent Bridge twelve: Injury denies Igglesden place for fourth Test as selectors rely on team spirit and resist temptation to call up specialist seamers for Headingley

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The Independent Online
WORKING on the reasonably safe assumption that Ian Botham's retirement announcement did not throw them into total disarray, England's selectors would have had one of their shorter meetings before announcing yesterday an unchanged 12 for the fourth Test match at Headingley on Thursday.

In the same way that the Wimbledon seedings committee has to decide whether to elevate lower-ranked players who are better suited to grass, the only minor headache was whether to go for a one-off bowling attack composed of Headingley specialists - the wobble-it-around, medium-pacer type such as Derek Pringle or Steve Watkin - as opposed to men for all surfaces.

However, the last time England laid special plans for Australia at Headingley, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh came close to fusing the electronic scoreboard, and an even bigger factor would have been what nowadays qualifies as a pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming element about England's performance in the last match at Trent Bridge, a hint of competitive spirit.

There would have been one change to the 12 if Alan Igglesden had been fully fit, but while Igglesden did turn out in Kent's last match, he did not give Ted Dexter an optimistic answer when the England chairman canvassed him on Saturday about his chances of remaining upright for five consecutive days.

Martin Bicknell, who was originally selected as cover for Igglesden at Trent Bridge, and latterly left out of the final XI, this time takes his place as a more pukka member of the squad, and the combination of his current form and his ability to swing the ball away from the bat gives him a decent chance of playing.

Bicknell has more or less done a Lord Lucan since being picked for England's Ashes tour of Australia two winters ago, when he failed to get into the Test side, and then had a long spell out of the game with a back injury. Bicknell is yet another in a long line of injury-prone England pace bowlers, which makes you wonder whether the super-fit Lilleshall routine is as sound as the old criterion for picking fast bowlers, a sightscreen-wide posterior and 10 pints a night.

However, England would be hard pressed to know who to drop to accommodate him here, despite the fact that Bicknell looks more ideally suited to Headingley than, say, Martin McCague. Graham Gooch sets a great deal of store by aggression and competitive spirit, and Australian batsmen, as we saw at Trent Bridge, are no keener on having balls nip past their nostrils than anyone else.

The closest England came to making a change was, in fact, in the batting line-up, and then only with an eye on the bowling. Graeme Hick was considered with a view to his off-spin, thereby making it easier for England to pick seven batsmen and four seamers, but Hick simply does not bowl enough for Worcestershire to make this a viable option.

Besides which, it would have meant dropping Mark Lathwell after only one Test, which would not have done a great deal for team spirit, and it would also be a surprise if the selectors were not at least a touch sensitive to how many overseas-born cricketers should be in the team at any one time. The likes of Glamorgan and Derbyshire, however, might still be of the view that it is better to be born abroad than play your cricket west of Taunton or north of Luton.

----------------------------------------------------------------- ENGLAND SQUAD TEST AVERAGES ----------------------------------------------------------------- BATTING ----------------------------------------------------------------- T I NO Runs HS 100 50 Ct St Ave M A Atherton (Lancs) . . 26 49 1 1617 151 3 11 24 - 33.68 A R Caddick (Somerset) . .3 6 1 80 25 - - 2 - 16.00 G A Gooch (Essex) . . . 104 189 6 8017 333 19 42 97 - 43.80 N Hussain (Essex) . . . . 4 7 1 218 71 - 1 1 - 36.33 M C Ilott (Essex) . . . . 1 1 0 6 6 - - - - 6.00 M N Lathwell (Somerset) . 1 2 0 53 33 - - - - 26.50 M J McCague (Kent) . . . .1 1 0 9 9 - - 1 - 9.00 R A Smith (Hampshire) . 43 80 14 3139 148* 8 22 30 - 47.56 A J Stewart (Surrey) . . 29 54 4 1839 190 4 9 37 4 36.78 P M Such (Essex) . . . . .3 5 2 34 14* - - 2 - 11.33 G P Thorpe (Surrey) . . . 1 2 1 120 114* 1 - 2 - 120.00 M P Bicknell (Surrey). . has not played Test cricket. ----------------------------------------------------------------- BOWLING ----------------------------------------------------------------- O M R W BB 5w 10w Econ Ave M A Atherton. . . . . . 61 11 282 1 1-60 - - 4.62 282.00 A R Caddick. . . . . . .111 23 350 5 3-32 - - 3.15 70.00 G A Gooch. . . . . . 391.3 110 920 22 3-39 - - 2.35 41.81 M C Ilott. . . . . . . . 52 13 152 4 3-108 - - 2.92 38.00 M J McCague. . . . . . 51.3 11 179 4 4-121 - - 3.47 44.75 R A Smith. . . . . . . . .4 2 6 0 - - - 1.50 - P M Such. . . . . . . 143.3 34 344 12 6-67 1 - 2.39 28.66 * denotes not out TCCB Official Cricket Statistics ------------------------------------------------------------------------ FIRST TEST (Old Trafford): Australia won by 179 runs. Second Test (Lord's): Australia won by an innings and 62 runs. Third Test (Trent Bridge): Match drawn. Fourth Test (Headingley): 22-26 July. Fifth Test (Edgbaston): 5-9 August. Sixth Test (The Oval): 19-23 August. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

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