Cricket: Fordham to bridge the gap

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FOR those who may have forgotten, there is still some international cricket to be played this summer, and while Graham Gooch would undoubtedly prefer to give his undivided attention to Essex's faltering drive for domestic honours, he will be scratching his stubble this evening pondering on England's 13-man squad for three more Texaco Trophy games next week.

The problem with wheeling on the sweet trolley after such a satisfying main course is that it has less in common with a wafer-thin mint and a liqueur coffee than a basinful of spotted dick and custard. Gooch, for one, will not be deluded into thinking that winning the one-day trophy in any way compensates for losing the Test series.

With that in mind, England's thinking may not have much in common with their strategy for the two-match aperitif back in early May, when it was basically an exercise in adding a couple more names to the World Cup final XI.

However much they would like to turn 2-0 into 5-0, there is an unarguable case for experiment within the accepted formula of picking the best-equipped squad for the job. On top of which, a few fresh faces would help off-set the prospect of limited overs equating, on this occasion, to limited interest.

The best way of going about this might be to draw a line through the names of several of those picked for the first two games. Phillip DeFreitas, because he is still not 100 per cent fit, and, because their futures would scarcely represent a vision for the future, Ian Botham, Allan Lamb, Derek Pringle, Richard Illingworth and Gladstone Small.

Mark Ramprakash, who has so far failed to translate his talents at a higher level, may also go, but on the basis that he is almost certain to be taken to India, and his better record for England in this type of cricket, Graeme Hick will probably be retained. This would leave only six survivors from the original squad: Gooch, Alec Stewart, Chris Lewis, Robin Smith, Neil Fairbrother and Hick.

There will probably be a place for David Gower, despite his ambivalence towards this type of cricket, but this would still leave two batting vacancies. One of these could go to Northamptonshire's Alan Fordham, while the other could be used to refund the ridiculous pounds 1,000 docked from Gower's Ashes tour co-pilot, John Morris.

Whether Gower and Morris would have buzzed the ground had Devon Malcolm been bowling is a moot point, but while Malcolm has not entirely shed his reputation as a danger to low-flying aircraft, he bowled straight enough (and fast enough) at The Oval to be considered for the Texacos.

There are also a number of talented county bowlers who the selectors might care to examine in a big-match environment, among them Mark Illott, Dominic Cork and Andrew Caddick. Another emerging yougster, Jonathan Agnew, is thought to be unavailable.

POSSIBLE XIII: G A Gooch (capt), A J Stewart (wkt), A Fordham, R A Smith, D I Gower, N H Fairbrother, J E Morris, C C Lewis, D G Cork, A R Caddick, I D K Salisbury, M C Illott, D E Malcolm.