Cricket: Forgiven Foster welcomed back into England fold: DeFreitas dropped as selectors make only one change in the squad to take on Australia in the second Test at Lord's

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The Independent Online
HAVING been referred back for a second opinion, the patient has not quite been given a full bill of health, but neither, in the opinion of the surgeons, is it necessary to reach for the scalpel and the rubber gloves. More a case of pop out your tongue, say 'ah', and you'll be OK to start back to work on Thursday.

The only change to the 12 at Old Trafford is the inclusion of Neil Foster in place of Phillip DeFreitas, and had Alan Igglesden, the original choice ahead of DeFreitas, not still been injured, there is a good chance that the original squad would have been rubber-stamped for the second Test at Lord's.

Foster returns after apparently waving goodbye to Test cricket four years ago when, during the match in which England waved goodbye to the Ashes at Old Trafford, he was named as a member of Mike Gatting's unofficial team to tour South Africa. After Gatting himself, John Emburey, and Paul Jarvis, Foster becomes the fourth of those subsequently banned players to return to the England team.

Now 31, and with more of his knees inside a surgeon's jar than underneath his flannels, Foster's selection is partly an investment in class, and partly recognition that the lion that adorns the England cap is currently less appropriate an emblem than a fireside tabby.

The Essex seamer is a practical cricketer, who took the kruggerrand in 1989 largely because there was no telling whether his knees would last another 10 years or another 10 minutes. A trade-off, was his unromantic description (non-guaranteed England career for guaranteed disability pension) but he none the less walked off the field at Old Trafford with tears rolling down his cheeks.

On the field, though, it is passion and commitment which epitomises his cricket, and a sizeable chunk of his England fee will be handed back today when Essex meet to decide on his punishment for booting over the stumps while bowling in a Championship game last week.

However, having identified the need for players with an Australian- like combative streak, there is strong evidence to suggest that the selectors have failed to identify the player who was most conspicuously without it at Old Trafford. DeFreitas might have bowled indifferently, but at least he ran in as though he meant it, which is more than can be said of Chris Lewis.

Lewis's retention for Lord's is, at best, an expression of faith that is scarcely warranted, and at worst, dereliction of duty. No one seriously doubts that Lewis has remarkable talent, but how he has escaped from Old Trafford with a pat on the back rather than a sharp boot in the rear is all the more curious given the alacrity with which this lot has previously thrown out class performers suspected of taking liberties.

David Gower's claims to a place in the top six have been ignored, as has the lobby for Jack Russell's return behind the stumps. After Old Trafford, Graham Gooch said that 'a left- hander might be a good idea', so we can speculate on the sort of dialogue that goes on at these meetings. 'Anyone got a good idea? Righto. In that case, would you kindly leave the room while the rest of us get on with it.'

Graeme Hick is expected to play in the second Test despite having a toe on his left foot cracked by a delivery from the Leicestershire fast bowler Winston Benjamin during Worcestershire's Championship match. He limped through yesterday's Sunday league game between the same sides. However, Australia's wicketkeeper Ian Healy is doubtful after chipping his right thumb during the match against Gloucestershire at Bristol.

ENGLAND SQUAD (for second Test v Australia, Lord's, starting Thursday): *G A Gooch (Essex, capt) age 39, Tests 102; M A Atherton (Lancashire) 25, 24; M W Gatting (Middlesex) 36, 73; R A Smith (Hampshire) 29, 41; G A Hick (Worcestershire) 27, 16; A J Stewart (Surrey, wkt) 30, 27; C C Lewis (Nottinghamshire) 25, 19; A R Caddick (Somerset) 24, 1; M C Ilott (Essex) 22, 0; P C R Tufnell (Middlesex) 27, 14; P M Such (Essex) 29, 1; N A Foster (Essex) 31, 28.

Tour match, Sunday league, page 28

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