Cricket: Jarvis relishing return to favour: Simon Hughes, in Calcutta, reports on a rejuvenated England fast bowler eager to exploit a second chance

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The Independent Online
SINCE the retirement of Fred Trueman in the late Sixties, the Headingley ground has resounded mostly to the whine of Arnie Sidebottom's appeals for leg-before or the hysterical barking of David Bairstow behind the stumps.

The Yorkshire bowling was miserly but ordinary and they had virtually to plead for their wickets. The pitches in the Ridings are not generally conducive to producing pace bowlers - on the average Saturday afternoon in the Bradford League you will find a collection of gnarled trundlers supplementing an imported quickie delivering 23 overs on the trot off a short run. Yet the shroud of overcast weather and industrial discharge helps their effectiveness.

The emergence of Paul Jarvis came like a bolt from the grey. At the age of 16, he was suddenly pitched into a Sunday League match and not long after his debut took a hat-trick, surprising people with his nip, though he often took a pasting as well. But gradually he allied accuracy to speed and the occasional clang of ball on helmet interrupted the cacophony of desperate yells from the fielding side. His inclusion in England's squad of 12 for the Test against India in Calcutta today represents a second chance at international level.

When Jarvis bowled Yorkshire to a rare Championship win at Lord's in 1986 with a succession of rapid break-backs which yielded match figures of 11 for 92, he seemed to have become the ideal commodity for England - a brisk seamer with plenty of stamina who was able to exploit juicy wickets. But it took the selectors two more years to pick him, by which time stress fractures, disillusionment and indignation at Yorkshire's inability to hang on to anyone resembling a decent pace man, had taken the cutting edge off his skills.

Beset by minor injuries he bolted for the financial security that the 1990 rebel tour to South Africa provided. With a Test bowling average of 50 from six appearances, his re-selection for the Indian tour was perhaps surprising, bearing in mind his hardly rippling return of 40 Championship wickets last season. 'He didn't really look as if he was trying too hard,' an England colleague said last week, observing Jarvis bursting to the wicket at the makeshift nets in Jaipur. 'Now he's got something to play for and he's bowling some pretty fast stuff.'

Basically, Jarvis, by his own admission, has grown up. 'I was a shade startled to be recalled so soon,' he said, 'and I realised it was make or break time.' So even at England's first practice session on tour he was first at the nets and brimming with vigour. The England hierarchy have been heartened by his enthusiasm and amenable nature.

Gooch likes the fact that he does not need a couple of looseners to get into groove, and errs on the side of bowling too full a length rather than too short. Most important, he bowls straight in the early overs, making the batsman play. He is sociable off the field and has even been heard to apologise for inflicting blows to a batsman's body. But beneath lies an aggressive streak. You only had to see the bouncer rifled at Navjot Sidhu that flew over batsman and wicketkeeper to the boundary last Monday, to realise that.

With a short, purposeful run-up, he springs to the wicket when in good rhythm, which he is at the moment, and a whippy arm and powerful shoulders propel the ball and himself rapidly down the pitch. He does not move the ball a great deal, beating the bat more often through pace than deviation, but that could be useful here, where the pitches keep low and the batsmen tend to whip across the line.

If Jarvis can retain his fitness, and there is every incentive for him to do so with Phillip DeFreitas sidelined with a groin injury, he will provide a hostile stability to augment Devon Malcolm's short thrusts and inspired spells from Chris Lewis.

(Photograph omitted)

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