Cricket: Make or break: Crucial days ahead for four who must deliver

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The Independent Online
John Crawley

There Is so much to admire in Crawley's play that it is surprising he remains on the fringe of Test cricket. He has been in the side far more often than not in the past two years, has scored two centuries and averages 33, but still he has not revealed the breadth of his talent. In full flow with his drives and his neat footwork there is no more fluent player in England but, while he is resolute, he has too often looked edgy and fragile, as if unsure of his own gifts. He owes much to the selectors' admirable policy of continuity (dropped for the Oval win against Australia but not ditched). He could return from the tour as a Test batsman of the first rank.

Robert Croft

When the Glamorgan off-spinner played his first Test for England in August 1996 the impression was immediate. He could have been born for international cricket: enthusiastic, competitive, confident. It was bound to get harder and, although he ended the tour of New Zealand with seven wickets in the Third Test, he was out of the side by the end of summer. He took just eight wickets at 50-plus in five matches, and his naive batting was disappointing. But Croft is a fighter and he made a substantial contribution (53 wickets at 23) to Glamorgan's Championship. Given the pitches and a run, he could easily fulfil all that initial promise.

Ian Bishop

WITH his pace and away swing, the young Bishop looked not only a worthy and noble extension to the long line of thrilling Caribbean fast bowlers but also potentially its most prolific member. But a back injury robbed him of pace and two or three vastly profitable years. That he came back at all took guts and fortitude and although 158 Test victims at 23.72 speak of high achievement, his accumulation of wickets has been steady rather than spectacular. The disastrous recent tour of Pakistan was a hard personal slog, bringing just four wickets in three Tests. At 30, this could be his last chance to take a series by the scruff of its neck.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul

Guilty along with the rest of the batting in Pakistan, the left- hander from Guyana is not as adhesive as once he was - one score of 95 did not compensate for other cheap dismissals. Last winter's Australian tour, which first exposed West Indies' long-term shortcomings, found Chanderpaul suffering from a tendency which has afflicted him since his debut against England four years ago. He is full of doughty fifties - 15 in 39 Test innings - but there has been just one century, against India last March. Since he is still only 23, averages 48, and also bowls leg spin, he is hardly at a crossroads, but it is on his resolve that the middle order will stand or fall.

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