Cricket: Selectors' choice of Headley holds back the Tudor era

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE TOUR selectors made one surprising but logical decision which was a success and another which was both foolish and predictable and did not come off. First, they gave the off-spinner's place, which had been earmarked for Robert Croft, to Peter Such and it worked a treat. Dean Headley took Alex Tudor's place and that did not.

Croft has not bowled well in Australia and the position of his feet in delivery is the main reason. Such, on the other hand, who had not bowled in a first-class match for a month, has kept at it in practice and has benefited from the advice of the former Australian off-spinner Ashley Mallet.

The selectors' intentions towards Croft were made plain when he was picked to play against Victoria last weekend but his wickets came to catches in the deep. No one knows more about Such than the manager, Graham Gooch. None the less, it was a risk I would not have expected these selectors to take.

Such did them proud. He bowled 16 overs before tea from the River Torrens End and picked up the wickets of Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh for 31 runs. His control was not quite so good in the evening of an intensely hot and debilitating day.

Such is, above all, a cheerful cricketer and to see him running in to bowl in those enormous boots and prancing round the outfield like a horse doing dressage did the heart good. If his line occasionally strayed too much to leg against the two left-handers, Taylor and Justin Langer, it was his only fault.

The selectors receive full marks for their imagination over Such, but none at all for their treatment of Tudor. He was thrown into the deep end at Perth, took five wickets in the match, showed more ability with the bat than all the other tail-enders put together, fielded well and displayed an ideal temperament.

One can only wonder what he felt when he found that he had been discarded for Adelaide. No matter what the honeyed words were that accompanied the bad news, it can only have given his confidence a knock and set him back. He will have been told that on this lifeless pitch he would not enjoy bowling and that his confidence could be terminally damaged by two hot days in the field and figures of 0 for 100.

I suppose it is too much to ask or expect the selectors to look on the bright side of things twice in the same meeting. Tudor is full of cricket; England are not going to win the series and this Test and the last two would have given him the opportunity to grow thoroughly accustomed to the Test scene.

His temperament is rock solid; just conceivably he might have given the Australian batsmen another shock and, if not, he has the character to take what comes to him. When he returns he will again feel a slight stranger in the dressing room when he should have been experiencing the warmth and comfort that continuity brings with it. Apart from that, Headley did not bowl very well.