Cricket: Simon Hughes's squad guide

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GRAHAM GOOCH

Age: 39 Caps: 99

Approaching 40 but no sign of appetite diminishing either for run- making or eating sweets - the reason he still incessantly pounds the streets after hours. Has developed an almost complete contempt for spinners - mauls them mercilessly - but much better at utilising them as a bowling resource. His gentle swingers may be a useful asset in India, his predilection for doughnuts may not.

ALEC STEWART

Age: 29 Caps: 22

Captain-elect when Gooch finally hangs up his runners. Verbally uncharismatic, but now a feared batsman with wide range and nimble footwork. First official trip to India, so may find food and way of life a little disconcerting initially.

MIKE ATHERTON

Age: 24 Caps: 21

Phlegmatic, assured opener. Self- effacing nature belies fierce desire. Rather one-paced batsman, ideal Test opener but needs more flamboyant partners. Excellent tourist, unselfish and broad-minded, good strategic input. Must talk himself on to bowl or his leg spin could become redundant.

ROBIN SMITH

Age: 29 Caps: 36

Having Gatting in the middle order will release pressure on Smith, but he is sure to continue batting with the same exceptional mixture of determination, power and habitual jigging. Occasionally tries to hit too hard, might find timing difficult on India's low skidders. Great team man.

MIKE GATTING

Age: 35 Caps: 68

Voracious appetite - for runs - continues unabated, will make a stack in India. Murders anything pitched fractionally short, occasionally undone by poor judgement of a run. Fitter than he used to be - eats more sensibly, swims regularly in own indoor pool. The best ball-polisher in the game.

GRAEME HICK

Age: 26 Caps: 11

Gleaned considerable confidence from the advice of an analyst and several pieces of butchery during one-day internationals in August. Definitely Test-class, but must force himself on to front foot more and play to his strength. Very fit, useful off-spinner, virtually commands a place on fielding alone.

NEIL FAIRBROTHER

Age: 29 Caps: 7

Had staccato season, burdened by county captaincy. Wristy, fleet- footed left-hander, should suit Indian wickets although may not make Test side. Good scrapper - likes adversity. Probably the best midwicket fieldsman in the world, with an aim like Eric Bristow.

RICHARD BLAKEY

Age: 25 Caps: 0

Surprise selection - exciting but fallible batsman, secure rather than sensational wicketkeeper. Plays blistering off-side shots. Sharp- eyed but technically suspect. Role is probably to supply quick-fire 40s in one-dayers. Dedicated.

JOHN EMBUREY

Age: 40 Caps: 60

Easily England's best off-spinner, still improving. At last is using the crease and aiming to take wickets rather than bowl maidens. Close relationship with Gooch, who is receptive to his ideas. The first of these may be that Emburey occupies the first-slip position, meaning he doesn't have to run much. Past his best with the bat but still capable of extraordinary shots.

PHIL DeFREITAS

Age: 26 Caps: 31

Looked jaded at the end of last season, a rest would have done him good. Can be over-bowled, better in shorter spells. Needs cotton-woolling to maximise his output. Likely to be England's best seam bowler on tour because of ability to make deliveries jag. Adds sting to any tail with the bat.

CHRIS LEWIS

Age: 24 Caps: 14

The team's enigma - undoubted talents but enthusiasm can wane. Has perennial ankle trouble. If he gets that out of his mind, he's a real handful with the ball. And the bat as well - capable of some of the longest hitting ever seen. The player Gooch finds hardest to motivate except in the field where Lewis is consistently brilliant.

DERMOT REEVE

Age: 29 Caps: 3

Lucky to be included at the expense of a third spinner, but a one- day favourite of the captain's. Purveyor of the loopiest slower ball in the world, and has plenty of variety. Versatile batsman, too. Reads run chases very well, pays great attention to fitness. Excellent cheerleader.

PHIL TUFNELL

Age: 26 Caps: 10

One of the most gifted spinners to play for England since the war. Bowls the proverbial 'ball on a string' which lures batsmen to their doom. Something of a schizophrenic, alternates between moods of high jinks and bouts of self-doubt. Bowling in tandem with Emburey will provide reassurance.

PAUL JARVIS

Age: 27 Caps: 6

Bouncy seam bowler able to generate considerable nip. Explosive, aggressive but injury-prone because rather fragile body. Good selection, but needs cajoling and favourable conditions.

DEVON MALCOLM

Age: 29 Caps: 21

Benefited from a Derek Pringle swing-bowling lesson in the summer, but still relies on raw pace - lacks consistent length. Bouncer is telegraphed, but fast rib-high ball can be awkward. Very unflappable except under a high catch.

PAUL TAYLOR

Age: 28 Caps: 0

Team rookie, but has already slotted in well. Muscly left-arm paceman who doesn't move the ball much, but is accurate and probing. Quicker than he looks, and handy because he provides a different angle of delivery. Very keen to learn, could be moulded into a fine performer.

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