Cricket: Staging post for one-day wonders

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The Independent Online
AFTER England's 16-run victory in the first of the one-day internationals against the West Indies, it was all too easy to think that some, if not all, of the six players who had joined the main party for this competition, should have been here all along.

This, though understandable, is to confuse the two types of the game which draw ever further apart, as well as to trust hindsight.

The requirements for Test cricket are different from those for a one- day match where players have even more specific and sharply defined duties to perform.

No one would suggest Matthew Fleming or Dougie Brown as serious contestants for a Test place and yet they are admirable members of the one-day side. In a one-day international, both are able to bowl 10 accurate overs with the seam and they will pick up wickets as the batsmen search for runs.

Fleming's bowling in Championship cricket has been useful for Kent; in the limited over game it has been invaluable, especially at the end of the innings when the slog is on. The same applies to Warwickshire and Brown. In a Test with the opposition past 350 with only three wickets down they would not be the perfect answer.

Both field like tigers and in the lower middle order are capable of making those invaluable 20s and 30s which, at the end, turn a good total into a big one.

Nick Knight played wonderfully well in the first two games and he has ensured that he will be in the selectors' minds when they next pick a Test side. But he is still unproven at that level and it is impossible to say, even now, that he will take the final step up with ease.

This is also a stepping stone for Ben Hollioake, who has a prodigious talent and will surely play Test cricket for many years. He has to prove that he can temper this talent with discipline. He is a gloriously free- spirited young man, who has to guard against being too wasteful.

Mark Ealham is another for whom this is a staging post. He was not well treated as a bowler in his short Test career by Mike Atherton and still has to prove that he is a Test cricketer either as a batsman or a bowler.

These players have mostly fulfilled their expected and specialised one- day functions, even if the results have not gone entirely to plan. If they continue to do so, a Test place will await some of them, otherwise one-day wonders is the epithet they will have to live with.

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