Cricket: The England file

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Michael Atherton

His resolution is not in doubt. Has the advantage of this being his second tour to the Caribbean after a successful one last time and while he doesn't get that far forward, that isn't essential. One of the abiding images from 1994 is of his being worked over by Courtney Walsh for over after over. He didn't flinch. He is also now a better leader of men with greater understanding.

Alec Stewart

If he doesn't move his feet with quite the panache of Fred Astaire they're in the right place enough for him to make it count. His form four years ago when he got two hundreds in Barbados makes him a sound bet to produce the goods. Should open and also keep wicket. He's sufficiently fit and the side's balance depends on it.

John Crawley

Creepy would be my No 3. While he's not quite established himself he has benefited from a sensible policy of continuity and he's just a little tighter defensively than some of the others and will play straight against the new ball if required. He's an attractive strokemaker but knows the importance of a good tour to his future.

Graham Thorpe

He is right up there in the Coopers and Lybrand Ratings and deserves to be. He has become one of the best Test batsmen in the world and tougher competitors would be hard to find. He'll do well and for England to be successful it is crucial he does. He is vital.

Nasser Hussain

Despite the double hundred and a later hundred last summer against Australia he will know that he could still be more consistent. A hallmark of this England batting line-up is its fierce determination and Nasser fits well into that. Princely in full flow but must watch the rising ball and a slight tendency to play it square.

Mark Ramprakash

The most successful player in English county cricket, an orthodox but quite lovely batsman who has suffered a little at selectorial hands. Temperament has been unfairly questioned; he's shown guts and given a run he'll respond with runs. He'll wonder if he's ever going to make it but I'm sure David Lloyd will convince him of it.

Mark Butcher

Capable of destroying attacks on his day, a blistering accumulator. Left- handedness could be important but he's a tad airy-fairy outside off stump and I'd open with Atherton and Stewart. Early days, of course, and by April he might have established himself as leading Test run-getter. Deserves his place in the squad, was unshaken when things went wrong last summer, but looks a little more vulnerable than others.

Adam Hollioake

One of the top one-day players in the world but a Test all-rounder needs something else. It's pointless trying to replace Ian Botham but he may not quite be up to the mark as either bowler or batsman. Maybe only if he is called up will we be sure. But he performed his captaincy duties in Sharjah wonderfully well. He should have been installed for similar duties in the one-day series against West Indies.

Jack Russell

Having been picked must have hopes of resuming wicketkeeping duties. A great keeper, still at the top in world terms, a doughty batsman who'll get late-middle-order runs, but in Stewart England have a genuine all- rounder, and five bowlers will be needed to bowl out the opposition twice. Jack might be unlucky again, but there are worse ways to spend the winter.

Andrew Caddick

England's best bowler. Has pace and penetration and has matured a great deal. Was on last tour (got Brian Lara out in Antigua after he'd made 375) and if there's been a question mark over his mind in the past, his excellent form against Australia will be significant to his future. Quiet, self-contained but a good bloke with a lot of ability.

Dean Headley

Looked the part, didn't he, when England called on him at last. Has genuine pace too and can give any batsman the hurry-up. Moves the ball and is particularly worrisome to left-handers. That's all right, West Indies have plenty including Lara. OK, if he was to get going in an innings or two it would hardly matter who was bowling but expect Dean to do well in the conditions.

Angus Fraser

At 32, not quite the old man of the party that some people have liked to project. Still bowls line and length ball after ball and with Darren Gough's withdrawal could now be a major player. What they say about his heart is all true and if he hasn't quite got the pace of old to make big breakthroughs his reliability should never be underrated as a weapon on its own.

Ashley Cowan

First tour; he's a tyro. But he's tall, hits the deck and could make something of the uneven bounce on offer. If one gets up he's quick enough for it to count; if it stays low anything can happen, and usually does. Still learning the trade but with Fraser and Caddick around he will learn quickly. A good pick, could easily play in five-man attack.

Chris Silverwood

The replacement for Darren Gough. After touring enthusiastically last year he seemed to go backwards in the early part of last summer. The way he got through that and came back towards the end when he was taking more wickets than at any time in his career was admirable. Will not be in the team plans immediately, having not been original selection, but on a concentrated tour he can expect to be summoned any time.

Phil Tufnell

He's a match-winner and a hero to fans, the sort of player we take to our hearts. He's been misunderstood too often but somehow he has survived it all. It was worth everything to see what he did to the Australians at The Oval. May not get many big hauls this time, but his long spells will be a key part of the collective team effort. Will realise again that he's capable of the unexpected.

Robert Croft

He looked every inch a Test player on his arrival on the scene, largely because he is a Test player. He has the right stuff. The fact that he takes it away from the left-handers may be in his favour. Likely to be needed some time, but may not start. In an attack of five bowlers, four seamers looks the best option from here, but that can change.

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