Angus Fraser: Udal earns late call-up as Vaughan is handed full range of resources
Tuesday 20 September 2005
Shaun Udal and Alex Loudon, an uncapped pair of off-spinning all-rounders, are the only stand-out selections in the party. Chris Tremlett and Matt Prior are also yet to make their Test debuts but they, like the remaining 13 members of the tour party, have been involved in England squads during 2005.
Gareth Batty and Chris Read are the only notable omissions and they have been dropped for players whom the selectors believe have better all-round games.
England usually travel with 16 players yet the uncertainty surrounding the fitness of Simon Jones has encouraged the selectors to pick Tremlett for his first full tour. Udal and Loudon will only come into contention if one of England's Ashes-winning bowling attack picks up an injury.
Udal owes an unexpected and late chance to represent England to his consistent bowling over the last few years. David Graveney, England's chairman of selectors, admitted that his three-man committee did not have many options on the spinning front but Udal, who has taken 307 first-class wickets at an average of 27.9 since 1999, has been one of the best performers in county cricket.
The 36-year-old has huge experience and England will be looking to tap into this should anything happen to Ashley Giles, or a Pakistan groundsman produces a dust-bowl.
Loudon, 11 years younger than Udal, has been identified as England's most exciting young spin bowler, and has been selected so that he can gain experience. Giles and Udal will play in front of Loudon but should one of these two suffer an injury he could make a surprise Test debut.
Like Andrew Strauss, the Eton-educated Loudon had plenty of options when he left Durham University, but he too chose to delay an entry into the City in order to pursue a career in cricket. He is an ambitious young man and, should his England career fail to take off, he will not hang around county cricket desperately waiting for a benefit. Family money means he does not have to, but nobody should doubt his commitment to the game.
Loudon left Kent in 2004 and moved to Warwickshire where he has scored more runs and bowled more overs than in any previous season. As a spin bowler he is young but he is attempting to bowl the doosra - a controversial ball which spins the other way and has been perfected by Muttiah Muralitharan, Harbhajan Singh and Saqlain Mushtaq - and he has plenty of promise.
"We have been looking at a number of spinners but, without wishing to be too blunt, their performances during the course of the summer have been disappointing," Graveney said. "The level of performance of a lot of these bowlers has concerned me. Alex Loudon is an exciting package. He can bowl, bat and field and he has plenty of talent. We are using this as an opportunity to introduce a young guy to learn.
"He is not alone. Liam Plunkett has been picked in the one-day squad for similar reasons. Hopefully, the pair will benefit from being involved in the atmosphere of the England dressing-room and learn the disciplines that are needed to play at international level."
Plunkett replaces Darren Gough, who surprisingly asked the selectors not to consider him for the one-day squad. He wants to rest his body and spend more time with his family.
After a disappointing summer with England, Gough's position was under threat, but five weeks of cricket in a five-month period is not a huge demand on his time. The 35-year-old owes English cricket nothing, having given his all for more than a decade, yet it is difficult to see the selectors returning to him again.
The selectors ideally want the Test and one-day sides to contain the same personnel, and Vikram Solanki and Plunkett are the only one-day players who will not be leaving for Pakistan at the end of October.
The England and Wales Cricket Board National Academy Squad is a mishmash of experience and youth. Robert Key, Chris Read, Owais Shah, Gareth Batty and Sajid Mahmood will act as cover for Pakistan, and will hope that they will be asked to join the younger players on a new year tour of the West Indies.
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