Case for Jones' recall for England gathers pace

Click to follow

Fast bowlers are a unique breed. The nature of the job dictates that it is advantageous if you are big, stroppy and abrasive. In general you are the type of character that asks why when a captain or coach orders you to jump, not how high. This approach can make it difficult for those in authority to handle you, but every bowler knows that he has the wrong attitude if he walks on to a cricket field with a carefree approach. The correct disciplines come from feeling the world is against you.

Such traits can be frustrating to a set up dominated by batsmen - such as England's - but Michael Vaughan and the selectors need to show tolerance of those with alternative views when selecting their squad for the West Indies. Matthew Hoggard, Stephen Harmison and Richard Johnson can all be stubborn, but each should join James Anderson in England's 16-man squad for the Caribbean.

It may be tempting to opt for Simon Jones, James Kirtley or Martin Saggers - bowlers with more accommodating approaches - but this would be unwise. The pitches in the West Indies may not be as quick and bouncy as they once were, but it is still a place where bowlers who are tall, accurate and fastish prove to be successful.

Because of this, Martin Bicknell will also be mentioned. The Surrey veteran's ten wickets against South Africa highlighted what a fine bowler he is, but his method is not quite what is required. West Indian pitches reward bowlers who hit the pitch hard and Bicknell's most dangerous weapon is swing.

Fast bowling will create the most debate and it may also cause concern in the accounts department at the England and Wales Cricket Board. The phone bill is sure to be high: David Graveney, Duncan Fletcher, Geoff Miller and Rodney Marsh are in Bristol, Cape Town, Chesterfield and Adelaide respectively, but it is the option of creating a 17th place on the tour that will raise eyebrows.

The move to include Jones in the 16-man squad gathered pace after England's tour of Sri Lanka. During this three Test series Vaughan's pace-attack, bar Andrew Flintoff, lacked penetration and control, but moves to pick the Glamorgan tyro should be resisted unless it is used as part of his rehabilitation.

The 25-year-old was exciting in his two Test matches in 2002, but he is still recovering from the injury to his right knee that prevented him playing in a competitive match during 2003. His involvement depends on how he does on this month's England A tour of Malaysia and India. This trip will give a good indication of his fitness and form, but I would prefer his recall not to be rushed.

There was a picture in a national newspaper last summer of Jones bowling for Glamorgan Second XI in his comeback. The image showed a batsman taking evasive action and the caption said Jones was back to his fiery best. What was not said was that the delivery was a wild beamer and not a well-aimed bouncer. With a first-class average of 37 Jones will still be a long way from the finished article even if he comes through India unscathed.

Andrew Caddick has also been mentioned, but it is hoped the selectors have learnt from last winter's selection of Darren Gough - an old fast bowler with a dodgy fitness record - who did not play in the last Ashes series.

The remaining 12 places in the Test squad will go to those who toured Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The one-day side, who play seven one-day Internationals after the Test series, has to remain the same because very little was revealed in Asia. In three games in Bangladesh they bowled first and then watched Flintoff do his stuff and in Sri Lanka they did not turn up for the solitary match which the rains allowed to be played.

England land in Jamaica at the end of February and have only two warm-up games before the first Test at Sabina Park. Nasser Hussain and Chris Read disappointed with the bat in Sri Lanka, but both will be eager to get a crack at the West Indies, whose bowling on their tour of South Africa has been dreadful.

The bowlers will have a different perspective on things however. Brian Lara is in prime form and there is little he enjoys more than flogging English bowlers. Good luck.

Possible Test squad: M Vaughan (capt), M Trescothick, M Butcher, N Hussain, G Thorpe, P Collingwood, A Flintoff, R Clarke, C Read (wkt), G Jones, A Giles, G Batty, J Anderson, S Harmison, R Johnson, M Hoggard (17th man: S Jones).

Possible one-day squad: M Vaughan (capt), M Trescothick, V Solanki, A Strauss, P Collingwood, A McGrath, I Blackwell, A Flintoff, R Clarke, G Batty, C Read (wkt), A Giles, R Johnson, J Anderson, J Kirtley.