Concern over Flintoff brings Irani into frame

Essex 215 and 41-2 Lancashire 375

The England selectors who gathered here yesterday to bandy names ahead of tomorrow's first Test squad announcement had plenty on their minds with an injury cloud again hanging over Andrew Flintoff. Too much, perhaps, to notice the enthusiasm of the fielder given a surprise appearance as an Essex substitute during the afternoon session.

Then again, he needed little introduction. A couple of years ago, Graham Gooch would have been deliberating with them. But yesterday, the ex-selector, former captain and most prolific England Test batsman – now the Essex coach – showed he was not above 12th man duty after the pace bowler Scott Brant followed the opening batsman Will Jefferson into the treatment room.

Gooch was cheerily welcomed by the Lancashire public, some of whom might have witnessed his first appearance on this ground 30 seasons ago, when the ability that was to bring him 118 Test caps was already in evidence as he made a first- innings 94. This time they applauded not the thwack of leather on willow but the creaking of a time-worn body – he will be 50 in July – as he trotted around the infield for James Middlebrook and Paul Grayson, Essex's two spinners, at one point giving athletic chase to save two as Mark Chilton and Warren Hegg piled on the runs for Lancashire.

Fortunately for the overworked physiotherapist, Gooch was relieved after seven overs when Brant returned, after which Ronnie Irani, the Essex captain, gave himself a plausible shout for a Test recall by dismissing Hegg via a catch at point on the way to figures of 4 for 59 from 32 overs. With the all-rounder's slot potentially up for grabs as Flintoff undergoes a second scan on a shoulder injury today and Craig White recovers from a rib operation, his timing could not have been better.

The same could be said of Chilton and Iain Sutcliffe, the two centurions as Lancashire ground out a first-innings lead of 160 on a deteriorating pitch on which their spinners, Gary Keedy and Carl Hooper, will hope to prosper. Sutcliffe, their winter signing from Leicestershire, batted for almost five hours, including 11 fours in making his first century for his new county before he was leg before trying to sweep Middlebrook. Chilton reached his second consecutive hundred by hitting Grayson for six as Lancashire put themselves in a winning position.

It was further strengthened as Jefferson and Darren Robinson came and went, but Nasser Hussain has so far survived his second meeting with James Anderson and has a chance, belatedly, to make some runs today.

* Mark Ramprakash made a magnificent 152 and Ian Salisbury 101 not out as the champions Surrey moved into a commanding position after the second day of their First Division match with Leicestershire at The Oval. After bowling out the visitors for 200 on the opening day, Surrey declared at 560 for 8 and then left Leicestershire on 14 for 2.

Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
News
UK Border Control
i100
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn