County open a can of worms

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I was shocked and disappointed to be left out of the side. It left me in a state of confusion, of not knowing quite what to do or where to turn, but knowing I had to speak to somebody to try to get some sort of explanation.

I was shocked and disappointed to be left out of the side. It left me in a state of confusion, of not knowing quite what to do or where to turn, but knowing I had to speak to somebody to try to get some sort of explanation.

This has nothing to do with being omitted from the England team for the Second Test - which was upsetting of course but understandable - but of not being able to get a game for Glamorgan instead. The county decided they could not find room for me in their Championship team for the match at Cardiff against Hampshire.

I heard from my friend, the Glamorgan physio, that they would not accommodate me on Wednesday night after I had been told I had not made the final cut for the Test side. A voice message on my mobile later from the coach confirmed that they would not alter their side and were going in with two spinners and three seamers. It left me wondering whether I was coming or going, or going or coming. I don't want to cause ructions at the club. Wales is my country, Glamorgan is my county.

But here I am, a member of the England squad and I can't get a game for my county XI. Yet I need to bowl to find rhythm and fluency. You can perhaps sense my frustration here. Fair enough, the pitch might have been taking spin, but could not a bowler of high pace also make a contribution on that sort of surface?

There is no certainty I will make the Glamorgan side for the next Championship match, starting on Wednesday. The second team don't have a game for a while. I'm feeling as perplexed as many batsmen are by Shane Warne's flipper. We contacted the MCC to see if they had a twos game of reasonable standard. They didn't. A cricketer without a game, a bowler without an over, that's what keeps going through my mind.

I shall have to speak to somebody, especially my agent and the Professional Cricketers' Association, to find out what's going on. This could open a can of worms. Will other counties in future fail to find a place for players who are members of the England squad if they feel it will cause difficulties? What can be done about it?

In the old days, long before central contracts, players who were in the England side went back to their counties and played automatically. It was just the accepted procedure. Having said that, I have some previous experience to draw on. My dad, Jeff, also a fast bowler, was once left out by Glamorgan after a Test match. The reason: they wanted to play two spinners.

Being left out by England was not as big a shock. It's not that I expected it, but I knew that my bowling at Lord's lacked rhythm. I was only bowling in the mid-eighties, which is not what I'm there for. It will all come back when I can get some bowling in.

I see this as a challenge now, a different kind of challenge from the one that I faced when I injured my knee so badly. In a way this is worse. I had no control over that. I couldn't play cricket, so I just had to concentrate on getting fit. Now I can play and I'm not being allowed to.

I will have to have a chat to somebody, not to make any ultimatums, not to jump up and down or slap in a transfer request, but to get things sorted out. Where do I stand? Nobody has told me.

There is no bitterness or acrimony about being passed over by England. James Anderson, who took my place, is a big friend of mine and I wished him well straightaway. Of course I want to play, but this is the best side I've ever played in. We're all in it for each other.

From England's point of view it has to be good that they have a stock of bowlers to pick from. Apart from the five seamers attached to this squad, I suppose you can add Lancashire's Sajid Mahmood to the list. Maybe in the future, with so much cricket being played, it will give an opportunity for some kind of rotation to make sure people get rests. Not that first, you would want to rotate Stephen Harmison just now, and second, that I need a rest.

I am beginning to feel in useful nick again, I have worked a lot with Troy Cooley, the England bowling coach, and feel more comfortable as a result. I'll work at home again over the weekend. But I need a cricket match somewhere soon. I wouldn't say I'd consider any offers, but it makes you feel like that.

In an interview with Stephen Brenkley

Comments