England may need to rotate players as fixture list expands

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The Independent Online

With the one-day series wrapped up and his side still having plenty of meaningful cricket to play before Christmas Michael Vaughan should use England's last game in Bangladesh as an opportunity to rest four key players.

Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles and Richard Johnson will all want to play in today's third and final one-day international against Bangladesh here at the Bangabandhu Stadium, but each has little to prove in a meaningless game. More would be gained from giving Andrew Strauss, Anthony McGrath, Gareth Batty and James Kirtley the chance to show their credentials.

Each is yet to play a one-day international here and the presence of players with a point to prove would add extra edge to an England team that is in danger of getting into bad habits. So far in this one-sided series Bangladesh have been dreadful and their performances appear to be dragging England down.

Vaughan's desire to finish this tour on a high may prevent England from making four changes but whatever XI he picks, it should still be far too strong for the home side. In their five-week tour of Bangladesh England have done all that could be asked of them and there seems no point in risking injury to a player who will play a significant role in Sri Lanka.

Australia have just used similar tactics after qualifying for the final of a triangular tournament in India. Because of the amount of international cricket now being played, player rotation is something the England selectors will have to consider before too long.

Such an approach would give Strauss his international debut and the presence of the Middlesex opener would increase the pressure on Worcestershire's Vikram Solanki, who is in desperate need of runs.

In full flow the Indian-born Solanki is a glorious player to watch but innings of such quality come along far too infrequently. In his last 10 matches for England the 27-year-old has scored one hundred and a half-century but in the other eight he has failed to pass 12.

"I am like any other player in the side," Solanki said. "I would like to be more consistent but I don't want to change the way I play. I have a role to play within the team. It is not to be reckless but there have been times when I have taken that role a stage too far and probably not weighed up the options. I got a good ball on Monday and didn't play a very good shot in the first game. But hopefully the low scores will start to come along a lot less frequently."

While Solanki frets over his form, Bangladesh cricket has a lot more to worry about after recent performances against England. However, Test cricket's most recent addition were given strong backing yesterday from Ehsan Mani and Malcolm Speed, the president and chief executive of the International Cricket Council respectively.

Speaking in Dhaka after a meeting with the Bangladesh Cricket Board, they admitted that the ICC could have handled Bangladesh's introduction to Test cricket better than they did but reaffirmed their commitment to cricket in the country.

"It do not think it was a mistake to give Bangladesh Test status," Speed said. "With the benefit of hindsight I feel we could have helped Bangladesh more than we did in the early days by allowing them to play more games at home. I also think we should have kept the ICC development programme more active rather than saying, 'Here is your licence to play, now get out there and play'. I am reasonably comfortable with the way Bangladesh is developing.

"I think a good challenge for them would be to win a Test match, a one-day match or a one-day series in the next two years. This would set them up for the 2007 World Cup and if they were to get to the final eight teams there, that would be great progress for them."

* England, who refused to play a World Cup pool match in Zimbabwe last year, would be unlikely to face sanctions from the ICC if they withdrew from next year's proposed tour to the country. The ICC president, Ehsan Mani, confirmed yesterday: "There are no sanctions that the ICC would impose on anyone."

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