If you are picked for England, you should go on tour

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The Independent Online

So, the touring party for India has been picked and, as widely predicted in the press, it does not contain either Darren Gough or Alec Stewart. They will be missed. Goughy and I have opened the bowling together in 20-odd Test matches on the trot. I'll just have to get used to seeing somebody else steaming in from the other end, and who knows, perhaps getting first use of the new ball as well.

Both Alec and Darren have been pillars of the England side during the revival of the past months (and before you mention it, during the setbacks of the past few weeks). Both have the experience which any side need. Both have been high achievers. They are extremely accomplished cricketers.

Having said which, I don't think England cricketers should pick and choose their tours. I think that it is our job to be available. It is not an easy life being away from home, living in hotels, going from strange place to strange place, missing home. But it never was. It's what we do, it's what we're paid for.

I think that your family has always to come first. Whatever you do, that should be the case. If, for instance, there was an emergency at home while I was away on tour, a real emergency, I would be on the first plane back. That, I'm sure, would be understood. But that's about it. I would never miss a tour for which I was selected. Good luck to both Goughy and Stewart this winter, but playing cricket is what we do.

Again, having said all that, I am looking forward to the break of the next few weeks. After yesterday's Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy final at Lord's I am missing Somerset's last Championship match of the season. It was a high note to go out on. I didn't take a wicket, but no matter. It was a great win for the club and a smashing day for our all-rounder Keith Parsons. It's terrific to win something in this of all seasons. I had expected to play that last game, I wanted to play – Somerset are my club – but there is another side of me which understands perfectly Duncan Fletcher's reasons for withdrawing me and others.

As I have said repeatedly in this column, rest from cricket is as important as playing cricket. It helps for better preparation. Of course, by this time in most other seasons I would have bowled twice as many overs as I have actually sent down this time, but still I am feeling tired. There are several reasons for that. It is partly the nature of the Australian beast.

They are a great side, against whom England have not played as well as we should have done, and they have inflicted a series of big defeats. Losing does not help your pysche. However much you flail against the fact, it puts you in the doldrums and makes you lethargic.

And the Aussies – why is it that all roads lead to Australia? – provide another compelling reason for missing the last Championship match of 2001. It may sound ridiculous, but it is of paramount importance that players start gearing up for playing Australia again next winter. I want to be there for that.

England have two hard tours this winter, to India and New Zealand, they have seven Test matches next summer, and there are abundant one-dayers in between. It is a lot of cricket. And it is crucial therefore to be ready for it. I want to play for England, I want to play for Somerset, I want to bowl, but sometimes something has to give.

Looking back on it now, this summer has not turned out as we dreamt, perhaps even expected. As I have mentioned, Australia are an exceptional side, and we haven't helped ourselves – I haven't bowled against them as I would have dearly liked to.

One job I would not like to be doing is that of selector. If they don't always get it right – according to the papers – there are reasons for that. Nobody around the counties is standing up to be counted. It really is beyond my comprehension.

There are no bowlers who are taking 70-odd wickets, which I really believe on these pitches they ought to be doing. And if nobody is taking that number of wickets why, then, is nobody scoring masses of runs? Sure, a couple of English batsmen have done well around the circuit this summer, but no more than that.

It is depressing. There is a comfort zone out there, in which too many young players are satisfied with their lot. Contentment is something to aspire to in life; it should not come at the age of 22 with 30 grand a year and a sponsored car. I despair of their desire – it is a poor reflection on the game and the country.

As England regroup for India, we will take succour from our pre-Australia form, from our performances on the subcontinent last winter. I hope and trust we have learnt from our conquerors this summer. And remember, there were positives. Graham Thorpe's batting average stayed the same.

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