Jacks of all trades must be masters

Stephen Brenkley says England's all-rounders hold key to success

There is nothing like a one-day match for high drama. Well, nothing, that is, except a Test (name the one-dayer in which 21 wickets have fallen in a day - no, thought not), and if everybody has recovered sufficiently, England's first fully-fledged triangular tournament, which begins on Thursday, should provide its fair share of thrills and spills.

There is nothing like a one-day match for high drama. Well, nothing, that is, except a Test (name the one-dayer in which 21 wickets have fallen in a day - no, thought not), and if everybody has recovered sufficiently, England's first fully-fledged triangular tournament, which begins on Thursday, should provide its fair share of thrills and spills.

It is unfortunate that it is interrupting a dramatic Test series between England and West Indies, but it would not do to be too sniffy. One-dayers pay the rent, the wages and in some cases, unfortunately, the bookmakers. None of the three sides involved in the NatWest Series - England, West Indies, Zimbabwe - have been seriously implicated in the match-rigging scandal, but that will not prevent sharp eyes being trained on everything that happens up to and including the final at Lord's on 22 July.

The teams will play each other three times in the group stage and the top two will go through. England are not among the best three one-day sides in the world, and are probably still in the bottom three. They can, however, win this inaugural competition with their peculiarly balanced squad, which is a hybrid, part ditheringly trying to look to the future, part hesitantly trying to win the matches at hand.

The party of 14 selected reflects the policy of the coach, Duncan Fletcher. He spent the latter part of the winter, his first in charge, emphasising the importance of all-rounders. There are four of the one-day variety, though they have not always looked like it internationally: Andrew Flintoff, Craig White, Mark Ealham and Paul Franks.

There are doubts about Flintoff, who has suffered a recurrence of a long-standing and worrying back injury. It is of increasing concern that bowling debilitates him. If it is, as has been suggested, an over-use injury, there is no reason to suppose it will go quietly.

The recall to one-day colours of Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe obviously strengthens the side. They are aggressive, they know how to get their runs and where. Nick Knight at the top of the order may not be quite indispensable, but he is a huge asset.

Whatever the captain, Nasser Hussain, says - and he is rightly unequivocal about his right to be in the side - there are still doubts about his strengths as a one-day batsman. He agrees he has to open because of limitations, not least in his sheer weight of shot, but Stewart and Knight might be more suited to that job. Still, Hussain it is, and since he came belatedly into the World Cup (replacing the injured Michael Atherton in the squad and then Knight in the side) he has not let them down.

On English pitches, even in July, the attack should profit. The front-three bowlers can be a handful and one of them, Darren Gough, seems actually to prefer the instant, constant pressure of one-day cricket.

England may eventually prove to be foolhardy in going down this road, in failing to bring on enough young players, of whom the wicketkeeper-batsman Chris Read springs readily to mind. But they can atone partially for that by trying to ensure Vikram Solanki actually gets a game or two. At least,they appear to have some sort of game plan.

It is difficult to be sure of the challenge likely to be provided. West Indies have been fairly wretched at the short game of late, and England at last appeared to get the measure of Zimbabwe last winter. West Indies will miss Curtly Ambrose, but they are a reunited side.

The Zimbabweans meanwhile have become accustomed to English pitches, they are a team in the true sense and it would be folly to take them lightly. But if England's batting and fielding hold up - no certainty with so many apparently key players over 30 - they can take the first new NatWest Trophy.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform