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.

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice