The England and Wales Cricket Board has decided to reveal the preliminary squad of 30 players the selectors have picked for September's Champions Trophy. Each of the 12 teams competing in the tournament are required to give the International Cricket Council a full list of those cricketers they expect to pick from for their final 14-man squad by this Saturday but England had originally asked the game's governing body to keep theirs a secret.
England are under no obligation to make public their 30 and initially wanted to withhold this information so that the hopes of those named were not raised unnecessarily. But on realising that they would be the only country to act in this manner, the ECB has decided to announce its squad on Monday.
The Champions Trophy is not due to start until 10 September and England have until 10 August to trim this 30-man squad to 14 but the ICC requires a preliminary list for logistical reasons. It allows them to find out which players will take part in the mini-World Cup so that they are then able to print programmes and launch advertising campaigns.
In the past England have been happy to announce these squads and have given a clear indication of the direction in which the selectors see the side moving. Although Adam Hollioake, Matthew Maynard, Kyle Hogg and Darren Stevens failed to make it to South Africa, the release of their names caused a great deal of interest before the 2003 World Cup.
Despite their poor showing in the NatWest Series, the 15 players who represented England during the tournament can expect to find themselves included in this list even though several of them may not make the final cut. England's early exit has given the selectors little time to look at alternatives and the remaining 15 places will be made up of players who have recently been close to the squad and a few promising youngsters.
Vikram Solanki, James Kirtley, Gareth Batty and Chris Read have all featured in England's one-day plans during the last 12 months. They will probably be joined by Matthew Hoggard and Simon Jones, two fast bowlers who played in the recent Test series against New Zealand.
But the possible selection of players who have had little to do with the full England squad will cause the greatest intrigue. Ian Bell, Chris Tremlett, Graham Napier and Alex Gidman have all spent winters at the National Academy, and it is players from this generation whom England will be aiming to develop into international cricketers by the 2007 World Cup.
Paul Franks' excellent form with Nottinghamshire ought to be rewarded, and the fact that England play one of their group matches in the Champions Trophy at the Rose Bowl will encourage the selectors to include Hampshire's Dimitri Mascarenhas. On any other ground his medium pace may be treated as fodder but at home, on a seaming pitch, he has proven to be a handful.
Middlesex's off-spinning all-rounder Jamie Dalrymple may also get an unexpected boost. In his first full season of county cricket the former Oxford blue has already scored a double hundred against Surrey in the County Championship and two centuries in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy. The 23-year-old has a similar attitude to cricket as Andrew Strauss and is an outstanding fielder.
One player who will not feature is Nottinghamshire's Kevin Pietersen. The South African batsman becomes eligible to play for England at the end of the summer but he can expect to be included on the winter tours to Zimbabwe and South Africa.
* The England and Wales Cricket Board yesterday lost another of its leading officials when John Read, the director of communications, resigned from his post. He is the fourth high-profile executive to leave the ECB in the last 10 weeks. In his four years with the Board, Read negotiated greater rate relief for cricket clubs around the United Kingdom and implemented the media campaign which helped to make the inaugural Twenty20 Cup a success. But as with the chief executive, Tim Lamb, and the chairman of the corporate affairs and marketing committee, Des Wilson, the ECB's handling of England's proposed tours of Zimbabwe and a perceived weak leadership undermined his position. Read, who acted as Paddy Ashdown's political manager in the 1992 General Election, is planning to return to politics and public relations.Reuse content