More than one piece missing in Fletcher's World Cup puzzle

With the World Cup less than 12 months away, each team will be looking to reduce the number of players they use, in order to finalise their tactics. England's planning has not been helped by the injuries and personal problems which have prevented five of their leading figures from playing in the current series in India.

If each member of the 16-man one-day squad here plays at least one game, England will have used 25 players in 22 games by the end of this tour. Yet despite a high turnover Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, still feels there is only one place up for grabs. "We have a very good idea of what our strongest side is," he said on the eve of this morning's second one-dayer against India in Faridabad. "If everybody is fit and ready to go, there is probably only one position we would look at over the coming weeks."

Fletcher, typically, refused to divulge the position he has yet to fill, and it would be encouraging for England supporters if it were blatantly obvious which it was. But it is not. There are several areas where the England one-day team look vulnerable, and it starts with the openers.

Marcus Trescothick, if he sorts out the personal issues that forced him to withdraw from the tour, will be welcomed back and will open the batting. But with whom? Matthew Prior opened with Trescothick in Pakistan before Christmas when England believed they needed a pinch-hitter at the top of the order. In Trescothick's absence he opened with Andrew Strauss in Delhi on Tuesday. But the pair are yet to fill fans with hope. In six games this winter Prior has averaged under 20 and in his last 10 innings Strauss has scored 233 runs.

Moving on to Michael Vaughan, nobody can be sure how his right knee will react when he returns during the summer. Vaughan is desperate to captain England to the 2007 World Cup, but if his knee specialist advises him not to play both forms of the game he will have to retire from one-day cricket.

Vaughan is a wonderful batsman and a great captain, but he has not conquered the limited-over game. In 74 matches he has yet to hit a hundred and he scored 142 runs in his last 10 one-day innings. But if he is fit, he will bat in the top three.

Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff and Paul Collingwood are all certain to play, but there are still questions being asked about Geraint Jones. In their last six one-dayers England have played two wicketkeepers, Jones and Prior - a strange policy. Both are capable batsmen, but are they more likely to score a hundred than specialist batsmen such as Owais Shah, Ian Bell or Vikram Solanki? Only one of Prior or Jones should play.

The position that Fletcher is talking about is for the fourth seamer and No 9 batsman. Liam Plunkett, Kabir Ali, Sajid Mahmood, Simon Jones and Chris Tremlett will all be considered over the coming months. But, despite Fletcher's claim, there are several other issues that need to be sorted out, too.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat