On the Front Foot: Davies so close to Test cap, but sometimes it's hardly worth having

How close Steve Davies came to being awarded his Test cap on Thursday. Summoned by the selectors from a Championship match at Horsham, where he was playing for Surrey, it took him five hours to make the 150-mile journey on Wednesday evening... only to find that Matt Prior's eye infection had cleared up.

At least Davies was spared hanging around on Thursday only for Prior to declare himself fit by Friday. But, despite his upbeat tweet ("Disappointed not to be playing but nice to be in selectors thoughts... thanks for your messages guys "), it must have occurred to him that the chance may have gone.

Prior has now played 40 successive Tests, second as a wicketkeeper only to the 65 in succession played between March 1971 and August 1977 by Alan Knott, news of whose gong in the Queen's Birthday Honours List OTFF is anxiously hoping for. He is going nowhere quickly.

Davies is not alone in being so near yet so far. In 1982, the Kent fast bowler Kevin Jarvis was called up to the England squad for the Second Test against India at Old Trafford, as cover for the injured Paul Allott. Jarvis appeared in the team photograph and was handed an England shirt and jumper (though crucially not a cap).

On the morning of the match, a bare patch on the pitch persuaded the selectors to play two spinners. Jarvis was never called up again.

Some of those who actually played may wonder why they bothered. The least participating Test cap of all was Jack MacBryan, the Somerset opening batsman who was picked for England against South Africa at Old Trafford in 1924. South Africa batted for 66.5 overs on the first day, after which there was no further play. MacBryan did not bat, bowl or take a catch and was never picked again. His tweets on the matter do not survive.

Testing times for jinxed Edgbaston

The rain over Edgbaston appeared not to dampen Colin Povey's spirits. Edgbaston's chief executive was in bullish and indeed sunny mood despite the hammer blow the weather has dealt to the Third Test.

Povey has overseen a dramatic improvement to Warwickshire's ground, embodied by the £32m stand at the Pavilion End.

To cover this expenditure, Warwickshire need to host big matches. Fortunately, the ECB's insurance scheme means they will not lose out on ticket sales for the match. But the amount of beer drunk and hamburgers eaten will have been minimal.

Povey has already had to absorb the blow of Edgbaston not being awarded an Ashes Test next year, though the ground does have one in 2015. He is also cheerfully convinced that the Twenty20 finals day, to be held at Edgbaston for four years from next year, and the Champions Trophy Final in 2013 are prizes worth having.

But Edgbaston has lost four days' Test cricket since 2000 – more than any other ground.

Legends of the fall so sad

All statistical records, of course, are set only so that they can be overtaken. But there is still sadness, a yearning for what was, when they are consigned to the scrap heap.

Two milestones are under threat this summer from players in this England side. Andrew Strauss needs only four catches to overhaul Ian Botham and Colin Cowdrey, who each took 120. Cowdrey would be relegated to second place after 37 years. Perhaps when he went past Wally Hammond's 110, the last one taken in 1947 (Verdun Scott of New Zealand) there was also a sense of something lost.

Soon too, Graeme Swann will take the six wickets he needs to become England's most prodigious off-spinner ahead of Jim Laker, who took the last of his 193 in 1959.

Good luck to Swann, but for some of us Laker can never be usurped.

Tufnell on Beeb garden leave

The cameras were following Phil Tufnell around Edgbaston. It seemed peculiar, since there was no cricket being played. It transpired that they were there for Tufnell's imminent BBC TV gardening programme. Of course, we should have known – they don't do cricket.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

Comments