On the Front Foot: Lumb is latest to be lumbered as selectors spot another opening

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The Independent Online

Spot the difference. "The selectors have had to make some tough decisions, young academy graduates all seized their chances, a couple of senior players have missed out." And then: "We've picked a balanced squad that can meet the needs of the Twenty20 format: aggressive batting with variation and strength in depth, and various bowling options that accommodate the conditions and surfaces in the West Indies." The first are paraphrased comments from Clare Connor about the England Women's squad which will defend their World Twenty20 title in the West Indies. They went on a tour of India where some young players had the chance of full international competition, took it and have kept out more senior players seeking a return. The second is from the National Selector of the England men's team, Geoff Miller, in putting his stamp of approval on the England men's team. It contains three players never before capped in the T20 format, an admission if ever there was one that up until the tournament itself, selection had simply been wrong. Why they should have got it right now is difficult to judge considering the appalling track record. Michael Lumb is the latest to be called up as a catch-all opener, in the footsteps of such discards as Vikram Solanki, Darren Maddy, Joe Denly, Matt Prior and Luke Wright to name but a handful. It's possible they have landed on a correct combination, but impossible that this has come about through careful planning rather than blind panic.

MCC add extra dimension

MCC, who as guardian of the Laws of the game are still akin to God in cricketing terms, have no compunction about sleeping with the devil. Their latest wheeze after backing out of buying one of the spare franchises in the Indian Premier League, is to screen this year's final in 3D at Lord's. Premium tables of eight, with a champagne reception, cost £2,400 and individual tickets are £225. To watch the one-day international between England and Pakistan at Lord's – live, a kind of 3D without the screen, you understand – will cost £90.

Test cricket isn't in the pink

There is, however, no question that another march has been stolen by the IPL. Its final will be screened in 3D throughout India, and will be the first match in 3D in England. The ICC and ECB keep informing us of the primacy of Test cricket and are continuing to keep under wraps their masterplan for saving it. By the time they reveal all – a championship involving the top four teams every two years is the new favourite – IPL will have conquered all. Pink balls, trialled in Abu Dhabi as MCC were crushed by Durham last week, will not be the answer.

From overseas to oversee

England are expected to name their new fast-bowling coach this week in succession to Ottis Gibson. Three overseas coaches are on the shortlist of five – Australians David Saker and Craig McDermott and South African Allan Donald. They must pick the best man for the job but if managing director Hugh Morris and coach Andy Flower decide to overlook the homegrown candidates, Dougie Brown and Stuart Barnes, it would be welcome if all sanctimonious preaching about the wonders of the English system could be permanently suspended.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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