On the Front Foot: Naming squad ridiculously early means Davies misses cut

The World Cup begins in 27 days' time. The countries' squads for the tournament had to be lodged with the International Cricket Council by last Wednesday.

In some ways, they may as well have been commanded to hand them over as they left the last tournament in the West Indies. Four years or a month, it makes little difference in arriving at the precise composition of the squad with every place covered.

England and Australia were both miffed, not to say mystified, at having to announce their 15 players so early. There were still six matches of the Commonwealth Bank Series to run, in which form and balance might easily have shifted.

Similarly, Pakistan and New Zealand, India and South Africa are both engaged in limited-overs series. It could be said that it is the same for all sides but that is hardly the point of the World Cup.

England's coach, Andy Flower, an equable man, barely sought to hide his irritation at having to name the cadre of players at such a distance and it certainly deprived Steve Davies of more opportunity to nail down the spot of wicketkeeper-batsman.

Harbouring doubts as they did, Flower and the other selectors felt they hadto act by reintroducing Matt Prior, but it is based on no more than a hunch. And there is no compelling reason for the regulation. It is connected with marketing and programme publication but on a planet where instant communication is de rigueur, a lead time of the sort demanded by annuals cuts no ice.

The World is never-ending

As the World Cup gets closer – the ICC website is counting down the seconds – everyone is becoming twitchy. When an event is happening in the future, it is happening in the future and can take care of itself. But as it draws nearer, people are beginning to look closely at schedules and itineraries, and they do not like what they see.

The World Cup begins on 19 February in Dhaka and ends on 2 April in Mumbai, a durationof 43 days. England's participation begins on 22 February in Nagpur and they play the last of their six group matches 23 days later in Chennai against West Indies. For their fifth match, against Bangladesh, they take three flights to get from Chennai to Chittagong and another three to get back to Chennai for their seventh. By the end, everybody will have forgotten what they were doing at the start or where they were. It is a logistical nightmare.

Auctioning battle over KP bat

Kevin Pietersen can't do right for doing wrong. He has been auctioning one of his bats on eBay to raise funds for the Queensland Flood Relief Appeal. But some are having doubts.

It is not the bat with which Pietersen scored his 227 in the Second Test in Adelaide, but the blade with which he got a first-ball duck in the Third at Melbourne. It is a noble effort by Pietersen, who has been genuinely touched, but he has never recovered from giving away the bat with which he scored 158 against Australia at The Oval in 2005.

Fat not fit in county game

In discussing the continuing omission of Samit Patel from the England one-day side for too much fatness and not enough fitness, Andy Flower said others had been similarly indolent and overlooked.

He declined to name the guilty men but it was not a glowing advertisement for the county game.


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