Onwards, upwards - and around in a full circle

Cricket Diary

You will have noticed that we are constantly being told England are at last going onwards and upwards. This is probably so, though it is perhaps pertinent to note how they are making the trip.

You will have noticed that we are constantly being told England are at last going onwards and upwards. This is probably so, though it is perhaps pertinent to note how they are making the trip.

David Graveney has been chairman of selectors since 1997, in which time England have played 39 Tests, making a total of 429 caps. Six of the side who played in Graveney's first Test in charge (remember it: Edgbaston, June 1997, the incredible victory against Australia?) also appeared against West Indies at The Oval.

Between them this sextet have won 185, some 43 per cent of those caps. The men in question are Alec Stewart (39), Nasser Hussain (36), Mike Atherton (35), Andrew Caddick (26), Darren Gough (26) and Graham Thorpe (23).

Yet, as if to confirm how difficult the art of selection is and how Graveney and his cohorts might have been casting around in the dark until now, the remaining 217 caps have gone to no fewer than 38 players.

Of these, 25 have played in five matches or fewer, although it should be noted that five of those are on this winter's tour. Ashley Giles, Ian Salisbury and Craig White are part of Graveney's continuing belief in the comeback, while Matthew Hoggard and Marcus Trescothick represent the category known as the next good thing.

The tour party, bizarrely announced last Monday, is shorn of 10 of the players who embarked for South Africa last autumn. Eight who did not make that trip are making this one, just seven have been retained. That septet includes five of what might be called the Graveney Six, Thorpe being the odd one out, having declined to tour last year.

Hussain, the England captain, has stressed often that they are proceeding towards a settled unit, although five of the side who played against Zimbabwe in the first Test of this summer are not in the last three months later. Two who were announced with a fanfare, Steve Harmison and Chris Schofield, are not on tour, and Harmison has yet to play a Test.

The six picked for The Oval who are not in the Graveney Six - Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick, Craig White, Dominic Cork, Ashley Giles and even Graeme Hick - should know that precedent is not on their side. The axe surely awaits.

 

Cricket, as in Jiminy the insect, and cricket as in the greatest of games, have a different etymology. The creature comes from the Old French word criquer, meaning to creak, referring to the sound made when they rub their legs together; the game comes possibly from the Old English cric or creag, but nobody is sure.

None the less, the two could be synonymous, as the Zoological Society of London said last week. The society have made it their mission to save the British field cricket (apparently the other cricket does not now need saving). If action had not been taken in 1991, they would have been extinct in six years.

So, the society now regularly release captive-bred crickets into the wild, and areas near rural cricket pitches happen to be perfect haunts. They thrive on short, tussocky grass near bare ground.

Mike Edwards, consultant entomologist to the society, said: "Many sites actually used to be near cricket grounds and are now heathland. We have also introduced several crickets to places very close to cricket grounds."

Last week 1,000 crickets were released in Hampshire at Broxhead Common, near Lindford cricket pitch. And at Arundel Castle cricket club, the groundsman Colin Dick makes it his business to ensure that crickets and cricket live in harmony. "If only that site was bigger for breeding purposesit would be perfect," said Edwards.

 

Apart from England's renaissance after 31 years, the other landmark in the Fifth Test was the passing of Cornhill. The once small-time insurance company, now owned by a German concern, are withdrawing from cricket after sponsoring 131 home Test matches, more than any England player has appeared in.

The firm were recruited in 1978 after the game had been split asunder by Kerry Packer. They are easily the game's most enduring sponsors, and while nobody doubts their commitment to the cause it has not all been plain England sailing under their aegis.

Of Cornhill's matches, England have won 39, lost 43 and drawn 48, a win record of 30 per cent. In away Tests during that time they have won 22 from 106, or 19 per cent, making an overall 25 per cent victory record.

This compares with pre-Cornhill England, when a total of 536 games yielded 199 wins, a ratio of 37.12 per cent. It was obvious that this had to be improved, and 22 years was quite long enough to prove that it was not going to happen.

BOOK MARK

As the analyst for Channel 4, Simon Hughes has added a valuable new dimension to the art of explanation, albeit in a somewhat deadpan tone with a voice that was not created for the microphone. He is funnier, with the added bonus that you do not have to listen to the undulcet tones, in his latest autobiographical book, Yakking Round The World, a sequel to his deservedly award- winning A Lot Of Hard Yakka.

Hughes takes us to the cricketing places that he has visited and awards marks. England's winter tourists might like to know that only Pretoria in South Africa receives fewer than Pakistan's 12 from 30: "Just don't go there for a beach holiday. The only bit of sand I found was littered with rabid dogs and old car tyres, and the local women were paddling in veils," writes our hero.

Man in the middle

In his third and most recent Test match he made 99 not out and England won the match. It was the highest score by an English nightwatchman. Alex Tudor (right) was then injured and has not played another Test. His tour of South Africa was marred by injury and poor performance. If he is to have an international future, it is, of course, as a fast bowler, and the signs are that he may be responding to the pressure to perform. He reduced Yorkshire to tatters at Scarborough last week, and has been put on standby for England this winter. Tudor began at 17 and we should be aware that he will not be 23 until next month.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'