There is, as though anybody could forget, a one-day series starting today. It involves England against West Indies and the first match of three will be played at Headingley.
England have a new (or newish) look to their squad, of whom Eoin Morgan is the only uncapped member. The withdrawal yesterday of Kevin Pietersen with a minor Achilles tendon injury means that Morgan will definitely play, though it also puts the series firmly in its place.
Morgan is an exciting and dashing player, a 23-year-old left-hander from Dublin who has been in splendid form for Middlesex and scores his runs at a clip.
Doubtless, England will be much encouraged by the recent introduction to their Test team of Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan. After his frightening one-day baptism at the hands of Sri Lanka three years ago, Bresnan is a much more rounded bowler and will have been heartened by his three wickets in the second Test against the West Indies.
The trouble with the series starting today, sponsored this summer for the last time by NatWest, is that it is completely overshadowed by events to come. It was also only weeks ago that the two sides met in a one-day series in the Caribbean, which England won.
Pietersen protested how much he would miss playing for England. Maybe, but the medical bulletin made it clear the injury would not have precluded his playing and that he was being rested for the World Twenty20 and Ashes.
If he was going to miss any series, this is the one. Paradoxically, of course, England still need to play as many one-day internationals as they can because they remain fairly useless at the form.
In the absence of Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, others will have a chance. James Anderson and Stuart Broad have become a potent opening attack, though they need careful nurturing ahead of the Ashes.
West Indies will be no pushovers and their captain, Chris Gayle, should be pining no longer for the Indian Premier League since his team, Kolkata Knight Riders, are out.
Headingley is unlikely to be full for the match. In Yorkshire, too, they have their mind on other matters.
England (possible): A J Strauss (capt), R S Bopara, I R Bell, E J G Morgan, P D Collingwood, M J Prior, S C J Broad, T T Bresnan, G P Swann, J M Anderson, R J Sidebottom.Reuse content