Whatever other qualities are contained in England's squad for the World Twenty20, carefully structured, long-term planning may not be chief among them.
The 15 players named yesterday for the tournament to be played in the Caribbean in May include three who are uncapped in the format, a batsman who has not played an international match for three years, another who has been out of favour since being dropped during last summer's Ashes series, a bowler who has spent most of his recent career on the treatment table and a star who might have to dash back any hour to be with his wife at the birth of their first child.
Apart from that, the selection may be a model of how to build a side gradually to ensure it peaks on the day of the big match. The choice that the selectors have made, or rather the gamble that they have taken, means that there are six changes from the 15 who competed in the same competition in England only nine months ago.
That the World Twenty20 is being repeated so soon shows only that the International Cricket Council have got themselves into as much of a muddle as Geoff Miller, the chairman of selectors, and his panel. It may be that they have alighted on a blend of individuals ready to take on the globe in a form of the game which was invented in these shores but it still has the air of being arrived at by tossing a few names in the air and seeing where they land. Much like Twenty20.
Miller said yesterday: "We've believe 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 can accommodate the conditions and surfaces in the West Indies."
The choice of the 22-year-old wicketkeeper batsman, Craig Kieswetter, flavour of the month and it is to be hoped the decade, makes it certain that England will use their 17th different opening batting combination in 26 T20 internationals. As soon as one pair fails another one is summoned, which is less selection policy than hailing a cab and hoping for the best.
Kieswetter, who made a century in a one-day international in Bangladesh last month after a late call-up, is one of three players in the 15 who learned their cricket in South Africa. This is entirely in keeping with recent policy. Although Jonathan Trott has been dropped after an increasingly torpid winter, his place has been taken by Michael Lumb, of Hampshire, who was also born in South Africa and played for that country's under-19s side before seeking to make his fame and fortune in England.
He is the son of Richard Lumb, the former Yorkshire opener. Lumb, also unrecognised internationally hitherto, has had to wait for his chance. He was 30 last month but appears to have clinched his place after a series of eye-catching if not substantial innings in the Indian Premier League. His form for Hampshire last season occasionally bordered on the spectacular.
Kevin Pietersen is the third, most familiar player of South African origins. As England's leading batsman the selectors presumably felt they had to pick him but he intends to leave the tournament to ensure he is with his wife, Jessica, when she gives birth to the first child, expected early in May.
The third uncapped T20 international in addition to Kieswetter and Lumb is James Tredwell of Kent, who performed with some aplomb on the recent tour of Bangladesh. There is a recall to the squad, also based on IPL performances, of Ravi Bopara. He was unceremoniously axed after his form deserted him against Australia last summer but the selectors have been encouraged by his performances in the IPL – though after starting with two fifties, three of his last four innings have been 1, 0 and 1 and his side, King's XI Punjab, have yet to win.
Like Bopara, the Sussex captain Michael Yardy has earned a recall despite not having been named in any of the three performance squads containing 41 players in A, B and C lists as recently as last November. The selectors may have been persuaded by his county form, though that has not worked for other Twenty20 specialists in the past, and were not deterred by his most recent showing being in 2007.
England's bowling attack is full of familiar faces. James Anderson returns after being rested for Bangladesh as does Ryan Sidebottom, who had to depart the tour early with injury. At 32 nothing suggests he is still the bowler that, briefly, he was three years ago. Stuart Broad, who was tired out at the end of Bangladesh, is retained and two Yorkshiremen, Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad improbably complete the main pace places.
With the explosive Eoin Morgan, anything is possible, but the suspicion must be that the real chance in the Caribbean belongs to England Women who are defending their title and yesterday recalled star batsman, Claire Taylor.
World Twenty20: England squad
*ICC World Twenty20, 30 April to 16 May 2010 (Caribbean)
P D Collingwood (Durham, captain), J M Anderson (Lancashire), R S Bopara (Essex), T T Bresnan (Yorkshire), S C J Broad (Nottinghamshire), C Kieswetter (Somerset, wicket-keeper), M J Lumb (Hampshire), E J G Morgan (Middlesex), K P Pietersen (Hampshire), A Shahzad (Yorkshire), R J Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire), G P Swann (Nottinghamshire), J C Tredwell (Kent), L J Wright (Sussex), M H Yardy (Sussex).Reuse content