Selectors bowled over for choice but they must be bold

This needs to become Miller's team and if promotion for Onions and Co means the end for others then so be it

Sooner or later, selectors have to select. This means taking bold or unkind decisions for the good of the team that they are picking and ultimately for their own good. It need not entail sweeping changes (indeed something has usually gone badly wrong if it does, witness plenty of episodes), but a tweak here, a turn there.

In announcing the squad for the first two Test matches of the summer against New Zealand, the newly installed four-man England selection panel rocked no boats. They named the team who won last time out against the Kiwis in Napier, plus Matthew Hoggard. Revolutionary it was not. Nor, it could be said, evolutionary.

This was probably to be expected, if not quite a stone-cold certainty. The new chairman of selectors, Geoff Miller, rejoicing under the official title of national selector, which gives off the air of something mildly sinister, learned his trade at the feet of the former chairman, David Graveney, of whom he speaks with great affection.

Graveney's mantra was continuity, something that should always be remembered when his tenure is discussed. It is one thing for selectors to talk of continuity, quite another for them to exercise it. Graveney designated his men and, largely, ploughed a steady furrow thereafter.

Under Miller this policy will probably continue. But he knows he cannot drive thousands upon thousands of miles around the country looking at county cricketand end up doing nothing.

It may never be known (given Miller's apparent determination to take discretion and the art of saying nowt to new levels, which is fine as long as he does it his way all the time) whether he secretly wanted to stamp his own imprint on the side early. Back in 1994, for instance, Ray Illingworth, quite obviously intent on showing who was boss, immediately picked the debutants Craig White and Steve Rhodes, and changed the balance of the side from a four-man bowling attack to five. In 1969, Alec Bedser, faced with the dilemma of picking a new captain because Colin Cowdrey was injured, went for the veteran but untried Illingworth, which 18 months later led to the Ashes being regained.

But the first national selector is biding his time. If there was nothing contentious in this squad, it was still possible to wonder where his thoughts were heading with regard to the bowlers. Their one nod towards boldness was jettisoned when Andrew Flintoff was injured two days before the squad was announced. It seems that Flintoff would have played as part of a four-man attack.

His absence allowed the recallof Matthew Hoggard, at least to the 12. Despite the kind words and the desire to be loyal to a player who helped win back the Ashes, there is circumstantial evidence to hint Hoggard's international days are drawing quietly to a close – which might have been hastened by the broken thumb he sadly sustained playing for Yorkshire on Friday, struck by a Stephen Harmison delivery. In pretty quick succession, Duncan Fletcher, the former coach, commented on Hoggard's diminishing pace (never great) and Michael Vaughan, the captain, while acknowledging his early-season form, was hardly effusive. Hoggard was outbowled in the England Lions match against New Zealand by both Chris Tremlett and Graham Onions. There is a mood that other bowlers have overtaken Hoggard. Tremlett is too prone to injury – another back spasm dawned last week – but in three Tests against India last summer his menacing bounce gave him the look and feel of an international bowler.

Onions, learning all the time, took eight wickets to help Durham beat Yorkshire, a much better return Harmison's. Onions has developed real zip. These are good problems to have. But selectors must resolve them, not stand by hoping they might sort themselves out.

Perhaps on this occasion they got lucky. If Flintoff had played – which would indeed have been bold – the probability is that James Anderson would have been omitted from the XI. In the event, Anderson played, and the one who showed up at Lord's was the one who bowled straight and with enough late swing to bother good players. He and the engaging Ryan Sidebottom, a deserved recipient of the England player of the year award, look good together.

It was fascinating to hear Anderson dissect his form this week. For 20 candid minutes it was almost a long dark night of the soul. Here was a young man who knew that he bowled like a god one match and a dog the next and was desperately trying to address the inconsistency.

Tellingly, he let slip that his bowling action was back to where it was when he started out as a fiery young thing from Lanca-shire with the world at his feet (from Burnley thirds to the World Cup in a year, as Nasser Hussain famously put it). So the eyes are pointing to the pitch at the point of delivery, as if he were a man looking for a lost tenner.

Anderson had spent two or three years amending this to avoid long-term injury but he got injured anyway. If he can trade three or four good years for an injury somewhere down the line he might consider it good business. He offered a brief insight into a bowler's mind, how small margins can tear you apart. But he knew, he insisted, what he was capable of. The selectors might think that he deserves a run in the side.

There are some skilful bowlers around now – upliftingly, the master of reverse swing, Simon Jones, although still in the embryonic stage of career rebuilding, twice took five wickets in an innings last week – and Miller and his men may be on the right side of being spoiled for choice. Sooner or later, there has to be Miller's team.

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
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

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits