Selectors in search of young blood - Cricket - Sport - The Independent

Selectors in search of young blood

England could have been forgiven for spending yesterday basking in the accomplishment of their six-wicket success over Zimbabwe at Lord's, a victory whichmaintained their encouraging record of losing just two of their last 11 one-day internationals since the winter.

England could have been forgiven for spending yesterday basking in the accomplishment of their six-wicket success over Zimbabwe at Lord's, a victory whichmaintained their encouraging record of losing just two of their last 11 one-day internationals since the winter.

However the captain,Nasser Hussain, was refusing to rest on his laurels, preferringinstead to focus on the future and the need to introduce fresh blood into the team's one-day plans as England attempt to evolve into a side capable of challenging the best in the world.

Saturday's win also ended a worrying run of defeats in finals of one-day tournaments having been beaten by Sri Lanka two years ago in the Emirates Trophy and losing out toAustralia and South Africa during their last two winter tours.

But with only threemembers of yesterday's final line-up under 30 - Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Flintoff and Darren Gough - England's management know there is a need to unearth new talent if they are to become realistic contenders for the next World Cup, in South Africa in 2003.

The Somerset left-hander Marcus Trescothick was the major find of the tournament, but others like Paul Franks, who had a disappointing debut against West Indies at Trent Bridge last Thursday, may have to be bedded in.

"There are plenty of things we still have to work on,"Hussain stressed. "We constantly have to try to add youth and energy to the side.

"If you look at what someone like Marcus Trescothick has brought to the side, we have to keep looking at new people. You have to have two-dimensional cricketers. You have to haveenergy in the field.

"We have to improve on our chasing of scores and building partnerships when we'rebatting and there are plenty of areas we have to improve on if we're going to beat sides like South Africa and Australia and Pakistan."

Hussain's words will act as a warning to an experienced squad who are unlikely to last the course until the next World Cup.

Their biggest test will come over the next year when they face three one-day internationals in Pakistan and Sri Lanka during the winter before another triangular tournament next summer involvingPakistan and Australia which is expected to present a far tougher examination than they have faced this season.

Stewart is their oldest and most experienced player and at present, is also the most crucial to their one-day game planhaving been named player of the tournament with anaggregate of 408 runs.

His 97 in Saturday's final left him just three short of joining Pakistan's Zaheer Abbas and Saeed Anwar as only the third player in history to score three successive one-day international centuries.

He has also lost none of his effectiveness behind the stumps as his six catches against Zimbabwe at Old Trafford, equalling Adam Gilchrist's world record in a one-dayinternational, demonstrates.

But for how much longer Stewart can continue being the linchpin of England's side is very much open to question and even the man himself, despite a disciplined training regime, has not thought about the next World Cup.

"I've not even thought about the World Cup - you're talking 30-odd Test matches away and probably 50-odd one-day games," he said.

"I'm just trying to finish this series against West Indies and hopefully get selected thiswinter for both styles ofcricket and carry on from there, you can't look too far ahead.

"I've had a good two or three weeks and I'll try and maintain that form and if I'm playing well, that helps Nasser and his team.

"This series has gone very well for me, but I'm not going to get carried away - it's one good series. I want to get stuck into the last three Testmatches now and help beat the West Indies for the first time in a long while."

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