Trescothick lined up for the real Test

Stephen Brenkley feels Somerset's opener has earned his big chance

In a revolutionary departure from normal practice which suggests either that they have seen more than, or not nearly, enough, England's selectors will announce their squad for the Third Test tomorrow. This is almost a week earlier than expected and prompted the thought that the team must be going to Manchester, as they used to embark on overseas trips, by boat.

In a revolutionary departure from normal practice which suggests either that they have seen more than, or not nearly, enough, England's selectors will announce their squad for the Third Test tomorrow. This is almost a week earlier than expected and prompted the thought that the team must be going to Manchester, as they used to embark on overseas trips, by boat.

The players, at least, will not be able to complain of lack of preparation time. They will have an extra practice session a week tomorrow and none of them will play for their counties in the next round of matches beginning on Friday.

Unusual and unexpected all this may be but in its way the decision makes sense. It seems to demonstrate certainty of thought and gives no opportunity for any Johnny Come Lately to give them an old-fashioned last-minute nudge in the Championship next weekend. So much, indeed, for the Championship.

The announcement of the 12, 13 or 14 players will also serve to reignite immediate interest in a Test series which is tied dramatically at 1-1 but has already been on hold for three weeks. Now, on with the stuff of summer. Just before leaving the one-day tournament, however, it will, if the gods are kind, be recalled for generations as that which gave a the world a new England player.

Marcus Trescothick took to the international arena quicker than an addict to a needle and his long-anticipated failure will not preclude his presence in tomorrow's line-up. Much has already been said and written about the Somerset left-hander's batting method. He does not move his feet, he is prone to trouble outside the off-stump in the corridor of uncertainty, his shot selection might be found wanting.

That, for the moment, is so much hi-falutin' poppycock. Trescothick may fail in the long-term and he will certainly never find the international game as easy as it might have occasionally seemed in his first month but he has done more than enough to deserve an opportunity to become Michael Atherton's 14th opening partner.

There will probably be one other batting change, as well as a bowling alteration,to the side, who triumphed by two wickets in the excruciatingly tense, low-scoring contest at Lord's. Nasser Hussain will return in the middle order. It is also possible, though improbable, that Graham Thorpe will be summoned. Thorpe's class is in no doubt but he has not put it through its paces enough lately yet to merit a place.

England's batting has not been good enough for some time and the fact bears repeating that in their last 63 Test matches and 116 innings they have been dismissed for below 200 on 36 occasions. More often than not they have failed to take a first-innings lead. There is not a queue of batsmen waiting to take their place in the team but it is important, while nodding firmly in the direction of continuity, that there is pressure for places.

Thus, the two men who will make way in a winning side for Trescothick and Hussain are Mark Ramprakash and Nick Knight. The experiment with Ramprakash as opener always seemed to have an element of last-ditch about it and was never going to be the cure for cancer. He should have stayed in the middle order, where he had done nothing wrong. It is possible his recent county form may save him but he will not be holding his breath on that, or for a recall in the future.

Nick Knight, having also narrowly been found wanting on bad pitches, will be the other one to go. The seam bowlers should be unchanged. Matthew Hoggard is the latest fast bowler to emerge quickly, it seems. Whither Ed Giddins, man of the match in the First Test of the summer, and Steve Harmison? Robert Croft will be discarded. If his place goes as it might - albeit deservedly - to the left-arm spinner Ashley Giles (Lancashire have used three spinners at Old Trafford this summer), whither the selectors' faith in spinners turning it away from the West Indies left-handers?

Possible squad: N Hussain, M A Atherton, M E Trescothick, M P Vaughan, A J Stewart, G A Hick, A Flintoff, C White, A F Giles, A R Caddick, D Gough, A D Mullally, M J Hoggard.

Comments