Trescothick's perfect solution to opening problem

After the England captain's praise of continuity of selection, as a factor in theirone-day success, it will beinteresting to see if David Graveney and his panel are similarly disposed towards the squad for the next Test match against the West Indies, which begins at Old Trafford on3 August.

After the England captain's praise of continuity of selection, as a factor in theirone-day success, it will beinteresting to see if David Graveney and his panel are similarly disposed towards the squad for the next Test match against the West Indies, which begins at Old Trafford on3 August.

Before Alec Stewart and coloured clothing diverted our attention, England won the last Test at Lord's in grippingcircumstances. But if that set up the series at 1-1, the fallibility of England's batting, withno one yet to pass fifty in four completed innings, has not been cured.

England's batting woes are not a recent phenomenon, but if one-day cricket has taken much of the blame for that, the recent triangular series,lambasted for splitting up the Tests, may yet turn up a trump or two.

For one thing, pitches may have dried out a bit more to become more batsman-friendly, while the discovery of Marcus Trescothick, could offerEngland more than a short-term solution to their opening problem. On the other hand, the selectors could promoteStewart back to partner Michael Atherton and bat Trescothick at six, with Michael Vaughan coming in at five.

Trescothick has done what all opportunists do well, which is to take your chance and make the most of a hot streak of form. If he is picked, and on his unflappability alone hedeserves to be, he will have to learn to eke out runs, whatever the circumstances.

In fact, if the selectorsbelieve he has potential, they must do it now, while Atherton is at the other end.

In the NatWest series just over, the left-hander looked an organised player. Indeed, apart from a loose shot in the final against Zimbabwe, and some discomfort when Reon King bowled around the wicket to him at Trent Bridge, he has looked a proper batsman, which is a rare find these days.

Of course, he did not faceeither Curtly Ambrose or Courtney Walsh, and as Mark Ramprakash - the man he is set to replace - can attest, it is adifferent game when they have the new ball in their hands.

Ramprakash, may well be the only casualty from the squad that assembled at Lord's three weeks ago. While few doubt his technical ability he still appears imprisoned by an emotional straitjacket thatprevents him from fulfilling his potential.

While it is too early to predict the exact nature of the pitch at Old Trafford, recent Tests have favoured bowlers who canreverse-swing the ball.

England's experts in this matter are Darren Gough and Craig White and while Andrew Flintoff's batting is beingaffected by his inability to bowl, it is surely White who mustassume the all-rounder's role if required. If not, then Nick Knight could be the man to come in if the extra batman is required.

Spin could also play a part, although England are unlikely to employ two spinners (Mike Watkinson and John Emburey), like they did last time the West Indies were there.

With Chris Schofield reportedly bowling poorly, Robert Croft will probably be told toresume where he left off atEdgbaston.

Alternatively, presuming both Vaughan and Graeme Hick in the side to provide off-spin, the left-arm of Ashley Giles might be more appealing, for purposes of variety as well as strengthening the lower order.

Hick, despite his 41 in the one-day final at Lord's, has not been in fine fettle. In fact, if it weren't for the impression that Duncan Fletcher wants Hick to tour this winter to counter the threat of spin, he might well have been dropped in favour of Graham Thorpe. Instead, Hick will almost certainly get the nod, while Thorpe continues his penance with Surrey.

ENGLAND SQUAD (possible): N Hussain (capt), M A Atherton, M E Trescothick, G A Hick, A J Stewart (Surrey, wkt), M P Vaughan, C White, D G Cork, R D B Croft, A R Caddick, D Gough, N V Knight,M Hoggard.

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