England will announce their World Cup squad of 15 players at The Oval on Wednesday. As David Graveney unveils the nominated players he may be surprised by the accompanying air of expectancy.
Although it would be pushing it to suggest that the world will be hanging on his every word, the utter indifference which seemed likely only seven days ago has been replaced. Three consecutive wins in the CB Series in Australia, including two against the hosts, have done wonders for belief and anticipation. They have also quashed the bizarre notion of recalling Darren Gough although his waistline has been expanding as certainly as his pace has been diminishing.
Gough owes England nothing, but his selection would have been a grave indictment of the current crop and their coaches. Michael Vaughan, who will be rightly named as captain despite his hamstring concerns, said that the turn-around in Australia showed that a week was a long time in cricket, thus ensuring that he will always be bracketed with the former prime minister Harold Wilson, who was also from Yorkshire.
The selection of the squad should be astonishingly straightforward. The explosive hitter Mal Loye has probably not done enough and England appear to have developed a different strategy at the top of the order to fit their attributes.
They have to decide whether to take Ashley Giles or an extra seamer, depending on what part slow bowling is likely to play in the Caribbean, and should probably eschew Stuart Broad precisely because he is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Gough. Chris Read's absence will merely compound his misfortune of being the most shabbily treated player of recent times, never being given sufficient chance to fail or succeed.
Possible World Cup 15: M P Vaughan (capt), A J Strauss, E C Joyce, I R Bell, K P Pietersen, P D Collingwood, A Flintoff, J W M Dalrymple, P A Nixon, L E Plunkett, S I Mahmood, J Lewis, J M Anderson, A F Giles, M S Panesar.Reuse content