Worcestershire trio called up for Champions Trophy charge
Saturday 07 August 2004
England's selectors have identified Worcestershire as the county to inspire their ailing one-day side. Following a miserable NatWest series campaign in June and July the selectors have recalled three players from the West Midland side - Kabir Ali, Gareth Batty and Vikram Solanki - in the hope they will transform Michael Vaughan's team from plodding underachievers into Champions Trophy winners.
There is little doubt these players will add athleticism and sparkle to England in the field, an element that was desperately lacking five weeks ago. But one has to question whether they are capable of competing against the best in the world, something they will have to do if England are to finish off their busiest summer of international cricket in style.
Before hosting September's "mini World Cup", England play India in three one-day games. Playing against the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly they will get a good idea of what winning will take and it will be interesting to see how they fare.
Batty has had an excellent season for Worcestershire and fully deserves his recall. The off-spinning all-rounder has taken 40 wickets in the county championship and is rightly considered the second-best spinner in the country.
His team-mates, though, have much more to prove. Solanki has also had a good summer - he averages 41 in the county championship and 57 in domestic one-day cricket, excluding Twenty20 - but he is yet to convince people he has the discipline to make it at the highest level. A brilliant 106 against South Africa at the Oval last year highlighted what he is capable of but in his 20 one-day innings for England he has only scored more than 30 on four occasions.
"The selectors discussed at length the way we want to play," said David Graveney, the chairman of selectors. "We identified the need for more depth in our batting and an increase in mobility in the field. So we recalled Vikram Solanki because he gives us options at the top of the order and he is an outstanding fielder."
Ali missed the first half of the season with a double hernia but has recently returned to full fitness. The fast-bowler made his Test debut against South Africa last summer but like Solanki still has to turn potential into performance.
"It is a brilliant day for us," said Tom Moody, the Worcestershire coach. "We are thrilled to have three guys back playing for England. Watching your players represent their country is the greatest reward a county can have."
Robert Key, Ian Blackwell and Sajid Mahmood have made way for the Worcester triumvirate and it was a surprise to see Yorkshire's Anthony McGrath keep his place. His selection deprived Ian Bell of a well-deserved chance to shine. The Warwickshire batsman will have to wait until this winter's tour of South Africa to gain his chance.
England squad and fixtures
England: M P Vaughan (c), Kabir Ali, J D Anderson, G J Batty, P D Collingwood, A Flintoff, A F Giles, D Gough, S J Harmison, G O Jones, A McGrath, V S Solanki, A J Strauss, M E Trescothick.
Friday 10 September
England v Zimbabwe, Edgbaston; New Zealand v USA, The Oval
Saturday 11 September
India v Kenya, The Rose Bowl
Sunday 12 September
South Africa v Bangladesh, Edgbaston
Monday 13 September
Australia v USA, The Rose Bowl
Tuesday 14 September
Pakistan v Kenya, Edgbaston; Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, The Oval
Wednesday 15 September
West Indies v Bangladesh, The Rose Bowl
Thursday 16 September
Australia v New Zealand, The Oval
Friday 17 September
Sri Lanka v England, The Rose Bowl
Saturday 18 September South Africa v West Indies, The Oval
Sunday 19 September
India v Pakistan, Edgbaston
Tuesday 21 September
Semi-final A v D, Edgbaston
Wednesday 22 September
Semi-final B v C, The Rose Bowl
Saturday 25 September
Final, The Oval
There are reserve days for all matches. This means that there will be no Duckworth/Lewis recalculations on the first scheduled match day. If a match cannot be completed on the scheduled day, play will continue into the following day where recalculations can be made if required.
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