England aim to tame Tendulkar

It is some measure of how appalling the last six months have been for English cricket that the Texaco Trophy is now regarded important enough to have its own customised squad of players.

England, normally fierce advocates of Test cricket, have gone further in this direction than ever before, but although Raymond Illingworth and his panel have distanced the spectre of the World Cup with an enlightened selection here, the chairman has reopened other wounds with his ill-timed comments concerning Devon Malcolm's performance in last winter's Cape Town Test.

Illingworth, who was not at The Oval yesterday as England limbered up for the first of three one-day matches against India, has a habit of speaking his mind, but even he might have balked at the timing of his latest salvo. The Test and County Cricket Board almost certainly did, and he should be appearing in a committee room at Lord's soon.

Michael Atherton, looking relaxed after a long fielding session, refused to be drawn, saying he did not want to rake over old ground or dwell on the past. "It's at the back of my mind. At the moment I'm just looking for a better tomorrow," he said.

That day, despite the presence of their enthusiastic and innovative new coach, David Lloyd, will dawn only if England start winning. However, although most modern sportsmen will claim that winning is the only habit that matters, it is one England appeared to have kicked some time ago.

Since beating the West Indies 2-1 in the Texaco Trophy this time last year, England have won just three out of 13 one-day games, and two of those were against the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates.

As such, even the most optimistic fan might be hard pressed to come up with any of the usual positive things that get trotted out at this time of year, despite England's 58 per cent win rate in all one-day matches played at home since 1984.

And yet if there is a team that comes close to matching England in the despair stakes at the moment it is India, whose crushing World Cup semi- final defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in Calcutta still lingers. They, too, are under pressure to deliver to an expectant public.

The man feeling the brunt of that pressure is India's captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, in the wake of his World Cup semi-final decision to put Sri Lanka in to bat on a pitch which subsequently broke up, along with the Indian batting.

Yesterday, after practice and still nursing a sore finger, he insisted that he had not been panicked into a drastic rethink. "Just because we played badly in one match, it doesn't mean you have to change your whole approach."

That approach, as is the fashion these days, includes playing a pinch- hitter, who is Sachin Tendulkar, one of the world's finest batsman. The wisdom of this was self-evident during the World Cup when Tendulkar flayed the bowling to all parts of the subcontinent.

However, on England's early season pitches, particularly with cloud and rain around, it may not be the most sensible thing to do. Should he fail early on - as even he might - the confidence of those batting behind could quite easily plummet.

For that reason, Atherton will probably attack him with the outswing of Dominic Cork and Peter Martin. India have admitted they need big scores to defend. On the evidence so far, Tendulkar is the man most likely to provide them and therefore might be better off at No 3 or 4.

In their warm-up games, India's bowling has for the most part been gentle and uninspiring. Only Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble have looked dangerous and they will head an attack that will probably be joined by the improving Paras Mhanbrey and the steady seam of Venkatesh Prasad.

In contrast England's problems will not be about who to pick, but who to leave out, particularly among the all-rounders. With intermittent rain falling at The Oval yesterday and with the pitch under wraps, those decisions will be made this morning, though it looks as if Ronnie Irani and Mark Ealham will miss out. Both are certain to play at least once in the series.

The only certainty - regarding the new faces - is that Alistair Brown will open the innings and will be given the licence to play as he does for Surrey. If the pitch is true, it should make for some interesting viewing, especially as Neil Smith, another who pinch-hits for his county, is earmarked for No 3 should Brown fail.

This, it appears, is all part of the new fluidity that Atherton and Lloyd want. As Atherton admitted, the widespread use of pinch-hitters keeps raising the ceiling for scores in one-day cricket. "When I started, 240 was a good score. Now it's only a moderate one." Over the next three matches, we shall see if he is right.

ENGLAND (from): M A Atherton (Lancashire, capt), A D Brown (Surrey), G A Hick (Worcestershire), G P Thorpe (Surrey), M P Maynard (Glamorgan), R C Irani (Essex), A J Stewart (Surrey, wkt), C C Lewis (Surrey), D G Cork (Derbyshire), N M K Smith (Warwickshire), P J Martin (Lancashire), D Gough (Yorkshire), M A Ealham (Kent).

INDIA (probable): V Rathore, S R Tendulkar, N S Sidhu, M Azharuddin (capt), S V Manjreker, A D Jadeja, N R Mongia (wkt), A Kumble, J Srinath, P L Mhanbrey, B K Prasad.

Umpires: R Julian (Eng) and P Willey (Eng).

Match referee: C Smith (West Indies).

The opening day of the County Championship match between Sussex and Middlesex at Horsham was abandoned yesterday without a ball being bowled.

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all failed
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

LSA Level 3 required in Caerphilly

£50 - £60 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: O...

Welsh Year 6 Teacher required in Barry

£100 - £110 per day + Plus travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Welsh Teacher Year 2 required in Caerphilly

£100 - £105 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?