Headley set for the England call-up

The England selectors, clearly not content with the perks of the job, are continuing to explore their powers over the counties. After getting the odd player a game off between Tests they are now asking clubs, as in the case of Kent's Dean Headley against Cambridge University, to pick players that might otherwise have been rested. It is a reversal that might not prove popular with the player concerned, though in Headley's case it could well be the passport to a first Test cap at Old Trafford next week.

The request, which, rain permitting, will double as a fitness test, came after the selectors met up with Mike Atherton and David Lloyd at The Belfry on Wednesday. With Mike Gatting and Graham Gooch playing more than 200 miles apart on Saturday, the squad for the third Test was probably finalised as well. Only a few late calls to check up on Devon Malcolm's badly bruised foot and the result of the cortisone injection on Nasser Hussain's elbow, will be made before tomorrow's announcement.

Depending upon the fitness of those two players, England are likely to add rather than subtract to the team that played at Lord's. Only Adam Hollioake is likely to be missing, the Surrey captain proving superfluous to a squad whose batting options - despite the first innings collapse at Lord's - were always likely to be set in stone, once Mark Butcher had battled his way to 87 in the last Test.

Continuity, so long a catchword of this selection panel, may therefore be about to be tested. But while the fortuitous draw from the Lord's Test allows them to be loyal to the batsmen, the unknown nature of the damp strip currently hiding beneath the covers at Old Trafford will have persuaded them to increase the pace bowling choices available.

Unless the Harmattan suddenly blows in over Manchester, those front-runners are likely to be Headley, Gloucestershire's Mike Smith and Essex's Ashley Cowan. Of the three, it is only Headley who has seen action on the field of play for England and although his forays have been limited to one-day internationals, there are those who feel it is time to reward the glowing apprenticeship served with England A.

None would have been closer than Gatting last Tuesday in the NatWest Trophy match, and the selector (and Middlesex batsman) was said to be impressed as Headley's 3 for 31 helped keep Kent in a game far longer than their timid score deserved.

There is little doubt that when he bowls Headley can be brilliant. It is only his robustness that is questioned, particularly after a recent scan for stress fractures to his back proved clear.

Next in line would almost certainly be Smith, a left-arm swing bowler and at present the highest wicket-taker in the country. A quiet, undemonstrative man, his lack of height (5ft 9in) may go against him, despite the welcoming rough he would produce for Robert Croft outside the right-hander's off- stump.

At 6ft 4in, however, the boldest choice would be the 21-year old Cowan; not because of what he can and cannot do with a ball, but because no one is quite sure what goes on between those loppy red ears of his.

Despite the dopey demeanour, his is a burgeoning talent which should be blooded sooner rather than later. Certainly his attributes - steep bounce and natural shape away from the right-hander - are better suited to Test cricket than the other two bowlers and should be honed forthwith.

While the whole of England contemplates sporting and popfest ruin, the wettest June for 15 years continues to assist England's chances of regaining the Ashes. Having helped the home side overcome their Lord's bogey by reducing play to a manageable vignette, the persistent deluge has continued its patriotic alliance by confining the Australians to barracks, where the newly found bounce to their stride will have begun to get foot rot.

Nothing eats away at morale than being cooped up with blokes you have already spent a great deal of time with. While some like Glenn McGrath will catch up on some well earned rest, those who have not seen the middle recently, will be questioning the sanity of yet more training and indoor nets.

Australia are desperate to give players such as Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and the now recovered Jason Gillespie some cricket. However, with more rain forecast, Gillespie may not get the run out that he needs and Australia will demand.

POSSIBLE ENGLAND SQUAD (v Australia, Old Trafford, Thursday): M A Atherton (capt), M A Butcher, A J Stewart (wkt), N Hussain, G P Thorpe, J P Crawley, M A Ealham, R D B Croft, D Gough, A R Caddick, D E Malcolm, P C R Tufnell, D W Headley, A P Cowan.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor