If it was feeble of the selectors to leave Phil Tufnell out all summer, it is brave of them to do a U-turn now

Raymond Illingworth's final performance as chairman of selectors was much like his stint as a whole: a strange mixture of the good, the bad and the plain Illy.

The best thing is that Phil Tufnell is finally off the blacklist. That Tufnell was unofficially suspended for the past 18 months was confirmed when Illingworth said that he had "served a long sentence". (If the suspension had been official, there would have been an outcry, and it would have been thrown out on appeal.)

If it was feeble of the selectors to leave Tufnell out all summer, it is brave of them to do a U-turn now. The line given to reporters when he was discussed but not selected for the first Test against Pakistan was that he could not be picked at home if the selectors were not prepared to take him on tour. Now it turns out that they were prepared to take him on tour - or, more likely, that they are feeling desperate about the state of their attack. The result is that one of the many odd aspects of Tufnell's career - the fact that he has played 16 Tests abroad, where he is supposed to be such a disruptive influence, and only six at home - will become even more pronounced.

The second-best thing is that Owais Shah is going on the A tour. I haven't seen him play, and it's puzzling that he has been preferred to David Sales, who has a similarly fine record with England's teen teams and has also made a Championship double-hundred. But the mere idea of picking a man - a boy, still not 18 - with only three first-class games behind him is exhilarating. It's the kind of thing other countries do and England don't. Which means it must be right. And it will be an excellent incentive to a generation of Anglo-Asians.

The other bit of good news is the promotion of Nasser Hussain. The best move Illingworth's panel ever made was this time last year when they brought Hussain out of the wilderness and made him captain of England A in Pakistan. He has not put a foot wrong since, and he now exudes authority as well as flair. Allowing him to leapfrog Alec Stewart is another bold, unEnglish move.

But you have to feel sorry for Stewart. If cricket had its equivalent of Footballer of the Year, Stewart would be the clear winner. Dropped for the first Test, he returned to become England's best batsman. At the same time, the county he leads are poised at last to convert their undoubted talents into a trophy or two. All this while his mother has been ill and his wife was having a difficult pregnancy. Stewart's reward is to be branded too old to be vice-captain at 33. There are two men on the selection panel who have been captain of England, apart from Atherton: Illingworth, who got the job at 36, and Graham Gooch, who got it at 35, lost it, and regained it at 36.

Now for the bad news. Faced with an embarrassment of would-be all-rounders, the selectors have gone for Ronnie Irani ahead of Adam Hollioake, who looks a better batsman, or Mark Ealham, who is a better bowler. The selectors, and especially Gooch, admire Irani's relish for the fight, but Hollioake has that, too. Irani's bowling was awfully hittable against India and Pakistan. As bowlers, in Tests he and Hollioake are just partnership-breakers. Nothing wrong with that, but it means that you must pick the better batsman of the two. Irani has made four hundreds in a 66-match career, Hollioake has 10 in 55. The gap is not wholly explained by the good batting strips at The Oval.

The second mistake is picking Chris Silverwood. He's an attractive choice for the same reasons as Shah, and you could argue that Illy is entitled to one last gamble. But there's no such thing as a free hunch. The price to be paid here is that England will have no one who can hurry the opposition. What the attack lacked this summer was edge. Devon Malcolm, as the County Championship has shown, can provide it. Perhaps Illy can be forgiven for not being that forgiving. But if the last place had to go to another English- type seamer, it should have been Glen Chapple or Dean Headley, who have both had good A tours, while Silverwood slotted in below them. The A team makes no sense if it is not used as a pipeline.

Which is not to say it shouldn't also be a rehabilitation centre. On the plus side, room has been found for Peter Such; but this is heavily outweighed by the omission of Mark Ramprakash. Hollioake will probably be a good captain of the A team, but little will be learnt about him in the process; whereas there was a wonderful opportunity to see if Ramprakash could be this year's Hussain. "It's up to the players," Illy kept saying at yesterday's press conference, "to show what they can do." But how can you show a big-match temperament if you're not even in the second XI?

Tim de Lisle is editor of 'Wisden Cricket Monthly'

News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

JavaScript Developer (C++ / C# / HTML, Java Angular.js) London

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A world leading business intellig...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition