Unusual yes; surprising no. At the beginning of his tenure as England's coach, David Lloyd outlined his desire to ensure that practice did not become a joyless chore, hinting that, when the time was right, he would occasionally scrap nets in favour of allowing tired bodies to idle away. The method is bound to have its detractors and, if England lose their second Texaco game at Edgbaston today, the "practice puritans" will no doubt chorus their disapproval.
Lloyd has nearly always waited for the right moment to introduce some of his more radical notions. Recently he got players to write down the things they thought they were good at, and yesterday's letter from Chris Lewis in the Times, was met with wholehearted approval, not least because it appeared to be written in the first and not the third person.
His latest clarion call is for England to express themselves more on the field, particularly when things are going well. "We won with something to spare on Thursday," he said yesterday, before joining his captain and Robert Croft on a trout lake near Evesham. "The style was there. Now I want some swagger as well. Look at Pakistan. They are a fanatical side in the right sense of the word. They perform with real passion. I'd like a piece of that for England - a slice of that pizza.
"Let's have a bit of razzmatazz and if someone comes up with a brilliant piece of fielding let him know. When Alan Mullally came into the dressing- room at the start of the summer, he sat in the corner and said nothing. Now he's settled, he's completely barmy. A real character."
However, with a captain whose minimum of fuss epitomises the dourer qualities of our island race, any sudden transformation into a team infected with the screaming abdabs, will seem a little disingenuous.
Not to a player like Surrey's vice-captain, Adam Hollioake, whose Australian outlook and bloodline almost guarantee extrovert on-field displays of emotion. "You have to play the game hard," reckons Hollioake, who could make his debut this morning in place of Ronnie Irani. "I'm quite brash - like an Aussie, as people in this country might say. Maybe I can be over-aggressive at times. But you can't play with fear in your heart."
Hollioake, a man of resolutely Australian stock, is a great admirer of a certain Aussie all-rounder. "My ambition is to be England's long term No 6 like Steve Waugh. It's a position England have not filled for I don't know how long."
Whether or not Hollioake gets a chance to state his case will depend on the pitch. Edgbaston's fissures possess almost volcanic fire. The groundsman, in a bid to prevent the pitch cracking, has soaked it in order to keep the moisture content high. After recent rain, too, the pitch is likely to start damp, which is likely to favour the side bowling first.
ENGLAND SQUAD (v Pakistan, second Texaco Trophy One-day international, Edgbaston, today): M A Atherton (Lancashire, capt), N V Knight (Warwickshire), A J Stewart (Surrey, wkt), G P Thorpe (Surrey), M P Maynard (Glamorgan), G D Lloyd (Lancashire), A J Hollioake (Surrey), R C Irani (Essex), R D B Croft (Glamorgan), D Gough (Yorkshire), D W Headley (Kent), A D Mullally (Leicestershire), P D Martin (Lancashire).
PAKISTAN SQUAD: Aamir Sohail, Saeed Anwar, Ijaz Ahmed, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Salim Malik, Wasim Akram (capt), Moin Khan or Rashid Latif (wkt), Mushtaq Ahmed, Waqar Younis, Ata-ur-Rehman, Saqlain Mushtaq, Shadab Kabir, Asif Mujtaba.
Umpires: M J Kitchen (Eng), P Willey (Eng). TV replay umpire: A A Jones (Eng).
Match referee: P Van der Merwe (SA).Reuse content