Martin looks perfect for Illingworth

INSIDE CRICKET
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The Independent Online
This is an important season for me. I have been given some of the responsibility for coaching and captaining the youngsters in the Second XI, it is my benefit year, and I'll be turning out for the First XI if we get into the `sticky stuff' during the long summer ahead. I'll be involved with a lot more of what goes on at a county cricket club than at any stage in my career to date at Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.

It's a challenge and hopefully the experiences ahead - and my past international experience - will give you an insight into first-class English cricket. Professional cricketers can be very secretive, but I'll even let you know if one of the horses I own in partnership is in form, although it might have to be just after it wins.

For now, I'm sitting down a lot. I've ruptured a hamstring. We'll keep medical reports to a minimum; it hurts.

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The selection of Peter Martin for the England one-day squad wasn't such a surprise on the county circuit. Peter was my choice for the A tour this winter. He is a good, highly regarded county bowler, who at well over six feet can get a bit of bounce from the wicket. In many respects, he is a lot like Peter Lever, the new England bowling coach, an old fashioned seamer. Very much an Illingworth type of bowler.

Alan Wells being picked was a greater surprise. Even he, himself, thought he had no chance of selection. I thought they might have gone for Kent's Trevor Ward, who has been full of early-season runs in the Championship and Benson and Hedges zonal games.

I think England can win the one-day series. The bottom line has to be that the West Indies are not as good as they were. England face a shrewd competitor in Andy Roberts, the tourists' manager, who I played with at Leicestershire. It takes him only one good look at the batsman to work out his weaknesses. A deep-thinking cricketer, he'll be like a playing 12th man for the West Indies.

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Of future international prospects around, I was very impressed with the young Somerset opening bat, Marcus Trescothick, who scored a hundred against us a fortnight ago in the County Championship. I hope Test and County Cricket Board rules don't get in the way of his progress this year. Marcus, who stood up very straight in making his hundred, captains the England Under-19 team and seems sure to be picked for the three-match series against South Africa that starts in July. He'll have to be released by his county for it according to the current guidelines. If push comes to shove he could even make his Test debut this year and playing Under-19 will only retard his development if, in the process, he is denied first-class cricket. What a prospect like him needs is County Championship experience.

Some excellent cricket is played at Under-19 level. It is great for young players just coming into Second XI cricket to have a chance of representing their country, but Trescothick's circumstances are different. When I played Under-19 in 1974, Somerset again, funnily enough, were asked to release Ian Botham to play but the county was entitled to refuse and did. Unless the selectors overlook him, which seems unlikely, today's amended rule means Trescothick will miss out on exactly what he needs at the moment. As they stand, the rules are inflexible. There must be scope for exceptions.

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Lever and John Edrich, England's newly-appointed coaches, have not been on the scene for the time that I have been a professional cricketer, so I don't know very much about them. It does seem strange, though, to appoint Edrich as the main batting coach. Ray Illingworth said he was always going to be involved as the left-handers' specialist, but as overall coach? How many left-handers are going to be picked? At least Graham Thorpe should be pleased.

I think their ages are unimportant. (Edrich is 57 and Lever 54). I expect a lot of their work will involve motivating players and preparing them mentally. At Test level, what you see is what you get. Technical coaching and the fitness to be able to demonstrate good technique is more important when you are coaching 14, 15, 16, 17-year-olds.

If the pair of them can sharpen up the England team's thinking then they might make a difference. John was a cussed old left hander and if he brings a bit of that into the dressing room then we should benefit. Likewise Peter.

The county coaching grapevine will say, very quickly, whether they are doing a good job. Until I hear, I'll sit on the fence for this one, unusual for me.

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