White preferred to Irani

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The Independent Online
By picking Craig White ahead of Ronnie Irani for the four-day match against a Select XI which began here today, England have all but admitted that they got it wrong four months ago. Irani went to Zimbabwe while White was with England in Australia. Now the pecking order has been reversed.

Two winters ago, White was flown home from the tour of Australia after ripping a muscle in his side. Twelve months later, having been part of the A trip to Pakistan he found himself heading to South Africa as a reinforcement for the one-day internationals. Then, after making it to the World Cup, he broke down again and flew home early.

This winter, White received a summons to fly from Melbourne to Harare after Irani complained of back problems and was pitched into the final Test against Zimbabwe less than 72 hours after stepping off another plane.

"I've been to a few different places just lately," White said. "What I'd like now is a settled spell, free from injuries. I'm looking at the rest of this winter as a fresh start."

David Lloyd, the England coach, is confident that Mike Atherton will put his recent run of bad form benind him. "Mike has not been at the top of his form but he's working like stink to put that right," he said. "A poor run is disappointing for anyone but when you are the captain, it's probably a little more serious. A good score from him now would quieten things down a bit."

England have again chosen Alec Stewart as wicketkeeper so Jack Russell is idle again after a brief appearance behind the stumps last Friday.

ENGLAND (v NZ Select XI): *M A Atherton, N V Knight, A J Stewart, N Hussain, G P Thorpe, J P Crawley, C White, D G Cork, A R Caddick, C E W Silverwood, P C R Tufnell.