The only thing more certain than Greece giving Cyprus 12 points at Saturday night's Eurovision Song Contest was the make-up of the England squad for the second Test against Sri Lanka at Edgbaston. The one surprise name to be announced on Saturday morning was that of Simon Jones, but the chances of the Glamorgan fast bowler playing are less than those of Greece giving their neighbours Turkey a solitary point in the above-mentioned contest.
Despite being unlikely to feature in the final XI, Jones, son of Jeff Jones, the former Glamorgan and England left-arm fast bowler, will gain useful experience from being with the squad as they prepare for the Test.
This will stand him in good stead for when his opportunity does come, which it may do sooner than he thinks if England's bowlers underperform at Edgbaston as they did at Lord's. His chance could possibly arrive in the third Test at Old Trafford where the wicket, if the groundsman Pete Marron gets it as he wants, will be quick and bouncy.
A cynical mind may suggest Jones' selection for Edgbaston is solely a gesture, an attempt by the selectors to show the door has not been slammed shut on young talent. The criticism they received a fortnight ago would have hurt but it will be encouraging to see some young legs running around at practice this week, rather than those which have been round the clock a few times.
However, it would be wrong to belittle the selection of a bowler who has impressed everyone, including Rod Marsh, the England cricket academy's head coach, during his winter in Adelaide. It is not just the pace he bowls at which has won admiring glances but also his attitude towards the demanding task of bowling fast.
Jones is nowhere near being the finished article but does possess the raw materials Nasser Hussain stated he was looking for at the conclusion of the first Test. Hussain expressed his desire for England to find young fast bowlers capable of making a difference on the sort of pitch we witnessed at Lord's. Jones is obviously looked on as a bowler to one day fill this gap.
In an ideal world, coaches and captains want to get the delicate balance right between players playing for their place and yet being able to relax and enjoy the feeling of being considered an integral part of the side. Tolerance is needed but it cannot last forever and Jones' selection will give a well-timed nudge to England's current attack, which has been disappointing on their last two outings.
It is important that the likes of Andrew Caddick and Matthew Hoggard are kept on their toes by some young thrusters. Whether you have taken over 200 wickets or just 34, you still have to perform on a consistent basis. The best teams in the world, like the best bowlers in the world, are consistent, they perform day in and day out and it is possible to count the number of bad days Glenn McGrath has had on the fingers of one hand.
Without Darren Gough England look like they need to play a fifth bowler in order to give Hussain the tools he needs to bowl Sri Lanka out twice. It is a slight gamble but one they can afford through the presence of Alec Stewart in the side. Moving Stewart up the order to six, at the expense of John Crawley, would strengthen the bowling and England know they need to take 20 wickets this week or else they may end up losing this series when Muttiah Muralitharan returns for the third Test. However, if his rehabilitation allows him to be fit by Thursday, which remains a possibility, England may have missed their best chance already.
ENGLAND SQUAD (Second Test v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston, Thursday): N Hussain (capt), M E Trescothick, M P Vaughan, M A Butcher, G P Thorpe, J P Crawley, A J Stewart (wkt), A Flintoff, D G Cork, A F Giles, A J Tudor, A R Caddick, M J Hoggard, S P Jones.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies