Andrew Caddick, John Crawley and Dominic Cork will not have been among the least apprehensive of the England players taking part in the last Test match of the summer. Of course, it is important that England should win here and obliterate the memory of Headingley, which tarnished the otherwise good performances of this summer. But, being only human, the eye of the three Cs will have been on Australia as much as India.
Caddick will probably have felt that he had less to worry about than the other two. He has suffered from injury this year and was forced to miss two Test matches. When he returned at Headingley, he bowled appallingly, being unable to find either the right line or length.
One of the troubles with Caddick is that he wears his heart on his sleeve and never leaves anyone in the slightest doubt if he feels that the odds are stacked against him. One can only wonder if this apparent discontent carries over into the dressing-room and, if it does, what effect it has.
Before choosing him for Australia, the selectors will want to be as certain as they can about his continued fitness, just as they will be about Darren Gough's. The early wicket of Virender Sehwag on the second day will have done as much good to his morale as it clearly did for his body language. None the less, Caddick must make sure that he gets it right over the last three days of this match for there are a number of young contenders in the wings.
Crawley has already had two relatively modest tours of Australia which were partially redeemed by good innings in Tests in Adelaide and Sydney – he is good against the turning ball. His problem is at the other end of the scale. Glenn McGrath and company have him marked down as one of those who is not always in control against their pace and lift on and around the off stump. They will continually bowl to him down this dreaded corridor.
The runs Crawley has made in the two series this summer against Sri Lanka and India may therefore turn out to be nothing more than red herrings. Would it not be more sensible to take Mark Ramprakash who was altogether more effective when England were in Australia four years ago? Or is his personality and somewhat questionable temperament considered to be extra baggage the team cannot afford? So far Crawley has done nothing to advance the cause of his selection in this fourth Test match.
Finally, there is the uncomfortable thought that Cork's competent half century in England's first innings at the Oval may have furthered his case for selection for Australia. Cork's main occupation is to take wickets and it is here that he has been found wanting.
The outswinger, if it goes at all, does so much too early in the flight to be dangerous. He was no real threat in Australia four years ago and is highly unlikely to be now. If the need for Cork has been seriously discussed, one hopes the greater need for Craig White will have won the day.
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