Recall of Caddick takes the strain off Hussain's speed attack

Angus Fraser
Thursday 30 January 2014 05:26

Nasser Hussain will not be the only man happy to see Andrew Caddick return to the England fold for Thursday's third Test against India at Headingley.

After Caddick's two months on the side-lines with a rib injury, Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff – the two England bowlers to have played in all five Tests this summer – will share a huge sigh of relief that the heavy workload they have been carrying will now be shared by a relatively fresh third pair of legs.

Most attention over the next couple of days will concern the injury to Flintoff's groin and whether he can prove himself fit enough to play during England's build up to the Test. It only makes sense to play the 23-year-old Lancashire all-rounder if it can be guaranteed that he will not make the hernia he is reportedly suffering with any worse. If playing on only forces him to miss the ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka then it is a risk worth taking but, if the consequences could affect his participation in Australia, then forget it.

The going gets tough at this stage of the season, not just for bowlers but for batsmen as well. The body is beginning to tire and the mind is looking to the horizon for some sort of break. For England's cricketers, though, with the Champions Trophy, an Ashes Tour and the World Cup to come, the prospect of putting the feet up for a couple of weeks is more than seven months away.

With these tours to look forward to and a series against India to win there is plenty to play for and countless reasons not to let the season taper away. The captain will say that he and his side will look no further than the next game but you can rest assured players will be thinking about, and assessing their chances of, being selected for the winter tours.

There is a reasonable chance that England's selectors will announce their squad for the tour to Australia before the fourth Test at The Oval, so this week's match offers those who are yet to have their names written down in ink a last chance to impress.

The most competitive area for places is in the fast-bowling department. The negative aspect of this summer's appalling list of injuries is that England have not been able to put out their strongest bowling attack against either Sri Lanka or India. The flip side is England have been forced to have a look at some young fast bowlers. No one could have predicted that Alex Tudor, Simon Jones and Stephen Harmison would all have played Test cricket this summer. But they have and each has been the cause of encouragement.

In a year's time, when it is likely that Caddick and Darren Gough will have drifted off into the sunset, this seasons trauma's may be looked upon as a blessing in disguise.

With football's Premiership getting underway it is noticeable that pundits are already talking about the benefits of large squads and the ability to rotate players. England now have as large a squad of players as they have had for a long time and it may not be too long before we start hearing the same terminology and tactics used in cricket.

The captain's job would not be one to envy, though. It would take a brave man to tell Andrew Flintoff he is being rested for his own good when he is desperate to play. This could be not unlike the dilemma they face this week.

ENGLAND SQUAD (Third Test v India, Headingley, starting Thursday): N Hussain (c), M P Vaughan, R W T Key, M A Butcher, J P Crawley, A J Stewart (wkt), A Flintoff, A F Giles, A J Tudor, A R Caddick, M J Hoggard, S J Harmison, D G Cork.

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