Are England back to square one?
, Andrew Strauss was yesterday named captain
for the one-dayers. The surprise inclusion was 32 year old all-rounder, Glen Chapple
, who hasn't played international cricket. Besides Chapple, five other players
would be making their one-day debuts: Tim Bresnan, James Dalrymple, Ed Joyce, Alex Loudon and Alastair Cook
. This merely gives England yet another opportunity to bleat about being inexperienced, in case Sri Lanka win.
A fairly telling stat about how unsettled England have been is that in their last 21 one-day internationals
, i.e. from the start of last year's NatWest Series
till the 7-game series against India
, 25 players have played for England.
When I analyzed the various players who turned out for England in those last 21 games, 16 out of those 25, played less than 10 games and 12 played less than 5. Now that's a startling indication of how unsettled the side has been. Various factors have resulted in why these numbers are as they are, including not being bothered about one-dayers, focussing on the Ashes, injuries etc. If England's management thought that using these many players would give them a good idea of who to pick and who to leave out, that thought can be perished. Among those who played were the likes of Shaun Udal
, Matthew Hoggard, Darren Gough and Ian Bell, who are really unlikely to figure in England's long-term plans for one-day cricket, if there are any, that is! Then again, perhaps we ought not to be surprised if those folks are picked for the World Cup!
Solanki, who featured regularly (albeit as a SuperSub) last year, hasn't been picked in this squad. He isn't injured. Can it be assumed that he's now out of favour? Matt Prior's role is still hard to define. He and Geraint Jones shouldn't be playing in the same game, since Prior is a wicket-keeper too. Will England be taking along two wicket-keepers to the 2007 World Cup?
I am also unsure about whether Michael Vaughan's ordinary one-day record
will be taken into account while deciding if he'll ever play one-dayers again. To give you an idea of how bad he is in the one-day game consider these numbers. In internationals, he averages 29, scores less than 25 runs every time he bats (1730 runs in 71 innings), has a strike rate of 69 and hasn't scored a single century, despite batting in the top 4 in 63 games. The unfortunate bit is that he isn't someone who murders attacks in domestic one-day cricket and can't translate those achievements in one-day internationals. His 'List-A' (non-international one-dayers) average is 30, scores 27 runs every time he bats and has made 3 centuries from 177 games. Should England still stick with him, just because he's their skipper?
Andrew Strauss is the only one to have played all of England's last 21 one-dayers. Next are Paul Collingwood (18), Geraint Jones & Andrew Flintoff (16), Marcus Trescothick (15), Kevin Pietersen (13), Vikram Solanki & Matthew Prior (11) and Ian Blackwell (10).
It's all good focussing on the Ashes, which is most certainly the test series England ought to try to win. But it may not be a bad idea getting a decent side together to play in the World Cup, taking it a little more seriously than they've so far
. Imagine putting in all this effort towards winning the Ashes and coming a cropper. Then they'd have neither the Ashes nor a World Cup!