Selectors resist calls for change
England’s selectors have resisted the temptation for change and named an unchanged squad to contest this week’s second npower Ashes Test against Australia at Edgbaston.
England’s 239-run defeat in the opening npower Test at Lord's has inevitably led to calls for an injection of new players in the last week.
However, the selectors have held their nerve by naming an unchanged 12-man squad which they believe can square the series at Edgbaston this week.
It is a bold statement of faith by the selectors and continues a consistency of selection which has helped their rise to number two in the world Test rankings behind Australia over the past two years.
“The selectors had a couple of chats between ourselves and we looked at how we played, but in essence the balance of the team has been the same for a couple of years now,” explained chairman of selectors David Graveney.
“We’ve had five bowlers, a wicket-keeper at seven and six batsmen and we looked at what we’ve gleaned from that and it’s time now to support the guys we’ve selected.
“It’s tough playing against Australia, they are a tough team to play against. After all the hype leading up to the first Test, I think everyone is realistic in the areas we need to improve upon.
“They know what we’ve got to do and the great strength of the team is their inner core. They get on, they’re mates together, and they’ve got great strength.”
The selectors’ loyalty towards the beaten Lord’s line-up could also have been influenced by their desire to give every player a chance to succeed and give them an extended run in the side.
That policy has helped in successive series victories over New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh and will have counted against Durham all-rounder Paul Collingwood, who was strongly touted for a call-up after scoring three centuries in a week.
“We talked about bringing someone else into the squad, but what would that achieve?” said Graveney. “That, to me, just muddies the waters and also what message does that send to the guys who were originally in the squad?
“We talked about it at length and decided the same 12 was the best way forward. A few of the lads have taken a bit of a battering in the media this week, but the true test is to get over that white line and get some wickets and start scoring runs.
“What quite rightly seems to have upset a lot of people was the manner of our demise on the Sunday afternoon. It was a little bit like England of old, but I’m sure that won’t happen again.”
Graveney confirmed he had spoken to Collingwood this week to explain the selectors’ reasoning, stressing: “I know how desperate he is to not be regarded as just a one-day player.
“He can do no more than he’s done and he was really the only person that we spoke about. He’s very much part of our squad and went to South Africa last winter and he’s been outstanding in recent weeks.”
He also denied having approached Graham Thorpe, who announced his retirement from international cricket just over a week ago after being overlooked for the first Test, to ask him to reconsider his decision.
Thorpe’s partner Amanda is due to give birth in the next few days and Graveney intends to contact the Surrey left-hander once that has happened to settle any misunderstandings over the last couple of weeks.
“In a perfect world we want him to stay available, but I fully respect his decision,” he said. “His life has moved on. He’s going to emigrate to Australia at the end of the season and as far as I am concerned and the selectors are concerned that door is shut, but in a respectful way not by slamming it in someone’s face.”
While Graveney and his fellow selectors have been discussing their options for Edgbaston, captain Michael Vaughan has once again called upon the services of coach Fletcher to try and rediscover his form after scoring just seven runs in his two innings at Lord’s.
Fletcher travelled north to Leeds this week to oversee one-on-one coaching sessions, which England hope has the same result as the last time they teamed up in such a fashion when Vaughan hit centuries in both innings against West Indies at Lord’s last summer.
“I’ve felt pretty good about my game for the past few weeks, but haven’t had good results in the middle,” explained Vaughan.
“I’ve tried to control the things that I can control and it was nice to get away for a couple of days and work with Duncan.”