Miller refuses to gamble with selection
Geoff Miller claims the days of England throwing players in at the deep end are long gone as they prepare to face Sri Lanka in the NatWest Twenty20 international and the NatWest Series.
Craig Kieswetter, Samit Patel and Jade Dernbach were the noteworthy inclusions in the limited-overs parties yesterday, although all three players have either played for England or the Lions in the past.
Kieswetter was part of the England team that won the ICC World Twenty20 in the Caribbean last year, Patel has 11 one-day international caps to his name, while Dernbach has been a prominent member of the Lions squad.
There are several others on the fringes of being called into the senior England side but Miller insists they will only be given a chance when he and the other selectors believe they are ready.
He told ecb.co.uk: “There will be other people knocking on the door, which we want. That’s a phrase that you hear many times but we can use the Lions and the Performance Programme to bring them forward, which we will.
“It’s not a temptation. We don’t want to be gambling any more from county cricket up to international cricket. The Lions are there for a reason and we use it properly.
“It gives them the opportunity to find out what an international mental battle it is and it gives us the opportunity to see how they can play one step up. We wouldn't just throw players in.
“We’re consistently monitoring and managing those (on the fringes of the senior side) to make sure that when they do get in the international team they’re ready for it.”
With several players in their early twenties selected, there has been some suggestions that England are gearing up for the next World Cup in 2015.
While Miller acknowledged that the selectors will keep an eye on the major tournaments, he is keen to see England return to winning ways following a disappointing winter in ODIs.
Andrew Strauss’ men slipped to a 6-1 defeat in the Commonwealth Bank Series against Australia and were knocked out of the World Cup at the quarter-final stage following a 10-wicket defeat by Sri Lanka.
"There are youngsters in there but we’ve got to have the seniority for the experience there as well," Miller said.
"We’ll look at T20, we’ll look at 50 overs four years ahead but we’ve also got to be winning matches and series at this moment in time.
“So it’s a matter of just managing it and making sure we continue with momentum after a couple of backward steps with the Australia one-day series and then the World Cup.
"Sri Lanka are a very good one-day side so this is a good measure to know exactly where we are and whether we’re going in the right direction."
England will be led by Alastair Cook in the one-day arena following Strauss' retirement from limited-overs cricket, while Stuart Broad skippers the Twenty20 side.
Miller recognises that England are moving forward as they attempt to be the number one-ranked side in all three formats.
He continued: “It’s a new era because it’s new captaincy, there’s a lot of similar players and the changing room has got the plans to go forward.
“(Team director) Andy Flower knows what is required to take this side forward in all kinds of cricket. Yes, we’ve got two new captains but the method of play will be analysed and worked on and I’m sure we will start to go forward.
“But it’s exciting times. One or two new players, two new captains - we’re going to attempt to be number one in the world one-day wise and don’t forget we’re still World T20 champions.”
There were some eyebrows raised when Cook was appointed captain as the Essex opener, who is in such prolific form in Test cricket, has not played an ODI since March last year.
However, Miller has demanded patience from the critics, adding: “They don’t make the decisions. It’s very easy for them to make statements like that.
"We make the decisions and Alastair is a very strong individual. He had problems with the one-day game; he went away with Essex and worked on his technique.
“I have no doubt that he’ll bring that to the international arena and we’re confident that he can do the job, so my answer to the critics is just wait and see.
“We have every confidence in Alastair and Stuart to do the job that’s required of them.”