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In a remarkable broadside aimed at the England side in Australia, The Observer’s Vic Marks has made it quite clear where he stands. In a column which says it would be better for England to fail to qualify for the best-of-three finals in the CB Series, he writes:
It comes to something when, before the solitary one-day competition that really matters, we can seriously advocate the benefits of avoiding further fixtures to spare the England players further mental disintegration. Currently, so many of the team are shot to pieces. Their minds are dead. It is most evident among the batsmen. Bowlers can just about function mechanically, batsmen need a spark of life to react to the ball and the situation. No spark is visible.
And Marks goes on to slam the selection policies which have left Duncan Fletcher unsure of his side weeks ahead of the World Cup:
The desperate selections, the old men of county cricket, Paul Nixon and Mal Loye, are reminding us why they hadn't been chosen before. The call-up of Nixon, in particular, still grates. Choosing players primarily because they have a combative tongue, reflects the disarray in the camp.
Who knows who will keep wicket for England in the World Cup? Probably not David Graveney or Duncan Fletcher. Who knows who will bat or bowl? Who knows who will lead the side? Almost a year ago, Fletcher said that he had a good idea who 10 of his World Cup XI would be. He might be able to name four or five now.