June 6, 2008

English cricket

Are England selectors ducking the issue?

Brydon Coverdale

A pair of ducks for Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood on the first day at Trent Bridge was the worst possible result for England’s two out-of-form batsmen. In the Independent, Jon Culley looks at whether they should keep their spots.

Naming an unchanged side for the fifth time in a row for the first time in 124 years has been tripped out as something worthy of pride. Yet the statistic that should be on the minds of the England hierarchy is that this is likely to be the 12th Test to go by since the team posted a first-innings total of more than 400, which tends to suggest that change, rather than continuity, is required.

It would suggest also that, instead of receiving comforting assurances, Collingwood and Bell should be told bluntly what is expected of them, although neither player is daft enough to think that loyalty can perpetuate. Miller and company have already displayed a ruthless side by dropping Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard simultaneously during the winter.

In the Independent on Sunday, Stephen Brinkley says the Natwest Series will be crucial for Collingwood and Ian Bell to save their Test spots.

The break between Tests may give the selectors breathing space which, in turn, should clear their heads. This has not been an especially competent series for either side – ignoring the contributions of Collingwood and Bell. New Zealand have not been as innocuous as West Indies were at the start of last summer, but so far the contest has been a poor advertisement for Test cricket as the acme of the game.

In the Daily Telegraph, Simon Hughes considers Collingwood’s predicament.

While Ian Bell, who also failed to score, has time on his side, Collingwood knows if he loses his place, it will be mighty hard to regain. You feel for him because he works his butt off. But does he stick or twist? Surely better to gamble and enjoy than stick and stagnate.

Also read Lawrence Booth’s thoughts on the matter in the Guardian.

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Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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