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Despite a near-total media blackout in the dark days since England's humiliation at Headingley, the ECB were left dumbfounded this week when their 14-man squad for Thursday's Ashes decider was revealed in the press, with absolute certainty, a full two days before the official announcement was made at 9.30am on Sunday.
No Ravi Bopara, no Mark Ramprakash, not even a Robert Key. Instead Jonathan Trott was inked in for a Test debut, and Monty Panesar recalled as a potential second spinner. The accuracy with which these details were reported was uncanny, and briefly led the six men involved in the five-hour selection meeting at Trent Bridge to suspect foul play. Had the room been bugged? Had somebody been hiding behind the curtains, or under the table?
Embarrassingly, the truth appears to have been more prosaic. At the end of the deliberations, a piece of paper with the squad jotted down on it was reportedly scrunched into a ball, tossed into a waste-paper bin ... and duly pounced upon by the journalists down the corridor who had gathered to watch Warwickshire's County Championship clash with Nottinghamshire.
Andrew Miller is the former UK editor of ESPNcricinfo and now editor of The Cricketer magazineFeeds: Andrew Miller
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