July 20, 2002

White and Cork extend England's batting options

England have recalled Dominic Cork and Craig White in a 13-man squad for the first npower Test against India at Lord's. John Crawley and Simon Jones, both of whom were in the squad for the last Test against Sri Lanka at Old Trafford, are retained.

As has been their consistent policy this season, the selectors have preferred experience to youth at the end of a week in which they were forced to broaden their search as a result of injuries. Marcus Trescothick (fractured thumb) Andrew Caddick (rib) and Alex Tudor (tendonitis) were all unavailable for selection.

Cork, 30, is again recalled on the ground where he has put on some command performances in the past, and where he played his last Test against Sri Lanka in May. He continues to carry all before him at Derbyshire, and is currently England's leading first-class wicket-taker.

The inclusion of White, 32, who hasn't played Test cricket since England's tour of India last year, is designed to increase England's batting options.

"The injury to Alex Tudor means that we need someone with batting capability in the number eight position," said chairman of selectors David Graveney.

"Depending on the balance of the side and the nature of the wicket, there could be an opportunity for either Dominic Cork or Craig White in this position.

"Craig played well in India in the winter, making his first Test hundred, and although he had a few injuries that affected his bowling, he is now back to fitness and bowling well again.

"We feel his ability to reverse swing the ball could be useful if the Lord's wicket is as flat as it was against Sri Lanka whilst Dominic will give us another option if the wicket is more seamer-friendly."

Given the injury to Trescothick, Crawley's selection comes as no surprise. The 30-year-old remains in good form at number three for Hampshire, and may well bat in the same position given England's plans to open with Mark Butcher.

"John Crawley came into the side for the first npower Test against Sri Lanka and acquitted himself well," Graveney said. "There is no reason why he should be overlooked now as we want to be consistent in our selection policy.

"We have had some injury problems ahead of this match - but we are fully aware of how important it is to start this Test series well as this an area we have sometimes fallen down on previously," Graveney added.

Butcher is currently playing his first Championship match for Surrey since knee surgery last month, while Darren Gough is aiming to prove his fitness in the longer form of the game in his first Championship appearance of the season for Yorkshire. Graham Thorpe is included, although he is not involved in Surrey's current game.

Graveney admitted he was disappointed by the failure of England's younger batsmen to stake their claims for selection.

"I think the wickets have been good to bat on," he told Channel Four. "That doesn't exclude David Fulton and Robert Key from future teams or Ian Bell, but if you look at the averages they are dominated by overseas players.

"It's slightly disappointing that some of our home-grown players haven't been knocking on the door."

Alec Stewart will become England's most-capped Test cricketer on Thursday, overtaking Graham Gooch's record of 118 Tests.

Squad: N Hussain (Essex, capt) Age 34, Tests 72, MA Butcher (Surrey) 29/41, MP Vaughan (Yorkshire) 27/19, GP Thorpe (Surrey) 32/76, JP Crawley (Hampshire) 30/30, AJ Stewart (Surrey, wkt) 39/118, A Flintoff (Lancashire) 24/18, C White (Yorkshire) 32/24, AF Giles (Warwickshire) 29/15, MJ Hoggard (Yorkshire) 25/11, SP Jones (Glamorgan) 23/0, DG Cork (Derbyshire) 30/35, D Gough (Yorkshire) 31/56.