Butcher passed fit to play in opening Test
England today named their squad for the first Test against West Indies at Lord's next week. Simon Jones returned after a foot injury, while Matthew Hoggard and Mark Butcher both kept their places despite being injury worries. Robert Key, whose last Test was against Zimbabwe last year, was also included as cover for Butcher.
Jones's foot injury forced him to miss the second and third Tests against New Zealand earlier this summer, but he, along with Matthew Hoggard, warmed up well in the recent MCC match against the West Indians at Arundel.
Butcher was the only injury concern in the batting department after aggravating a thigh injury while playing for Surrey in the Twenty20 Cup. However, he has until Thursday to prove his fitness, with Key waiting in the wings if Butcher is forced to pull out.
However, David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, was almost certain that Butcher would be fit to play: "We are confident he will be fit and available for selection, and the decision not to play him in Surrey's Totesport League match is purely precautionary," he said. "Key was included as cover only."
But one issue Graveney was not quite so sure on was whether Andrew Flintoff would be able to bowl. Flintoff was originally due to miss the recent NatWest Series due to a foot problem, but played in England's last two matches as a batsman only - and scored two hundreds. "We will be closely monitoring Flintoff's fitness in the run-up to Thursday," Graveney said. "We feel that the more time he has to recover and receive treatment, the greater his chances of taking part in the game as an allrounder."
Meanwhile, Butcher said that with England on a winning streak, with six victories in their last seven matches, the side is a settled one. "The Test team virtually picks itself," he said. "If you hit upon the right sort of formula, people's roles become a lot more defined and you know what you are required to do. That all comes from developing a winning mentality, once you start winning, people trust in others to fulfil their jobs."
He also said that he expected to be fit in time to play in the first of the four-Test series: "I think the captain and coach would want me to be 100% by Tuesday night - but I am pretty confident I will be okay."
Meanwhile, Michael Vaughan, the captain, admitted his poor run of scores is something he needs to sort out. "You always have little peaks in your career where it goes well and troughs where it doesn't go quite so well," he told BBC Five Live. "I only average 33 as captain and that is a fact, but there is a time around the corner where these peaks will return again. It is not a major concern but it would be nice to get back to the fluency I know I can produce."
Michael Vaughan (capt), Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Strauss, Mark Butcher, Graham Thorpe, Andrew Flintoff, Geraint Jones (wk), Robert Key, Ashley Giles, Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Simon Jones, James Anderson.