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June 21, 2012
Report : Last chance for tourists to impress
News : Bell sympathy for paying fans
News : England rest Broad, Bresnan and Swann
Matches: England v West Indies at Leeds
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of England
If the views on the White Rose Forum are any guide, forgiveness will not come easily at Headingley for England's rotation policy when they face the West Indies in the final one-day international. The debate on Yorkshire's official forum touched well-worn themes. Younger Person: "I'll forgive anything if we're winning". Older person: "We used to win in my day and we kept fit by bowling."
From England's point of view, at least the players who are attracting most of the flak are, by the nature of the debate, the ones who will be absent and so unable to hear the protests. Stuart Broad, in some eyes, has sinned not only by being rested, but also by going onto Twitter and saying that he understood the decision because he wanted a long career. That could be regarded as loyalty, but the most trenchant view being aired in Yorkshire is that Them That Are Resting should keep their mouths shut.
Some people will be grateful just to see a game of any sorts. It hosed down again in Leeds on Thursday. Yorkshire's Australian coach Jason Gillespie has barely seen the sunshine since he arrived. "Got caught in the rain near home! What is with this weather," he tweeted as Headingley's groundstaff prepared for a troubled night.
Yorkshire, who are under financial strain, kept alive because of the largesse of their chairman Colin Graves, will have been relieved that barely 1,000 tickets remained when England opted for experimentation. England are hardly making wholesale changes, but umbrage will have been taken for all that.
Graves, who is not the sort to leave stones unturned, has contacted Geoff Miller, England's chief selector, to discuss the policy. "I can understand their decision from a cricketing point of view," he said. "I am not having a go at them or criticising but from the host county's point of view it's a disappointment."
Resting Tim Bresnan, alongside the Nottinghamshire pair of Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad, could also see England face West Indies without a Yorkshire player in the side; it is hard to see how Jonny Bairstow can break into the XI when Ravi Bopara and Samit Patel seem to be essential picks to share the fifth bowler's duties.
Bresnan has played only twice for Yorkshire at Headingley in each of the last two seasons. More than any other player, he epitomises Yorkshire's pride in their ability to produce decent cricketers, but supporters long resigned to the fact that they cannot see him at county level now find they cannot see him for England either.
England's director of cricket, Andy Flower, has argued that the limited changes do not emphasise that this match is a dead rubber, rather than proactively bring it alive again, not only by resting bowlers faced by a punishing schedule, so ensuring maximum benefit, but by discovering more about those on the fringes of the side, grasping an opportunity to road-test the squad and plan for the future.
Steve Finn was the latest England player to be delivered up to the media to offer support for resting players in the sort of sensitive, understated fashion that will ensure no demonstrations outside the Hutton Gates before the game, apart, that is, from those who cannot get into the car parks.
Ian Bell fulfilled the same role 24 hours earlier. England's new-ball attack when it comes to defending the rotation policy has comprised the two players who can be most relied upon to say nothing controversial at all so draining the debate of interest.
Finn, a regular in the one-day side these days, sought this positive slant, suggesting that he would benefit from having more responsibility thrust upon him. "I've opened the bowling for a little while in the one-day team. I'm enjoying the responsibility. Having those senior players missing gives me an opportunity to be an even more senior player within the group. It's an exciting experience - any experience I get of being a senior player is great.
"It puts that added bit of responsibility upon me. Pressure comes with that but pressure is something I enjoy. I feel like I'm getting better at dealing with that and other pressures on the pitch and as you get more experienced at international cricket and are exposed to more experiences you become better."
There is also the little matter of a five-match one-day series against Australia, a series in which England, who have won their last six ODIs, can test themselves against the side ranked No. 1 in the world in one-day cricket. "That series is going to be a great gauge of where we are moving forward," said Finn, his hurried coda that right now he was only concentrating on the series against West Indies not entirely convincing.
Ottis Gibson, West Indies' coach, was a former England bowling coach and he shares Flower's philosophy. "Not really," he replied when asked if he was insulted.
"The English system has been a well-oiled machine for some time now," he said. "It's the envy of the world, let's be honest. They are the top team in the world and they have the luxury of being able to rest players and it's a credit to them and all the people that work behind the scenes.
"They are the No. 1 team in Test cricket, they have an abundance of talent and good players and they can rest a few players and bring a few in and for them it's all good. For us it's just trying game after game to get the right balance and try and win a game. We lost 2-0 in the Test series and we certainly don't want to lose 3-0 in the one-day series.
"The tour has not gone too well, but we're playing cricket in England against a very good English side. Yes, on paper we've got the makings of a great one-day side but England have just been that little step ahead of us all the time. We've just been a little off the pace."
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Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa