May 29, 2003

Gough recalled to new-look one-day squad

A new era: Jim Troughton celebrates his call to colours

England's selectors ushered in a new era of one-day cricket today, with one notable exception, as a new-look 15-man squad was announced for the NatWest Challenge against Pakistan, and the NatWest Series involving Zimbabwe and South Africa.

With the 2007 World Cup firmly in mind, six new names have been included in the squad. Some of them are not entirely unfamiliar - Anthony McGrath and Robert Key played against Zimbabwe in last week's Lord's Test, while Richard Johnson might have made his England debut as long ago as 1995, had injury not intervened. The others are Kabir Ali and Rikki Clarke, who were fringe members of the squad during the winter, and Jim Troughton, the highly rated Warwickshire batsman, whose inclusion was almost as inevitable as James Anderson's recent Test debut.

Anderson is there as well, of course. But with a new captain in Michael Vaughan, and the wise old heads of Nasser Hussain, Alec Stewart, Nick Knight and Andy Caddick all in retirement, the selectors have returned to the man who can never say die, Darren Gough. His return to form and fitness after a chronic knee injury is a triumph of will, and he will be able to impart all his know-how to Anderson, but Gough will be 36 by the next World Cup. One imagines he is strictly short-term cover, but then, with Gough, you never can tell.

"The bulk of this squad is under thirty years of age and has been chosen with the next World Cup firmly in mind," said David Graveney, England's chairman of selectors. "Darren Gough's inclusion is clearly an exception to this rule. But he is a proven match-winner who was badly missed during the World Cup and his inclusion will add experience to our bowling attack. As well as providing a strike bowling capacity, we also believe Darren can play an important role in passing on advice to the younger bowlers within the squad."

Craig White and Paul Collingwood have been ruled out through injury, but even a broken thumb couldn't prevent Chris Read earning his recall at the expense of Stewart and ahead of James Foster. Andrew Flintoff is also included despite his shoulder problems, while Solanki's return will give Ian Botham plenty to wax about during his commentary stints. Solanki was tried and discarded in 2000, but confirmed his recall with a coruscating innings for Worcestershire in the C&G Trophy yesterday.

Graham Thorpe was another man who declared that he is ready and willing to return to England colours, but even a timely hundred at Taunton yesterday couldn't sway the selectors. With Thorpe, there is too much emotional baggage attached, and Gough's selection was the final nail in his coffin. For now, at least.

Adam Hollioake's international career can also be assumed to be over, after a semi-return to the fold over the winter, but his Surrey team-mate and last season's Young Cricketer of the Year, Clarke, is just setting out. One man who has missed out this time is Will Jefferson, Essex's lofty opening batsman, but his fielding is not yet considered up to scratch at international level.

England ODI squad Michael Vaughan (capt), Marcus Trescothick, Robert Key, Jim Troughton, Andrew Flintoff, Vikram Solanki, Anthony McGrath, Rikki Clarke, Chris Read (wk), Richard Johnson, Ashley Giles, Kabir Ali, Darren Gough, James Anderson, Steve Harmison.