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April 9, 2009
England's national selector Geoff Miller has called for a quick resolution to the England coaching search to allow him to commence planning for the hectic season ahead.
Miller will name his first Test squad of the season, to face West Indies at Lord's, on April 18. It will be a larger assembly of players than usual, resembling more of a touring squad, partly because a number of key members of the England team are involved in the Indian Premier League.
Andy Flower, the interim coach, will advise on the squad selection even though he has not been confirmed as England's full-time director of cricket. Following a winter of distractions, Miller implored the ECB to make a swift coaching appointment to restore a degree of stability to the national squad.
"I would very much like it to be as soon as possible, personally, because it makes my job far easier," Miller told reporters at Lord's. "I can get on making decisions with him about what we're going to do this summer."
Miller was at Lord's with Flower - who is the frontrunner to become the director of cricket - partly so the pair could debrief about the recently completed West Indies tour, and also to watch fringe players in the MCC side hoping to push their claims for national selection. With Durham batting throughout the shortened first day, both men left St John's Wood none the wiser as to which of the MCC's senior batsmen could best contend for the No. 3 spot.
Michael Vaughan, Ian Bell and Robert Key can each make a case to replace Owais Shah, one of England's IPL-bound players, in the Test side if the selectors feel change is required. Though the England squad will be named next week, the identity of precisely who will hold down the No. 3 slot will remain unresolved. As many as three candidates could be named in the expanded squad.
Those players will have a maximum of two more rounds of Championship games (or a possible England Lions match against West Indies) to make a final push before the Test squad meet up on May 4.
"There might be one or two that need to get some runs but they know the situation," Miller said. "There are lots of permutations. The reason these players are playing here - it's not a trial as such - is for us to see where they are with their specific games at this moment in time because early decisions have to be made in the selection."
Bell, one of those hoping for a recall, knows there is only one way back into the team. "I've got to go to Warwickshire score as many runs as I can," he told Cricinfo earlier this week. "If I can give the selectors no alternative but to pick me because I've scored so many runs that's the way I'd like to go."
It is a busy time for the England selectors, who have announced the preliminary 30-man ICC World Twenty20 squad and the performance squad in the last week. The final 15-man party for the World Twenty20, which will also need a captain, will be named before May 1.
Two bowlers in the Twenty20 squad, Tim Bresnan and 20-year-old Chris Woakes, impressed on the opening day at Lord's. Bresnan, a late selection for the match, claimed two wickets and Woakes removed Gordon Muchall during a testing spell of swing.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?