England v West Indies, ODI series June 22, 2007

England seek the shoots of recovery

Paul Collingwood has been unveiled as England's new one-day captain, at the head of a new-look squad that contains two uncapped players in Warwickshire's Jonathan Trott and the Hampshire allrounder, Dmitri Mascarenhas



Paul Collingwood: one of only two men who could guarantee a starting place © Getty Images
For the umpteenth time in as many seasons, England's one-day squad has yet another new look to it. Out go two former captains in Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss. In comes another new wicketkeeper (Matt Prior), another new middle-order batting option (Jonathan Trott), another new allrounder (Dimitri Mascarenhas) and another new-ball bowler (Ryan Sidebottom).

A new captain/coach combination completes a picture of transformation that was much needed after an abysmal World Cup campaign, and the freshness of Paul Collingwood and Peter Moores will at least enable a line to be drawn under the winter. But as ever where England's one-day fortunes are concerned, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. For all that he has made an impressive start in the Test arena, this squad - and the success thereof - is the biggest test to date of Moores' coaching credentials, precisely because of the muddle that he inherited.

Of the 14-man squad that began the World Cup, only six have survived the cull. Some, most notably Andrew Flintoff, were not available through injury, but it is hardly surprising that Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen were the stand-out candidates for the captaincy - they are the only two available players who could have been guaranteed a starting place.

Of the other survivors, Ian Bell advanced his claims in the Caribbean (though not by much), as did Monty Panesar and James Anderson. Liam Plunkett, on the other hand, required a stunning one-man showing for Durham against Essex on Wednesday to earn his late reprieve.

At least, that's how it would appear on the surface at any rate. Perhaps there simply was no viable alternative. Stuart Broad comes into the squad in his own right, after impressing as a World Cup replacement, but the selections of Sidebottom in place of Jon Lewis, Michael Yardy for Jamie Dalrymple, and Jonathan Trott for Ed Joyce hardly come across as groundbreaking. Once again, England's one-day line-up appears to be steady rather than spectacular.

And yet, maybe there are some limited-overs gems waiting to be unearthed. All eyes in that regard will be on Alastair Cook - a batsman so cool and compartmentalised in Test cricket that he has amassed six hundreds in barely a year at the top. None of these, however, have been scored in any hurry whatsoever - his quickest, at Lord's this summer, came from 162 balls, and more normally he takes upwards of 200.

Cook's mentor at Essex, Graham Gooch, was among those who advocated his recall to one-day cricket, telling Cricinfo this week that he would be able to adapt to whatever conditions he came up against. And so far in his brief one-day career, Cook has done just that - opening the innings with Marcus Trescothick in two matches against Sri Lanka last summer, he made 39 from 38 deliveries and 41 from 54, to establish platforms that, ultimately, his team-mates proved too feckless to build upon.

Once again, Trescothick's absence leaves a hole that cannot been adequately filled. He has scored 12 hundreds in 123 one-day matches, more than any other England cricketer, and for all his fine form in county cricket this summer, he was never considered for a recall, according to the chairman of selectors, David Graveney. Flintoff's absence in the middle-order robs the team of momentum at the bottom end of the innings as well, especially if Prior is shoved up the order to renew his pinch-hitting role.

England should still be too strong for a West Indian side that seems to have gone into meltdown since the end of the Test series, although nothing can be taken for granted - not with Chris Gayle inching his way back to form and the likes of Dwayne Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the right form and frame of mind to complete a quick switch of gameplans. Even a patched-up eleven proved too strong for the self-styled "England Lions" on Thursday, a side contained four of the players in the senior squad.

With a proud and upbeat Collingwood installed at the helm, it's time for England to look forward with optimism to a new era. The daft and extended inter-regnum period that undermined the team's preparations last summer is a thing of the past now that Vaughan has relinquished his hold on the side, but given the depths to which England's one-day cricket has sunk in recent years, no-one should expect a quick fix. The merest signs of a recovery would do nicely in the coming weeks.

England one-day squad 1 Paul Collingwood (Durham, capt), 2 James Anderson (Lancashire), 3 Ian Bell (Warwickshire), 4 Stuart Broad (Leicestershire), 5 Alastair Cook (Essex), Dimitri Mascarenhas (Hampshire), 7 Monty Panesar (Northamptonshire), 8 Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire), 9 Liam Plunkett (Durham), 10 Matt Prior (Sussex), 11 Owais Shah (Middlesex), 12 Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire), 13 Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire), 14 Michael Yardy (Sussex)

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

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