Chris Schofield’s call-up to England’s Twenty20 squad should be little surprise, for he has been outstanding in this season’s competition. He took more wickets than anyone else – 17 – in the group stages at an average of 9. But, to those remembering his long-hop infested youth, the most impressive thing was an economy rate of just 6. He has bowled with guile, accuracy, nerve and variation, with his quicker ball proving particularly effective.
While it is unlikely he will make the cut, Schofield deserves to be selected in the final squad, along with Jeremy Snape, ahead of Monty Panesar. Panesar appears too predictable in this form of the game, as his economy rate from seven games – 8.39 – reflects. Moreover, Snape and Schofield are both very useful batsmen, who could bat at eight for England. If Schofield were to play and do well then, bearing in mind his 13 Friends Provident Trophy wickets at 19, he would then have an excellent chance of ODI honours.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether the inclusion of specialists like the two spinners, Darren Maddy, Mal Loye, Luke Wright and Mark Pettini proves deceptive; many still fear that players like Ian Bell and Alistair Cook, with no credentials in this form of the game, will still win selection ahead of them. It is excellent news, though, that Marcus Trescothick is in the 30-man squad (although it is unclear whether he can yet play); along with Flintoff and Pietersen, he could give England three proven hitters as good as any around.
The selectors do deserve credit for ignoring the claims of James Benning. He is continually trumpeted in the media, but his lack of foot movement would be found out by international bowlers, even in this form of the game. However, to omit many of the veterans who have proved so successful in this form of the game, particularly Mark Ramprakash, Mark Ealham and even Darren Gough, is frankly self-defeating.
The simple truth is the Twenty20 World Cup is there to be won – it is surely of at least equal prestige to the Champions Trophy – and England must pick many of the specialists they have named in this squad. They have played more domestic Twenty20 cricket than any other nation and there is no excuse for, at the very least, reaching the semi-finals. A XI picked from the players in this squad could be:
Trescothick, Loye, Pietersen, Shah, Collingwood, Flintoff, Nixon, Bopara, Schofield, Broad, Sidebottom with Maddy, Snape, Mascarenhas and Anderson in reserve
Who would you pick for the Twenty20 World Cup? Leave your views below.