Wednesday, 11 July 2007

In it to win it

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.


Richard Lake said...

I don't think the selectors have decided which way to go with this yet, so the squad has a slightly odd look about it. I also seem to remember that when the enlarged WC squad was picked, it came with the proviso that the selectors could look outside that squad of players.

I'd agree with your assessment of Benning. Like Rashid, he's become a name that people want involved, most of whom havn't seen him play.

I hope that the selectors do go with a specialist team. If nothing else, it will give the test players a rest before another busy winter, and while it is a World Cup, the test matches must surely take priority.

My team
Maddy (c)


Tim said...

Yes, it's odd how there are times when the whole media is trumpeting a particular name (it also happened to the more worthy Shah earlier in the season) and doesn't really reflect well on their part. Having seen Benning a fair bit he looks to be a poor man's Ali Brown - very effective (though hit-and-miss) in one-day cricket, but, unlike Brown, unable to impress in first-class cricket.

Mark said...

Just a thought - they've picked 30 names. This will be reduced to a final squad of 15 on August 11th.

Based on what? it can't be 20/20 performance between now and then.

Or have they simply picked 30 names to give themselves some breathing space.