Cricket: England Forgive and Forget as Croft Is Recalled ; Welsh Off-Spinner Included in Sri Lanka Party despite Public Criticism of Graveney and Co as Brown Receives Call-Up
Pringle, Derek, The Independent (London, England)
Robert Croft, who has been recalled to the England squad, shows his intensity on the pitch Mirror
JUDGING BY the new faces in England's 15-man squad for Sri Lanka, as well as one or two of the old, the winning habit appears to have put the selectors in a forgiving mood. But if there was no reprieve for the hapless Ian Salisbury, the return of Robert Croft, following the Glamorgan player's public criticism of David Graveney and co last August at least shows a willingness to put cricket ahead of petty feuds. Croft is joined in the party by another off-spinner, the 26-year old Jason Brown.
Croft's beef, at a time when England were on the cusp of beating the West Indies for the first time in 31 years, did not go down well. Angry at what he saw as regional bias from the selectors, he vented his spleen over what he saw as their lack of communication when he was left out of the tour to Pakistan. "One way or another," he was quoted as saying at the time, "whether it is my choice or the selectors, I don't think I'll play for England again."
A passionate Welshman of strong words - he nearly always refers to his international matches as British rather than English - Croft last played Test cricket at Edgbaston six months ago against West Indies, a match England lost. This chance, which comes after Salisbury's failure, is backed by an overseas record some way better than his offerings at home, a pattern of wicket-taking that is the complete opposite to that of Phil Tufnell.
The presence of Brown, who took 57 wickets in nine matches for Northamptonshire last season, is there to fulfil what Graveney feels is the necessary presence of off-spinners to exploit the rough created by Sri Lanka's left-arm seamers Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa - an area Muttiah Muralitharan thrives on.
A steady operator, rather than a big spinner like his county colleague Graeme Swann, Brown will start with England A in the Caribbean before going to Sri Lanka at the end of January. According to his county coach, Bob Carter, he has a sound temperament and a steady nerve, a combination that could come in handy when Sanath Jayasuriya starts wielding the long handle. …