Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England in Need of More Pace Up Front

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England in Need of More Pace Up Front

Article excerpt


ENGLAND head for the north-east tonight knowing they cannot afford to scale down their search for fast bowling talent.

Jimmy Anderson's spectacular five-wicket Test debut against Zimbabwe at Lord's and Darren Gough's return to the one-day international squad might suggest the pace department is full to overflowing.

But the knee injury suffered by Matthew Hoggard on top of Andrew Flintoff 's continued absence because of a shoulder problem has balanced the books.

In any event, England cannot remember when they last had an embarrassment of fast bowling riches and the selectors are not about to go rummaging for the 'No Vacancies' sign just yet.

Either James Kirtley or, more likely, Richard Johnson will win a first Test cap at Chester-le-Street on Thursday as England attempt to polish off Zimbabwe. Then, come the one-day fixtures, Rikki Clarke and Kabir Ali can expect to be handed their chances.

But, given the alarming regularity with which this country's pace bowlers and all-rounders break down - and taking into account the ever increasing amount of international cricket played - the selectors cannot have too many candidates.

Rod Marsh, England's newest talent spotter, is not alone in believing a squad rotation policy will be essential to prevent bowlers such as 20-year-old Anderson from being a star one season and burned out the next.

"James is a young man just starting in Test cricket," Marsh said. "But he faces six more Tests and possibly 10 one-day internationals this summer, followed by a Test and one-day series in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.

"I'm not a medical person but I would hate to think that, as a 20-year-old, James has got to play in all those matches because, if he does, he might only have one season in him.

"We have got to be able to rotate players within a series, especially young bowlers, or face the consequences."

Barring injury or loss of form, Australia tend to go for the ' settled team' approach in Test cricket. But they shuffle their pack during the relentless rounds of one-dayers so that Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee remain as sharp as possible. …

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