Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Is the Right Time for Ward

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Is the Right Time for Ward

Article excerpt


NOW Ian Ward can thank his lucky stars he's a late developer.

Although 27 may sound a trifle old to be contemplating a Test debut, the Surrey opener is joining England's senior set at just about the perfect time.

Captain Nasser Hussain and coach Duncan Fletcher have not only turned their team into winners but also created an atmosphere that should encourage rather than intimidate newcomers.

"This is something every little boy dreams about," said Ward, who will take possession of his first Test cap on Thursday provided England decide to play all seven frontline batsmen against Pakistan at Lord's.

Too often in recent years, though, the debut-maker's dream has turned into a nightmare.

Aftab Habib typifies a long list of players in the 1990s who arrived on the scene full of excitement and left it, within a few weeks, looking disillusioned. Habib's chance - if that is what you can call it - came and went during the dismal summer of 1999.

England had already crashed out of the World Cup at the earliest possible opportunity, they were without a coach following David Lloyd's departure and Habib looked like a lost soul during the first half of the Test series against New Zealand.

The Leicestershire batsman failed in each of his three innings and that was that. Goodbye, cheerio, don't call us, we'll call you.

Goodness knows how many potentially successful international players England have dumped before giving them a decent chance.

But, as Ward will soon discover, the present climate is altogether more hospitable and should provide him with every opportunity to grow and develop if he's good enough.

Chris Adams was a debatable choice for the 1999-2000 tour of South Africa, England's first under the joint leadership of Hussain and Fletcher. They believed he was worth a go, however, and awarded him five consecutive Tests to prove them right. …

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