Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Facing Cup Headache

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Facing Cup Headache

Article excerpt


ENGLAND are no nearer to finalising their one-day squad than they were when Nasser Hussain and Duncan Fletcher first began planning for the World Cup two years ago.

At best, six players - Hussain, Marcus Trescothick, Nick Knight, Graham Thorpe, Andrew Flintoff and Darren Gough can be relied upon to appear in South Africa 12 months from now.

As for the identity of the other nine members of a party that ought to be picking itself by this stage, your guess is at least as good as the selectors'.

Forget the humiliating 155-run defeat by New Zealand in Wellington.

Saturday's display was so abject and so lacking in both spirit and skill it can be discounted from England's calculations.

They are better than that although, to be fair, they could not be any worse. Indeed, the banner held aloft by Kiwi supporters which asked the question "Are you Bangladesh in disguise?" was grossly unfair to international cricket's newest outfit.

But England's passionate performances in India just a couple of weeks ago may turn out to be equally misleading.

There, against a side containing a couple of superstars but any number of fragile personalities, Hussain's men scrapped hard to force a 3-3 draw after being 3-1 down.

New Zealand are an altogether different proposition, however.

Packed with steely characters and players who know the oneday game inside out, they look capable of whitewashing England in this five-match series.

Even that sort of scoreline will not matter too much provided captain Hussain and coach Fletcher can ink a few more names on to their World Cup masterplan come tomorrow week.

If not then they and the other selectors may have no option but to forget about looking forward and start glancing backwards.

Test cricket is a rolling process and fresh young faces are vital from time to time.

When it comes to the World Cup, however, it doesn't matter if the average age of the squad is 40 and every member retires immediately the tournament ends. …

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