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Sensible Selection

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The decision to leave out Michael Vaughan, Steve Harmison and Ian Bell for the upcoming series against the West Indies could finally be the sign that the selectors are seeing sense, and that new coach Andy Flower is making his mark.

Too often in recent years have under-performing test players been dropped, only to be recalled a few matches later.

I realise that sometimes a few games out of the firing line is just what a player needs. It allows them to work on their technique, re-build their confidence and generally refresh themselves before another assault on the ruthless world of Test cricket.

But what has been happening with England is that too many players have returned to the England side without proving themselves at County level. For example, Steve Harmison. The Durham paceman has struggled ever since that disastrous tour of Australia three years ago. Yet he has been dropped and recalled several times, without ever returning to the same destructive form that once saw him become the number one bowler in the world.

The number three position is another spot which has been rotated between the same group of players, and has proved a constant headache for Geoff Miller and co. Ian Bell’s talent is without question, but his mental ability to cope with test cricket is the main issue - he has been given more than enough chances. Michael Vaughan, who has openly expressed his desire to play for England again, has the ability but perhaps not the form, while Owais Shah has failed to grasp his chance and never looked comfortable at number three.

Therefore you have to give credit to the selectors for looking to the future and putting faith in Ravi Bopara. It is a gamble - 24 year-old Bopara has yet to really establish himself at international level - despite an impressive century in Barbados, but he deserves his chance.

Call-ups for Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan also proved to be a refreshing surprise as it was thoroughly expected that the likes of Mahmood or Hoggard will get the nod. Both players are bang in form and it's a safe cricket bet that they will want to make the most of their opportunity, which can only be good for England.

It also now sends out a message to County players across the country that the door is open, and the chance to play for England is no longer for an exclusive pool of players.

It is yet to be seen whether the selection pays off but something needed to be done after the disastrous winter. If it results in a series win, then the selectors need to be applauded for their bold and decisive decision making.

(Tom Mallows is a born and bred Lancastrian who now lives across the pennines in Yorkshire. A cricket fan since 1994 his earliest memories of the game are Devon Malcolm's destruction of South Africa in 1994 and Dominic Cork's hat-trick against the West Indies in 1995. He is eagerly, yet nervously, awaiting this summer's Ashes series.)
 



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