WI vs England ODI…Last chance for tourists to impress
Rotation has been on everybody’s mind since England took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match ODI series and rested Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad and the local favourite, Tim Bresnan, for the final tie at Headingley.
Some supporters are complaining that they are being short-changed and former England internationals, Michael Atherton foremost among them, have talked of how resting players devalues the cap, whatever the reason, but England’s director of cricket, Andy Flower, will not be deflected from his task of winning as many important cricket matches as possible. If that means resting leading England players ahead of a five-match series against Australia, so far little discussed but bound to pick up momentum, and a Test series against South Africa then so be it. And better rested, it might be argued, than injured. That is even before you consider the benefits of discovering more about players on the fringe of the side.
England’s policy of maintaining county cricket by the proceeds of a non-stop international summer cannot exist without tensions. The ailing domestic Twenty20 tournament, weakened by dismal weather and the late withdrawals of overseas players whose contracts are now barely worth the paper they are written on and the absence of England players, is suffocated by the very England programme that is meant to support it. What English cricket needs is reliance upon more players, not the same elite squad playing interminably to prop up the first-class structure.
As for West Indies, as their coach Ottis Gibson has remarked, losing sides do not have the luxury of resting players. Darren Bravo has already returned home because of injury and Chris Gayle and Andre Russell are carrying injuries. This is not a dead rubber for West Indies – it is a chance to impress upon their lomng-suffering supporters that they have been better than also-rans.
Players to watch
Getting his chance again as Graeme Swann is rested, Samit Patel has to prove that he is worthy of a place in English conditions. He performed admirably in India and against Pakistan in the UAE but a second spinner in England is regarded as surplus to requirements. This is Patel’s chance to show is he more of an option than backup to Swann, particularly with James Tredwell also in the squad.
Another player with something very much to prove is Lendl Simmons. He had a terrible time at The Oval and his highest score since joining the tour is 23. Johnson Charles was preferred to him for the Australia series and the selectors may be looking back to Charles is Simmons doesn’t produce something of note at Headingley.
Pitch and conditions
At Headingley, you don’t look down, you look up. Looking skywards on match preview day could not have been more displeasing as heavy rain fell throughout the day. Only showers are forecast for Friday, but it could be one of Yorkshire’s more forbidding, stop-start contests with the bowlers in the game throughout and more than a little dissatisfaction in the air.