Encouraging news today as England announced a 25-man development squad. This is an increase of 13, and, basically, gives Duncan Fletcher the power to reduce the amount of cricket played by any of these 25 if he deems it necessary (and it is, very, necessary). Ironic (and potentially confusing), isn’t it, that the top 25 players in the country are grouped together to play less cricket in order to play for their country. But such is the round-robin, hectic nature of county cricket that these measures have to be taken.
Since central contracts came in a few years ago, injuries have decreased and performance has improved – England have had (and now have 13 more) centrally contracted players, all of whom have had been very carefully managed. Increasing this pool to 25 is an excellent and encouraging move, and also shows how respect Duncan Fletcher has become. It is he, along with David Graveney, who pushed for central contracts in the first place.
Here are the players:
England development squad: Michael Vaughan, Kabir Ali, James Anderson, Gareth Batty, Ian Bell, Mark Butcher, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles, Darren Gough, Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Geraint Jones, Simon Jones, Robert Key, Jon Lewis, Kevin Pietersen, Chris Read, Vikram Solanki, Andrew Strauss, Graeme Swann, Chris Tremlett, Graham Thorpe, Marcus Trescothick, Alex Wharf.
I was pleased to see Chris Tremlett included, along with Pietersen, Bell and Key who all three are fighting for just 2 places. Tremlett looks useful, but I do have concerns about his pace or lack thereof…