Notes from the pavilion for October 19th

Links of note from the past 24 hours:

Thanks, Fred, and goodnight

So that’s probably it for Freddie, then. Whatever drivel the ECB can try and spin about his ankle needing time “to settle and recover before the process of further strengthening and assessment is intensified” – medico-speak for “he’s done it in again” – it’s probably safe to assume that a man on the wrong side of 30 who has played just one of his team’s last four Test series isn’t really one for the future. It’s time to look beyond.

Flintoff

Probably most likely to step into the breach in the short-term is Ravi Bopara. But he’s untried at Test level and despite knocking Mike Hussey over on his ODI debut, it’s hard to imagine him knocking over Test sides with his gentle trundlers off a short run. Similarly Paul Collingwood, who encouragingly hasn’t let snaffling Sourav Ganguly on a lucky LBW shout go to his head.

So let’s look to the current crop of youngsters. There’s Adil Rashid, who scored his first Championship century this season, and team-mate Tim Bresnan, who has fought back well from being Jayasuriya’s bitch last summer. Younger still, there’s Alex Wakely at Northants and James Harris at Glamorgan. For some of these it looks like the next Ashes in 2009 will come a bit soon (Harris was born in 1990, for heaven’s sake), while none of them really looks like a potential Test number six. But then again, nor does Freddie at the moment.

Who does everyone think will end up filling Fred’s specially-modified boots? A batsman? A bowler? Or is it time David Graveney got Mark Ealham back on the phone?

Understudy tourists

England will soon have to pick its squad for the winter tours and the three understudy roles up for grabs are those of top-three batsman, wicketkeeper and spinner. My calls for Bob Key were largely dismissed, so I’ll move on to the ‘keeper, who will start as Matt Prior’s back-up, but may get a crack if the Sussex man drops Sangakkara on 0 and becomes Murali’s latest bunny.

It seems England now have an embarrassment of riches at keeper with several stumpers scoring regular runs this season. Foster, Ambrose, Mustard, Read, Jones, Batty have all scored well. Read and Jones have likely had their turn, but Foster may be due another one? Ambrose has been excellent too. Tricky. Mustard must be in line for ODIs, because he’s brilliant at the top of the order for Durham. It’s a shame for Steven Davies that Worcestershire have hardly played this season.

Spinners are more of a quandary. I don’t agree that Pietersen and Vaughan can fill in the gaps. We need a genuine spinner to support Monty, especially in Sri Lanka. The problem is that, as ever, there are no English spinners topping the charts, although I can’t see what Graeme Swann has done to upset the selectors. He would do alright. Adil Rashid has great potential and can bat too. As can Alex Loudon. But would any of them bowl out Sri Lanka? I’m at a loss.

Bring back Shaggy?!

England unearth their Murali

One of English cricket’s many failures in the 1990s was to find an English Shane Warne. It was understandable, given Warne’s total domination throughout two thirds of the decade – but that English cricket, then nearing crisis, could drum up a legspinner was shortsighted and completely ignorant. Worse still, our Warne-less attack simply provided the authorities (and captains?) an excuse for the run of defeats. We haven’t got a Warne, we haven’t got a hope. Luckily, Duncan Fletcher arrived to shake things up a bit and we gradually grew less sycophantic and needy.

As recently as this summer, Mike Atherton – himself a former legspinner – wrote of England’s blasé attitude to spin bowling, in particular legspin. Only when he first toured Australia did he realise how seriously it was considered, and how utterly ignorant English schools cricket was towards the art. Even I experienced this at school. This is changing, albeit slowly, and England now have their very own spin coach – David Parsons. The emergence of people like Adil Rashid from Yorkshire is only the start, but it’s a start the 1990s administrators could only have dreamed of.

Hot on the footsteps of Rashid comes England’s answer to Rubber Man himself, Muttiah Muralitharan. Come on down Sachin Vaja, a mystically named offspinner with an equally deceptive doosra. Matthew Pryor, son (or grandson?) of the spin machine Merlyn’s inventor, has the full story at tomorrow’s Times.

Adil Rashid: a Fletcher baby

Hello faithful. I’m back.

I hope Duncan Fletcher was sitting down today when he read of Adil Rashid’s exploits with bat and ball, in the second Test between England and India Under-19s.

Rashid smashed 114 yesterday and followed this with 8 for 157 today. All this after his 6 for 67 on debut for Yorkshire demolished Warwickshire a mere ten days ago.

Albeit fresh-faced, he epitomises what Fletcher seeks in his players. He is close to Fletcher’s summit of expectation, that most mouth-watering of prospects: a legspinning allrounder. Clearly it’s far, far too early to be talking of his future England prospects, but at the very least he is someone to keep an eye on.