Notes from the pavilion

All change?

Earlier today, England named their 30-man provisional squad for the ICC World Twenty20. For once, it seems, the selectors have paid some attention to the nature of the format.

There are several interesting inclusions. The sight of Trescothick’s name, for one, will bring some relief to many, although there must be huge doubts over his progression to the final 15. Similarly, there are finally places for those players who have played the most Twenty20 domestically, and have proven themselves capable. After the series of washouts this year, it would have been hard to pick those necessarily most in form, but David Graveney et al seem to have elected for those players that have deployed themselves well over the past couple of seasons. Sir Viv Richard’s call for Darren Maddy, now captain of Warwickshire, has been answered, although there is no place for Nayan Doshi or Samit Patel. Among other ‘specialists’ included are new Essex captain, Mark Pettini, Surrey’s one-year contracted Chris Schofield and the man of the moon ball, Jeremy Snape.

Is it all for show? There are significant figures gone from the World Cup squad: Strauss, Vaughan, Joyce, Mahmood and Dalrymple all miss out. However, there is no real sign that England intend to keep these welcome additions in their final 15. The entire one-day squad that faced the West Indies have been included, although it must be admitted that one incumbant, Stuart Broad, was the most economical seamer in last year’s domestic competition. It can only be hoped that in slimming down the squad in August, the selectors do not show this initial attempt to be a pointless exercise in media quelling.

Banger’s back (albeit against Devon)

In spite of Nasser Hussain’s bold insistence that Australia were “under the cosh for a lot of” today’s match against England, the end result was rather predictable. England did apply themselves well for portions of the match – specifically the partnership between Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen – but that one highlight alone is not enough to beat Australia, to win the World Cup or to prove England’s one-day ethic is nothing more than hit-and-hope. In fact, poke-and-pray might be more accurate.

All is not lost. You’ve no doubt heard by now that Marcus Trescothick made his return to cricket – albeit against a Devon attack more used to serving scones than yorkers – with a brutal 256 from 117 balls. This is a good thing.

The mystery surrounding his stress-related illness is still very much just that. No one knows for sure exactly what constitutes stress, nor why it happened, nor why he was apparently unfit to attend England’s Champions Trophy yet was fit to tour Australia a few weeks later. He lasted just two weeks which, given the horror show that eventuated, was probably just as well.

I desperately hope he returns, fighting fit, scoring banger tons again. Who knows? This lay-off he has had could relaunch his career, turning him from a good England player into a great.

South Australia v England, Adelaide

It’s the final warm-up match to Brisbane. England are Trescothickless and could do with a good run-out here to stretch their legs for next week. They ought to get it with Darren Lehmann, Shaun Tait, Dan Cullen and Mark Cosgrove among them. Their resolve will be seriously tested.

Chat away.

Marcus Trescothick leaves Australia

One, twice, three times a…no that’s unfair. So Marcus Trescothick has gone – but is it really that much of a surprise? Sky Sports were almost grinning from ear to ear at breaking the news, before calling on the usual suspects – Willis, Botham, Hussain, Lloyd and each of their dogs – for expert opinion.

When he left India in February, there was a hushed silence. No one knew what to think (there were plenty of rumours) and little was said. I didn’t care what the reason was, and felt the silence was a mark of respect. But the way the ECB have handled today’s news, my patience has run out. It’s a sad situation for Marcus but we now need to know exactly what the deal is; will he return or won’t he? Will he play for Somerset again? Will he ever make a hundred against Australia? Unlikely. What is the problem, and why the hell was he allowed on the plane to Australia in the first place? This is less about Trescothick and more about England’s reliance on the tried and tested – the rusty, as Tim de Lisle said yesterday – however frail they might be.

That’s it for Banger, though, I fear. But England have got to move on, as they did with partial success in India, and draw a line under this until the end of the tour.

Trescothick’s dedication

Patrick, he of Times fame, has a really interesting interview with Howard Clayton, the “official” England Under-19 scorer who has seen the likes of Darren Gough, Michael Vaughan, Alastair Cook and Marcus Trescothick early in their cricketing careers. This struck out, though:

Who knows which members of the present team will become Test stars? Sometimes it is not always the cockiest who succeed. Clayton was struck by the attitude of a teenaged Trescothick, who in 1994 was teased by his team-mates for wearing his England cap and blazer after matches had finished. “He told them: ‘It might be the closest I get to playing for England,’ ” Clayton said. If only other players showed such pride and dedication.

Trescothick has always intrigued me. He arrived to Test cricket clearly mentally suited to the demands, if not technically astute; his near-total lack of feet movement early on looked awkward and horrible. He’s made a fine career in spite of these failings, and from very early on was part of Nasser Hussain and Duncan Fletcher’s team meetings, suggesting a wise head on then-young shoulders. But it was when he spoke of his hatred of bullying in the dressing room – and a need, he felt, of equality – which made me sit up and notice. He’s a quiet bloke, undemonstrative and doesn’t enjoy the spotlight; happier in Taunton than Trinidad.

Let’s not forget (not that we are) what a fine record he has: 5825 runs at 43.79, 14 hundreds and 29 fifties. That’s decent, for an opening bat.

It had to happen some day

This game was hardly a thriller, but it was a win. England can take positives from this match on to Edgbaston, as well as a much-needed dose of confidence.

It seems fair to say that the game was won in the field. In fact, if it were not for the 47 runs scored in Pakistan’s last twelve balls, courtesy of some fantastic play from Abdul Razzaq, England would have wrapped up the game around about the 40th over of their reply. Pakistan’s bowling performance showed signs of the problems that have been hounding the hosts all summer – tiredness and inaccuracy. Whilst England batted well, Ian Bell in particular, only Asif and Hafeez really troubled in what was a comfortable run chase.

England bowled well for the majority of their 50 overs. Whilst I’m happy to give credit, especially to debutant Michael Yardy, I do hope Strauss starts to think his bowling changes at the death through a little more for Edgbaston. There seemed little sense in cutting Dalrymple off after 9 overs, or in taking off Broad after his over took a wicket for only a single. Nevertheless, for the moment, I’m going to celebrate a one-day game mostly memorable in its result – England’s first win in a series that wasn’t already dead since last year – and in the fact Trescothick was dropped for the first time in his England career.

Live discussion: England v Pakistan, 4th ODI, Trent Bridge

In an unsettling development, England nearly competed on an even keel in the third ODI against Pakistan at The Rose Bowl. They nearly took them to the wire, too. Today is the fourth of the five-match series and yet again England are faced with a selection headache. Marcus Trescothick’s withdrawal from the Champions Trophy means he could miss today’s match, too, as Andrew Strauss alluded to. And surely one of Sajid Mahmood or Rikki Clarke will be dropped in place of Graham Onions; at least, we hope so.

Weather is set fine, so we should have a full day’s play – although, inevitably, the dew and moisture of Britain’s late summer will affect conditions under the lights. I’ll be on ball-by-ball, so keep an eye on Cricinfo and leave your comments below of the day’s events.

Cricinfo live scorecard and ball-by-ball details.

And coming out to open?

So who exactly will be opening the batting tomorrow? It seems as if Trescothick is not expected to, though I have not seen any mention of his being removed from the squad. There are also murmurs that Pietersen might be promoted to open. David Lloyd has been consistent in his belief that England don’t, and should, make more of the early powerplays. Could Pietersen do the trick? I’m not convinced. But I think Ian Bell should open, so what do I know.

Thoughts, anyone?

What’s really wrong with Trescothick?

Update November 14 2006
He’s left the Ashes

Yesterday, England were granted a three-day extension to name their final squad of 14 for the Champions Trophy. And today’s news is that Marcus Trescothick has opted out.

He left England’s tour of India earlier this year due to a virus, although speculation was rife. But the medical reasons behind his latest omission are ambiguous at best:


A spokesman from Performance Healthcare, the specialists treating Trescothick, said: “After his return from the tour of India in March, Marcus sought specialist help for his ongoing symptoms. In addition to the deleterious effects of the acquired gastrointestinal infection on his health, it later became evident that he was also suffering from an underlying stress-related illness.

“He has been receiving specialist treatment, which has allowed him to resume his position in the England team. However, we believe that it would be premature for him to tour India in October. Rest is an important part of his treatment and he will need recovery time before the Ashes tour of Australia which begins in November.”

I hope he’s left alone and the media don’t hound him, although if he pulls out of the Ashes – please God no! – there’ll be no stopping them. All very confusing, and a huge blow to England’s fledgling one-day team.