What exactly is our plan for the upcoming T20 tournament in the Windies? I could phone up Geoff Miller and ask him, but I doubt even the chairman of selectors knows. The rumour is that James Whitaker has a one-armed bandit in his living room. When he gets together with his fellow selectors, they allegedly replace the symbols with the names of county cricketers, pull the handle fifteen times and hey presto, they’ve got a squad. Ok, that’s a little cynical, but how else can we explain the massive changes that have afflicted our team since the inaugural event in 2007. After all, this current squad shows a massive six changes from the list of players that represented England in last years’ event. That’s over half a team.
From the 2009 squad, Robert Key, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Graham Napier, Owais Shah, and Adil Rashid have all been dropped. That’s quite an achievement considering that most of them have hardly played a game. Meanwhile, England’s opening partnership from the recent matches against Pakistan, Joe Denly and Jonathan Trott, have also been dispensed with; as has Matt Prior (at least the cunning plan of playing two wicketkeepers has finally been abandoned). However, perhaps more amazing is the decision to retain Ryan Sidebottom. Perhaps they want to keep a spot open in case they change strategy again – after all, Sidebottom will inevitably need an injury replacement at some point.
So who are the beneficiaries of the selection merry-go-round this time? Fortunately, the one-armed bandit has actually come up with a couple of decent names this time. Perhaps inexorably, Craig Kieswetter has been promoted. So too has Michael Lumb, the exciting and somewhat stylish top order batsman from Hampshire. England fans might be interested to know that Lumb was born in South Africa; now there’s a surprise. The other selection which might raise a few eyebrows is the recall of Michael Yardy, whose left arm darts and general lack of athleticism in the field are now apparently ideally suited to the cut and thrust of international T20 cricket. This might come as something as a surprise, as Yardy was dropped in 2007 because neither his batting nor bowling came up to scratch. When questioned on the subject, an England insider was quoted as saying ‘the one-armed bandit system will inevitably throw up players whose surnames start with letters near the end of the alphabet’. Luke Wright was unavailable for comment.
England Squad: Collingwood (capt), Anderson, Bopara, Bresnan, Broad, Kieswetter, Lumb, Morgan, Pietersen, Shahzad, Sidebottom, Swann, Tredwell, Wright, Yardy.