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England Cricket Team In Barbados

by Tony Cozier

March 26 1998


ENGLAND'S reconstituted team assembled in Barbados last night for the forthcoming series of One-Day Internationals under the bizarre arrangement of a new captain whose appointed predecessor has remained in the ranks.

Following Mike Atherton's resignation after England's 3-1 defeat in the Test series on Tuesday, Adam Hollioake was elevated to the captaincy for the five matches, starting at Kensington Oval on Sunday, that offer England the chance of immediate consolation.

But Atherton, whose lack of form prompted his decision, has kept his place in the squad of 13.

There are six new players - Dougie Brown, Mark Ealham, Matthew Fleming, Graeme Hick, Ben Hollioake and Nick Knight - all rated limited-overs specialists and part of the team under Adam Hollioake that played unbeaten against India, Pakistan and the West Indies in winning the Champions' Trophy tournament in Sharjah in December.

Policy

England's selectors have set out a deliberate policy in preparing a team, specifically to meet the different demands of the limited-overs game, for the World Cup in Britain next year.

Sharjah put the experiment to the test and it is being continued here and, presumably, through to the World Cup proper.

Along with the new captain and Robert Croft, released from the original tour party since they were not required for the final Test in Antigua, they have been in Barbados since Friday practising and preparing for the series.

With chairman of selectors David Graveney, a former Gloucestershire and Durham player, boosting their numbers, they convincingly beat invitation club teams in two 50-overs-an-innings matches at Wanderers on Monday and Tuesday.

They were joined last night by Atherton, Alec Stewart, Graham Thorpe, Dean Headley, Angus Fraser and Jack Russell from the Test team.

They get more serious pre-series opposition from the UWI Vice-Chancellor's XI, including former West Indies greats Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and Jeff Dujon, and present stars Brian Lara, Franklyn Rose and Mervyn Dillon, at Kensington tomorrow.

Post-mortems of the Test series and conjecture over Atherton's successor for the summer's home series against South Africa have proved temporary distractions to the build-up for the forthcoming series.

The names of Nasser Hussain, vice-captain for the preceding part of the tour but not required for the abbreviated form of the game, Alec Stewart, after Atherton England's most capped Test player, and Mark Ramprakash, the Middlesex captain who was one of the few successes of the Test series, figured most prominently in British media speculation yesterday.

The bookmakers, William Hill, installed Hussain as immediate favourite. But his lack of experience in the position, like Ramprakash's, swayed most knowledgeable observers towards Stewart, the 34-year-old veteran of 75 Tests and 94 One-Day Internationals who was Atherton's main rival for the post when Graham Gooch quit in 1993.

``At 34, Stewart is four years older (than Atherton) but, unburdened by the demand of leading a team who struggle more often than not against the major Test opponents, he would make an ideal stopgap, at least,'' Christopher Martin-Jenkins wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

Most positive

Alan Lee, of the Times, was most positive.

``Charge of the Test team is sure to pass to Alec Stewart,'' he asserted.

Atherton joins a long list of captains who have fallen from grace, either by their own or the selectors' choice, in the wake of defeat by the West Indies.

The most public case was the tearful resignation of Australia's Kim Hughes after the second Test of the 1984-85 series at Brisbane after five consecutive losses three in the Caribbean to Clive Lloyd's team. He was succeeded by Alan Border whose 93 Tests in the position are more than any other captain.

India's Kapil Dev, New Zealand's Geoff Howarth and England's David Gower were all replaced either immediately or very soon after.


Source: The Barbados Nation
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Date-stamped : 27 Mar1998 - 11:24