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Youngsters hold key for England

The inclusion of a few new faces in the England sqad seems a step in the right direction, writes Geoff Boycott.

india Updated: Aug 21, 2007 00:17 IST

From England's point of view, it's time for a change when it comes to the one-day game, because we haven't been very good at it over the past year. Thus the inclusion of a few new faces seems a step in the right direction, but the problem is that there's too much uncertainty regarding the batting line-up and the overpowering impression is one of a team feeling its way around. One would expect the focus to be on Andrew Flintoff, because England's game has revolved around him in the past, but he's back after such a long lay-off that it would be unwise to expect too much from him.

I would be far more interested in the performances of Stuart Broad - son of former England opener Chris Broad - who I believe holds immense promise as an all-rounder. With Liam Plunkett and Steve Harmison effectively sidelined, Chris Tremlett and Jimmy Anderson will also have to take a fair share of the bowling load. As for the batting, Luke Wright should have been there, but that would only have added to the confusion, probably.

As it is, it makes no sense to me to have Kevin Pietersen coming in at number four and Paul Collingwood at five or even six. Why would you not have your three best players in early? A good example is Australia, unarguably the world's best ODI team, which had Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting coming in early. That's the basic rule of one-day cricket - you have only 300 balls (give or take 10) to play with, so your best batsmen should face them.

Instead of which England are choosing to open with Matt Prior, already under pressure because as a batsman-keeper, he is not doing enough to justify his inclusion. He's lucky Peter Moores is from the same county, but the coach cannot protect him forever. He has replaced Geraint Jones, yet another batsman who could keep wicket, who had to bow out of the team because neither his batting nor his keeping was good enough. So if Prior can't restore his credibility (talking less and playing more would be a good way to begin), he might not get picked for the winter tours.

(Gameplan)

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