Lutters’ Ashes Lines part 11 (the England World Cup squad announcement)

THE England Cricket World Cup squad has been announced and, as usual, there are one or two surprises and a few disappointed players.

The selectors have clearly taken into consideration the conditions that the team are going to face and left out Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn and Chris Woakes.

Finn should have no real complaints as he was expensive in the Test series Down Under (and can’t bat), but the other two players could consider themselves a little unfortunate, as both have performed admirably recently.

The problem for them is the nature of the unresponsive pitches in the sub-continent for seam bowlers. That will explain the selection of Ajmal Shahzad, who is a skiddy bowler and has a reputation for usage of reverse swing, a trait that comes in handy in the conditions.

Some may ask why Alastair Cook hasn’t been selected, and the reason is fairly simple. He has certainly improved his game as far as limited overs cricket is concerned, but not quite enough to be given the nod.

All the other batsmen have pretty much been guaranteed a place for the past six months, which in Paul Collingwood’s case could come back to bite the selectors on the rear end. His form has been terrible all winter, but “he’s a resilient bloke” according to Andrew Strauss, although I’m not 100 per cent sure what relevance that is.

One person who may be a little surprised by his selection is Sussex’s Matt Prior. Seemingly discarded from the limited overs teams behind Surrey’s Steven Davies and Somerset’s Craig Kieswetter, a good Ashes tour with both gloves and willow has seen him back in favour, but he is the most consistent batter out of the three and definitely deserves his chance.

One very lucky player to be included (other than Collingwood) would be another Sussex player, Luke Wright. His average with the bat is low at 21, and his bowling is under used, although understandably with an average of more than 50. He has not covered himself in glory in Australia either with relative failures with the bat and no bowling, but also omitted from the first ODI. I imagine that he will not play a huge part, but when your squad is only 15 strong, it’s a big gamble to pick a player out of form.

Can England win the competition? The answer is yes, but they certainly don’t justify their odds of 9/4, despite what the team management have to say.

They will make it through the group phase, as all the Test nations do, but after that they will find the going quite tough.

The favourites have got to be India, but Sri Lanka could be dangerous and never rule out Pakistan in their own back yard, despite three of their best players currently banned. They are performing well in New Zealand and, although they can blow hot and cold, could be a good outside bet.

Whatever the weather you won’t be able to watch it unless you have a lot of annual leave available, work from home, or are out of work entirely, as the competition lasts for about two months.

It could well take up most of your Sky-plus memory if you are planning to record every game.

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