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Logic dictates call-up for Crawley

Christopher Martin-Jenkins.

Monday 19 May 1997


THERE is only one true surprise among the party of 15 named by the England selectors for the Texaco Trophy matches against Australia this week and it is not the inclusion of the 19-year-old Ben Hollioake as one of six all-rounders, welcome though it is. One-day cricket being a specialist art, the most unexpected choice is that of John Crawley, but it is a perfectly logical piece of selection for all that.

Crawley, preferred to Chris Adams or Mark Ramprakash, is one of the four best batsmen in England, close to becoming the best of all, and he deals with wrist spin as skilfully as any. With Mike Atherton, Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe, he is sure to play in the first Test. Nick Knight is more likely to do so than not, but runs in these games will be especially important to him. The other specialist batsman in the party, Graham Lloyd, is the one out-and-out quick-scoring expert.

Lloyd has superceded Alistair Brown, of Surrey, in that role, deservedly so after several dazzling innings for Lancashire this season. Although three Lancastrians - his father, David, Atherton and the England committee chairman, Bob Bennett - were consulted by the three southern-based selectors before decisions were taken on Saturday night, the choice of three Lancashire batsmen despite some collective batting failures this season is the first example of the wisdom of excluding the captain and coach from the actual decision-making.

It makes sense for England's probable Test batsmen to get an early look at the Australian bowlers. Less sensible, perhaps, is the decision to expose Dean Headley, one of only two unknown quantities to the Australians in the likely Test attack. In 50-over matches, he will have much less to gain than the batsmen who will face him.

Phil DeFreitas, only a few months older than the younger Hollioake when he first represented England, and Chris Silverwood, who did well in all respects on his first England tour, are preferred to a number of other aspirants for fast-bowling places. Of these, Peter Martin, of Lancashire, is undoubtedly the most unfortunate: with 25 wickets at 24 he has the best record of all current England bowlers in limited-overs matches.

DeFreitas, still only 31, is a veteran of 101 one-day internationals and made England's top score in the last game he played, the World Cup quarter-final against Sri Lanka. In that one-sided contest, he was used as an off-spinner and disappeared for 38 off his 22 balls. In his medium-fast guise, however, this gifted, flawed but durable cricketer is a shrewd bowler and he will relish the chance to show he is not a spent force.

Ben Hollioake and Ashley Giles, the only members of the 15 who have not yet played for England in a Test or one-day international, were two of the successes of the winter in what one might call the second circle of the new, autonomous UK cricket scene: England at the core, with England A and the under-19s, county cricket, and the youth and recreational game in support.

Giles has postponed minor knee surgery in order not to disturb his rapid development over the last two years. His left-arm slow bowling has plenty of variety and his batting has advanced to the point where he may be considered an all-rounder, at least in the one-day game.

It is the Hollioake brothers, Ben in particular, who will have captured most of this morning's headlines. They have had a rather hybrid upbringing. Adam spent some of his schooldays at St George's, Weybridge; Ben at Millfield, as strong a cricket school as any. Adam said yesterday that his competitiveness comes from his Australian father, an offshore engineer who played for Victoria, and his ``family influence'' rather than from any experience of life in Melbourne, whence the Hollioake parents emigrated to Britain to find work.

Both parents are back in Australia - in Perth - but Adam was only 12 when they first moved to England, his brother six years younger. David Graveney described Ben yesterday as ``a genuine product of our system'', which is more than can be claimed for other cricketers of dual nationality who have represented England in recent years. They have played together in club cricket in Perth, for Send in the Surrey Championship and ``in the garage at home''. Now they may become the first brothers this century, other than Peter and 'Dick' Richardson at Trent Bridge in 1957, to play in the same England team.

It may be some time before it happens in a full Test match and it might never do so but there is plenty of time for them both. Each, indeed, has just a chance of claiming the place at No 7 in the Test team which Dominic Cork is in danger of vacating if he cannot quickly prove his form and fitness for Derbyshire. Ben, however, has yet to establish a place in Surrey's championship team and played against Gloucestershire last week partly because the England selectors requested it, partly because the mercurial Chris Lewis was injured.

Having been chosen, it will now be up to Headley to enhance his case to play in the first Test at Edgbaston on the sort of pitch, perhaps, on which the Australians were undone by the demon David Leatherdale yesterday. In his two previous internationals, against Pakistan at the end of last season, he did not sufficiently impress Lloyd and Atherton to gain a place on the tour to Zimbabwe and New Zealand, but David Graveney and Mike Gatting, respectively manager and coach of the A team in Australia, saw a different bowler.

The three internationals take place at Headingley on Thursday, the Oval on Saturday and Lord's on Sunday. Needless to say, every seat is booked.

THE SQUAD

M A Atherton (Lancs, capt) Age: 29 Caps: 50.

N V Knight (Warwicks) 27\10.

A J Stewart (Surrey, wkt) 34\87.

G P Thorpe (Surrey) 27\36.

J P Crawley (Lancs) 25\9.

G D Lloyd (Lancs) 27\2.

A J Hollioake (Surrey) 25\2.

M A Ealham (Kent) 27\2.

R D B Croft (Glamorgan) 26\11.

P A J DeFreitas (Derbys) 31\101.

D Gough (Yorks) 26\35.

D W Headley (Kent) 27\2.

C E W Silverwood (Yorks) 22\5.

A F Giles (Warwicks) 24\0.

B C Hollioake (Surrey) 19\0.


Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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