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Trescothick, Irani back in squad

London: As expected, the England selectors have named a bigger squad than usual for The Oval Test against India, beginning Thursday. With the series tied 1-1, the match has attained decider-status.

Except allrounder Andrew Flintoff, who has just undergone surgery, the squad, which was around at Headingley has been retained. The ‘new’ faces are one-day specialist Ronnie Irani of Essex — Flintoff’s replacement — and Somerset’s top gun Marcus Trescothick.

That Trescothick stood a good chance of being recalled was reported in Sunday’s edition of The Telegraph.

Trescothick, however, will have to ‘prove’ he has fully recovered from the multiple fracture to his left thumb during a fielding mishap six weeks ago. The star opener did play Saturday’s C&G Trophy final and, while he got 27 in his County’s total of 256 for eight (incidentally, overhauled by Yorkshire), he wasn’t always comfortable.

In fact, Nasser Hussain had this to say in his column in The Sunday Telegraph: “Marcus Trescothick didn’t look out of touch after being away for six weeks. He is someone who can pick up a bat and score, such is his natural talent. But, when it comes to selection for The Oval, it’s not a question of runs, but physical reaction.

“Before the start (of the C&G final), I saw his left thumb was heavily strapped and, when he was batting, I saw him wince a couple of times. He can’t go into a Test match with doubts about his hand and, at the moment, it’s obviously not hundred per cent. He can’t risk doing long-term damage...”

Obviously, David Graveney and Co. thought somewhat differently.

Moreover, there could be that psychological element to Trescothick’s recall. After all, his inclusion is bound to make the Indian thinktank work harder.

Should Trescothick satisfy captain Hussain, in particular, during nets Tuesday and Wednesday, then Robert Key will be omitted and Trescothick will make his first appearance in the series.

As for the other ‘new’ face, Irani, there’s no guarantee he will actually figure in the XI. Should Hussain and coach Duncan Fletcher decide on playing Alex Tudor as a batsman-bowler (at No.7), then Andrew Caddick, Matthew Hoggard, Dominic Cork and Ashley Giles should complete the line-up. There will, therefore, be no place for Irani.

Irani, it appears, will only come in if Cork is again left out (with Stephen Harmison).

Significantly, a second spinner hasn’t been picked. “We don’t expect conditions at The Oval to be especially helpful towards spin. And, so, we didn’t select a second spinner,” explained chief selector Graveney. Yorkshire’s Richard Dawson was expected to keep Giles company.

Going by what Graveney said, it seems The Oval will have some grass.

THE SQUAD

Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick, Robert Key, Mark Butcher, Nasser Hussain (captain), John Crawley, Alec Stewart, Ronnie Irani, Alex Tudor, Ashley Giles, Andrew Caddick, Dominic Cork, Matthew Hoggard and Stephen Harmison.

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