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Audible sounds of unpleasant truths

Ted Corbett

— Photo: PTI

LOOKING AHEAD:James Anderson may, in all probability, lead England in the next World Cup.

London: Most of the England players knew, long before their World Cup match against West Indies began on Thursday, that this year's tournament would be their last chance.

More's the pity; great cricketers probably believed they were playing their last World Cup game.

For instance it will require a lot for that magnificent all-rounder Paul Collingwood to make the England team in three years' time.

He is already 35 and sometimes he bats as if the years have begun to take their toll. He still bowls a mean off-cutter, still varies his flight and pace and line as only an experienced bowler can.

What England cannot replace from the Collingwood armoury is his superb fielding.

He has taken half a dozen catches in his international career that would have brought a glow of pride to any of their best fielders down all the years — David Gower and Derek Randall for instance — and his ground fielding has been an example that the young ones have eagerly accepted.

But, aged 38? I think not.

Kevin Pietersen, who specialises in confused messages whether he is batting or giving interviews or fielding, appeared to suggest just before the World Cup, that it would be his last big one-day event.

Then he appeared to withdraw the suggestion. We have to bear in mind that big KP is also beyond 30 now and perhaps it would be as well if he concentrated on Tests.

Don't take my word for it. Ask Kevin and don't be surprised at the answer. Whatever it is.

There was a surprising development last weekend when a sober and respected English newspaper said Andrew Strauss the captain was playing in his last few One-Day Internationals.

There were loud denials from the England and Wales Cricket Board but, well, they would, wouldn't they? It is probably a reasonable educated guess that Strauss, already a middle-aged cricketer, is thinking about his future.England will miss him too. When he took charge of the team he seemed to have little notion of captaincy but in India he has grown taller, made the difficult calls and promised to be an altogether more intuitive leader one day.

James Anderson is the one who may surprise us all by — don't laugh — leading out the side the next time the World Cup comes around. He is already head of the fast bowling gang, the natural vice-captain Collingwood may be on his way out and why shouldn't a fast bowler be a leader too?

Bob Willis was, after several tours as second in command, and showed it was possible for a paceman to lead.

There are other guilty men off the field. Little has been heard of Geoff Miller, the main selector and Andy Flower has been allowed to rest on the Ashes glory.

We have been promised a ‘robust debate' by the top men at Lord's after the winter tours are done but I suspect the only outcome will be shouts of “We won the Ashes, didn't we?” and the shuffling noise that is common following England disasters.

It is the sound of unpleasant truths being swept under the carpet, of bad selections being hidden and weaknesses ignored.

Those who say that the more life changes it stays the same have plenty of evidence at Lord's and the only people who don't recognise that are those in cricket's high places. They think that is the way life should be.

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