Travelling back from London on the train late yesterday afternoon, with the sky darkening and the wind getting up after a truly sublime weekend's weather, it was hard to avoid the feeling that autumn was setting in. Of course, another sign that time's moving on is the fact that the English first-class season's over (and congratulations to Durham, by the way) and tour parties are being announced.
There were few surprises in the England squads; I was pleased to see Shah selected ahead of Bopara (and Swann of Rashid), and it had already been leaked to the media that Vaughan, despite his renewed central contract, was set to be 'rested'. James Foster was, of course, completely ignored. This was predictable, but still hugely disappointing. While, on balance, it looks fair enough to give Matt Prior (much the best batsman of the available keepers) another chance, should we not be looking beyond Ambrose for an alternative?
A few years ago Chris Read was in a similar position, but he at least got another chance (even if it was against the coach's better judgement) before being jettisoned for good. It seems very much as though Foster, not seen in England colours since 2002 and an immeasurably better keeper than he was then, isn't even going to get that. Foster's made the standard noises about going back to his county and working hard, and I'm sure he will, but the signs are that none of it will ever do any good.
By contrast, the news that Vaughan isn't going looks like a brief triumph for common sense, although it still seems as though the likes of Geoff Miller (whose opinion matters) and Darren Gough (whose doesn't, frankly) feel that it's only a matter of time before normal service is resumed.
But why? Might there not at least be a chance - which nobody seems prepared to admit - that Vaughan, rising 34 and with a chronic injury history, is past it as a batsman and isn't coming back?
Third Man at the Madras Book Club
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