Shah's Time

After what happened in Mumbai yesterday, which is bound to cast a shadow - and very possibly curtail - England's tour, it seems a bit passe to bang on about the inadequacies of English selection, but it's an easy target, so why not? With England posting a decent total but still losing at a canter yesterday, you were left wondering what on earth Alastair Cook was doing there, but, more specifically, what has Owais Shah done to deserve such consistently inconsistent treatment?

Having made 72 at number three in Bangalore (to add to his 58 in Indore earlier in the series), Shah was again shunted down to six, from which position he made a coruscating 66* in support of Pietersen's century. With everyone rightly adamant that England need more ODI centuries, and Collingwood once more in awful form, it seems illogical that Shah hasn't been trusted with a higher position in the order throughout the series.

Shah has been an international since 2001 but his career at the top level has taken a long time to mature. His fielding was initially a real weakness and is often ponderous still, while his right-hand dominated technique is hardly a thing of beauty and can tend to detract from his very real qualities of class, confidence and aggression.

All the evidence was that Duncan Fletcher didn't trust him, but Moores and his selectors have at least seemed happy to give him a run in the side, and Pietersen, as an attacking batsman of genius, recognizes him as a kindred spirit.

With just two Tests behind him (an impressive Mumbai debut in 2006 and a nerve-ridden one-off against the West Indies at Lord's in 2007), now increasingly appears to be the time to look again at Shah's credentials in the longer game, and I fervently hope he gets the opportunity to show what he can do.

Whether that opportunity comes in India before Christmas remains to be seen.

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