New Boys

With Flintoff re-installed as captain (wrongly, according to Richard Hobson in The Times), we can now look forward (if that's the right phrase) to another ODI. The only problem is that it's against Australia, which makes the likelihood of England being able to build on the win over New Zealand slim, to put it mildly.

Whether they make the side or not (and at least one probably will), England will have two new players to choose from - Malachy Loye, the hard-hitting 34 year-old Lancashire opener, and Ravi Bopara, a useful young batting all-rounder from Essex who's obviously done okay with the academy in Perth.

I've seen a fair bit of Loye on TV over the years - he's been knocking around the county circuit since the early nineties, after all - and he's a more than handy operator, the sort of player (and there were many) who could well have had a Test career if he'd shown a bit more consistency at the right times, not played for Northants (never a great career move) and lost his way in the appalling mess that was late twentieth century English cricket.

Bopara I've hardly seen, but he gave a bullish interview on the radio this morning and seems to be relishing the prospect of mixing it with the Aussies.

His awakening may be rude, but at least being around the likes of Loye and Nixon will, as someone who's yet to see 22, never mind 30, keep him feeling young.

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