Round in Circles

I always enjoy listening to what Mike Selvey has to say, and I remember him warning on TMS, very soon after Matt Prior's debut century for England against the West Indies at Lord's last May, that it would be a good idea for everyone to wait and see how good his keeping was before deciding that England's wicket-keeping problems - in response to which the selectors have been going round in circles ever since Alec Stewart retired - had been solved.

Wise words, because, less than a year on, the England selectors have decided that, however well he's batted, Prior's keeping simply isn't good enough to keep him in the side and he's been dropped completely from the England side to tour New Zealand.

It's fair enough with me - I dislike Prior's cliched on-field hardman persona - and I suspect that Ryan Sidebottom, who, used to the support of Chris Read's superior keeping, finally blew his top at Prior in Sri Lanka, won't be losing any sleep either.

As to his replacements, well, it's no real surprise, given his Sussex background, to see Tim Ambrose in there, but James Foster has once again been very unlucky, and, with Phil Mustard also in the party it's certain that England will go into their crucial series in New Zealand next month with a Test match greenhorn wearing the keeper's gloves. A big ask for either of them, I reckon.

Elsewhere in the party Andrew Strauss returns, if only in the hope that his proven record of scoring Test centuries and taking slip catches will shore up two of the areas in which England were most vulnerable in Sri Lanka. He's fortunate to be there, though, having played no cricket since his omission from the Sri Lankan squad, and, to me, a probable and unwelcome knock-on effect of Strauss's return will be to ensure that the harshly-treated Owais Shah will still find it very hard to get into the side despite the dropping of Ravi Bopara.

From a parochial viewpoint it was good to see James Hildreth's selection in the 'England Lions' squad to take part in the Duleep Trophy, and it was also good to see Panesar's inclusion, as any bowling in favourable conditions, however different they are from those he'll encounter in New Zealand, will stand him in good stead. But Mike Yardy as captain?

Not sure about that, but then he too, plays for Sussex. Enough said.

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