A new direction

Ignoring the 4th and 5th Test, as I feel it is my duty to do, the time has come to begin to forget the past and start fresh in the New Year.

The humiliation in Australia will rankle for months to come, and will not be properly put to rest until pride has been satisfied and England destroy a Test side in similarly emphatic style.

Unfortunately there will be no chance of this until the summer, and even then a resurgent West Indies cannot be expected to roll over quite as lamely as they did the last time they toured here.

The summer will have a tough finish to it as well, with the Oval in August increasingly resembling Bombay India will be able to give the hosts a good run.

But all this is in the distant future. In between now and then the is the triangular series and the World Cup. Ordinarily I wince at the mere mention of one-day cricket and after our abject humiliation in India, one could be forgiven for taking up rugby for the spring.

Yet I find myself looking forward to it. While there can be little doubt England will get a famous drubbing by Australia and New Zealand (for my money the most exciting ODI side going) and our chances in the world cup rank alongside those of the England rugby team, I find there is much to whistle about.

The team which will turn out in the pyjamas will be a radically different animal to the one currently being put down in Sydney.

For a start, Michael Vaughan will be back in the side. There was initially some talk about him possibly not being captain, but no one can now deny the disaster that has been Flintoff’s appointment. Vaughan is still, on paper, captain and a damn sucessful one at that. Fletcher has run out of credit and cannot create another selection fandango.

The merciless kicking over Christmas has also, finally, forced a clearing of some deadwood. In the first instance Geraint Jones has finally been led away to a quiet corner and shot.

Also gone will be Steve Harmison, once the most feared bowler since Curtly Ambrose but now in desperate need of some County time. He is burnt out and his confidence will never really come back at the highest level. In the next few months his place will be taken by two very exciting young guns in Stuart Broad and Graham Onions.

  

Both of these have terrific pace and, more importantly, the ability to hit line and length. They will both have a point to prove and could make a very entertaining new ball partnership.

The absence of Harmison will also give seniority to Jon Lewis who has been disgracefully treated in the past year. One can only think what his unswerving accuracy would have achieved had it been him and not Harmison sending down that famous first ball of the series.

Add to this the inclusion of Monty in the side and it is beginning to look like sanity is returning to the England camp. I do not predict any miracles in the results, but at least the side look back on track after what was a miserable 2006.

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