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England retains squad

Ted Corbett

LONDON: England is unchanged for the second Test against Bangladesh, which begins at the Riverside, Chester-le-Street, the world's northernmost cricket ground — and a notoriously cold place for all cricketers but especially for eleven from Bangladesh — on Friday.

This announcement is hardly a shock after England's win by an innings and 261 runs in only a little more than two days at Lord's but it means that the concerns about the hip injury by Ashley Giles, its slow left arm spinner, must be serious and that the selectors have forgiven Graham Thorpe for keeping them in the dark about his intention to sign for New South Wales next winter. It will be his 100th Test. Giles may need an operation but that is likely to be delayed until just before the trip to India next year.

For a day or two coach Duncan Fletcher and the rest of the selectors contemplated leaving Thorpe out and going for the youth of either Rob Key or Kevin Pietersen but sense returned and they decided that they could not buy Thorpe's experience anywhere else. So, while he retains what Michael Vaughan called his "hunger and fitness" Thorpe stays, with Pietersen down in the blocks ready to sprint to the middle should Thorpe show signs of decline.

Waiting in the wings

They made their faith in Thorpe clear at the week-end in various statements about his ability to pull England out of trouble and now they have named their pecking order by including Pietersen in the squad for the NatWest one-day international matches, which separate the two Test series.

After his three centuries in seven games in South Africa and his one-day average of nearly 140 they could hardly do anything else. Coming so soon after the storm over Thorpe's clear indication that he will retire at the end of the summer, it is a pointer to the future.

Of course, Pietersen and Thorpe both have to perform but it is difficult to see Thorpe failing at Chester-le-Street against the club level bowling on offer from Bangladesh and Pietersen is behaving like a caged tiger as he tries to substitute playing for Hampshire for an England place. He started slowly with his new club — he moved when his contract with Nottinghamshire ran out last summer — but now there is plenty of evidence that the power, the eyesight and the ferocity he showed in South Africa are still there.

Good strike rate

He has also had the opportunity to look at Shane Warne in the nets and out in the middle; and Warne will not have wasted the chance to see where Pietersen's faults lie. But remember he played in South Africa against shrewd judges who have known him since he was a lad and they never managed to control the shot-making which gives him a strike rate above 100 in one-day internationals.

In alliance with Andrew Flintoff, Pietersen can form the most destructive one-day middle order pairing in the world. Think of the shiver of fear that might run through a bowling squad if one of them appeared at the pavilion door to open the innings; think of a stand between the two of them for the fourth or fifth wicket when the bowling is tired, the ball is old and the fielders are floundering. No doubt John Buchanan, the Australian coach, Ricky Ponting and Warne will have a

clue how to stop these blitzkrieg buys but it could be the most destructive partnership since Viv Richards and Ian Botham used to turn one-day county matches into mass murder in the 1980s.

England will choose from these 12 for the Test: Michael Vaughan (Yorkshire) captain, Marcus Trescothick (Somerset), Andrew Strauss (Middlesex), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Graham Thorpe (Surrey), Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire), Geraint Jones (Kent), Gareth Batty (Worcestershire), Matthew Hoggard (Yorkshire), Steve Harmison (Durham), Simon Jones (Glamorgan) and Jon Lewis (Gloucestershire).

The one-day squad: Michael Vaughan (Yorkshire), captain, Kabir Ali (Worcestershire), Paul Collingwood (Durham), A Flintoff (Lancashire), Ashley Giles (Warwickshire), Darren Gough (Essex), Steve Harmison (Durham), Geraint Jones (Kent), Simon Jones (Glamorgan), Jon Lewis (Gloucestershire), Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire), Vikram Solanki (Worcestershire), Andrew Strauss (Middlesex) and Marcus Trescothick (Somerset).

The first match is the Twenty/20 international against Australia at the Rose Bowl on June 13 and the one-day series begins at the Oval on June 16.

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