Untried trio get England call-up
England have pleaded for patience from the general public after selecting an adventurous squad including three newcomers for the Test against New Zealand at The Oval.
Disappointing displays in successive Tests at Lord's and Old Trafford prompted new captain Nasser Hussain to promise that this weekend's selection meeting would begin with "a blank piece of paper" and look very much to the future.
It has resulted in call-ups for untried trio Darren Maddy, Graeme Swann and Ed Giddins, while Essex all-rounder Ronnie Irani has been recalled in a 13-man party showing five changes from the experienced line-up which assembled in Manchester.
Promising Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper Chris Read has paid the price for England's encouraging selections, however, and has been overlooked just three Tests into his senior international career to enable Alec Stewart to resume his duties behind the stumps and give the side a "better balance."
The reluctant decision to drop Read, who has been re-assured about his place in this winter's tour party, indicates that no matter how long-term their policies may be, the importance of winning the series is paramount before they embark for South Africa.
Alarm bells may also ring among the three newcomers as they seek to also earn a position in the 17-man winter squad, which is due to be announced on October 25, and underlines England's recent habit of promoting young talent before quickly reverting to experience when results disappoint.
Both Andrew Flintoff and Ben Hollioake have been tried during the last two years, only to be overlooked after just two Tests while injured fast bowler Alex Tudor was dropped for last winter's Test in Adelaide after making a stunning debut in Perth.
With that in mind, chairman of selectors David Graveney has urged The Oval crowd to be patient should 25-year-old Maddy, Swann, 20, and 28-year-old newcomer Giddins make the starting line-up next Thursday.
"The previous group of selectors blooded four 20 or 21-year-olds so we have attempted to identify young players in the past," stressed Graveney. That same patience finally ended for Mark Butcher, who stood in as captain in the absence of Hussain at Old Trafford but has been overlooked this time having failed to reach 50 in the 15 innings since scoring the second of his two Test centuries at Brisbane in November.
Leicestershire batsman Maddy is his replacement and will be hopeful of making a bigger impression this time than he did during his two one-day internationals against South Africa last summer when he earned his place as a quick-scoring opener only to bat at number five for England.
Maddy fought off the challenge of Yorkshire's Michael Vaughan. Graeme Hick has also lost out again after being recalled for the eighth time at Old Trafford as cover for the injured Hussain while off-spinner Peter Such was nudged out by Phil Tufnell for the second spin role alongside Swann. Dean Headley sustained a shoulder injury in Manchester and was declared unfit, which should earn Yorkshire's Chris Silverwood his first home Test appearance providing his wife Emma recovers from car crash injuries sustained on Friday evening.
Giddins and Irani are possibly the most controversial selections, however, as both players are colourful characters. Their inclusion follows Hussain's pledge when he was appointed captain that he would not shirk from adventurous selections.