In last week's article I stated that Irish cricket would have to increase greatly the numbers playing the game if we were to keep up our push for improved status in world cricket. How to do this? The Northern Ireland Cricket Association and the Leinster Cricket Union have taken the lead by appointing cricket development officers Brian Walsh (left) and Brean O'Rourke, who are trying to promote the game at grass roots level. These efforts will have to be augmented by greater efforts at club level.
Some clubs are already making progress. For example, Cliftonville use Gerard Brophy and Gerald Dros (left) to go out to all the schools in the area to coach and recruit members for their club. Woodvale, for two years, used their captain Steven Donnelly in the same role, while Bangor currently do a similar exercise with Mark Hutchinson and Alec Taylor. All clubs should look at this initiative and the Irish Cricket Union should devote any increased revenue earned by the senior side qualifying (hopefully!) for the next World Cup to this end, and not only will the clubs help themselves, but will increase the numbers playing the game in this island.
After being destroyed in the 1st Test by the West Indies, England have bowled them out for 54 in the 2nd. Despite squeaking through, at least they now have something to build on. In Caddick, Gough and Cork, at last, we have arrived at the best fast bowling combination, by accident rather than design. With these three in harness, plus two fast bowling all-rounders in White and Flintoff, there is no need for a fourth, so the likes of Hoggard or Harmison should not be picked at the moment. Nor should a spinner. There is not a finger spinner in the country good enough to get wickets for England. There are in fact very few in the world. Only freaks like Multich Muralithfran and Saqlain Mushtaq, who turn the ball both ways and wrist spinners like Shane Warne take wickets at test level. Hopefully for England, Chris Schofield will be the answer, but not just yet. The team for the Third Test (not for another month) should be:- Atherton, Vaughan, Hussain, Thorpe, Stewart, Hick, Flintoff, White, Cork, Caddick and Gough. Ramprakash has had enough chances and has just not got it mentally, and Knight has not got what is required at Test level.