England Cricket: Farcical Selections Stink of "Jobs for the Boys"

Mark TrippContributor ISeptember 9, 2008

Recently, England named three controversial squads: the squad of players rewarded an ECB central contract, the squad of players selected for the Stamford Super Series, and a squad for the India ODI series.

Of the players awarded with a central contract, Michael Vaughan was a surprising inclusion. Let me make it clear that had Vaughan been on sparkling form this season, I would have no hesitation in praising the ECB's rewarding of him.

However, Vaughan has been in woeful form this year, averaging single figures versus South Africa. Considering that Vaughan has averaged only 37 in the past five years since taking the test captaincy, it has been widely assumed that without the captaincy he would have been dropped a long time before this summer.

Despite resigning as the captain, Michael Vaughan has somehow regained a central contract. Speculation surrounding the news is that Kevin Pietersen was keen to have Vaughan as part of the side for his experience and knowledge of test cricket.

Vaughan, like any other batsman, should only be selected if his past form and ability warrants it. Kevin Pietersen, however, does not see it this way.

What sort of message is this sending to fringe players such as Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara? Vaughan has been in appalling form this season, yet still gets rewarded vast sums of money!

This farcical decision is the sort of "jobs for the boys" selection that will do England no favours. In light of England continuing to select batsman for reasons other than their batting, it is no surprise that they have begun to lose test series worryingly frequently.

Another questionable selection by Geoff Miller and his fellow selectors is the choice to pick Alistair Cook as a member of the Stamford Super Series squad. Alistair Cook has only ever played five Twenty20 games in his career, averaging only 10 at a strike rate of under 90. 

It is understandable that the ECB want to reward their players, but surely this is not a suitable explanation for the inclusion of Cook. If this was the case, why wasn't Monty Panesar or Michael Vaughan included?

If ability is not taken into account when selecting a squad, how on earth are players such as Joe Denly or Graham Napier going to break into the side?

This is a sad day for English cricket. It is clear to see that selection is no longer based on ability alone. It seems you have to be part of the exclusive ECB clan to get near selection.

This needs to be addressed immediately by the ECB, and it is no wonder England have failed to progress since the 2005 Ashes Victory.