Caddick unlikely to play for England again

Andrew Caddick is a difficult man. Don't ask me why.


JUNE 30: You'll remember my diary item about the England numbers, sent out on ties recently. Well, I bump into Michael Slater, once Australia's attacking opening batsman, now a commentator with Channel 4 who is No. 356 on their list. That's the number he believes he must be when he makes his Test debut on the same day as Brendon Julian because, as it is explained to him at the time, the first available number goes to the first player to take part in the game. That is to say that an opening batsman gets a number ahead of a middle-order all-rounder; then he finds that he is given No. 357. Now that is hardly significant to many cricketers but by that time Slater receives a car number plate MS356 from his wife as a birthday gift and has the number tattooed on his ankle. He shows me the number and explains that he is still angry about the incident. "When I get annoyed — and at the time there are various things going wrong in my life and I am very unhappy about this bad piece of advice I am given — they try to make out that it is my fault. They suggest that it is always done alphabetically and why don't I know that? They treat me as if I am some sort of dill," says Slater. A dill is a misled fool in Oztalk and Slater is naturally not amused to be branded in this way. Anyway, after a little while they renumber him and now he will be No. 356 forever.

"Andrew Caddick is a difficult man. As a cricketer he is just as difficult. I remember him bowling magnificently just before lunch one day in the 1999-2000 tour of West Indies and then throwing it all away with an atrocious over just afterwards," says the author. — Pic. HAMISH BLAIR/GETTY IMAGES-

July 1: Andrew Caddick is a difficult man. Don't ask me why. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder when he leaves New Zealand and comes to play for Somerset, when he is chosen for the tour team to West Indies back in 1993-94 and again when he is laid low by shin splints and has to spend time in a wheelchair. Another man will accept that all selectors are fools, that injuries are part of the game and that brushes with sports writers — like the Trinidadian B. C. Pires who makes all sorts of cracks about Caddick's big ears — are a consequence of fame. Sadly Andrew Caddick never gets the hang of the public side of his game. If you simply look at him as a cricketer he is just as difficult. I remember him bowling magnificently just before lunch one day in the 1999-2000 tour of West Indies and then throwing it all away with an atrocious over just afterwards. Still it is sad to hear that he is so badly injured that, while he may recover enough to play for Somerset again, he will not play in any of this summer's five Tests against South Africa and he is unlikely to play for England again. He says that if Darren Gough can make a comeback so can Andrew Caddick. His figures tell their own story of his difficulties. In 62 Tests he finishes with 234 wickets, which leaves him seventh in the England list, but 131 in the first innings at 37 runs apiece and 103 in the second at 20 runs each. Able to finish the job — as he did so convincingly against West Indies at Lord's and Headingley the last time they played in this country — but unable to set the agenda. His work for Somerset has been described as distinguished but that led to the suggestion that he ought to be a more destructive Test bowler. Sad, really.

July 2: While we sit in the rain at Headingley, Channel 4's bright boys hold a quiz. You know the sort of thing. Production v camera crew; commentary box v graphics; bean counters v scorers. A wide-ranging list of 72 questions and production — like the director and his men in the truck — win after a tie-breaker. They name the world's largest railway system (America), the first British newspaper to sell one million copies (The Daily Mail) and the favourite indoor game of Mary Queen of Scots. Tut, sir, shame on you. The Queen is a fervent and skilful player of the French version of billiards. When she is executed, on the orders of her cousin Queen Elizabeth I, her head is wrapped in the cloth from her billiards table. The quiz is so enthralling that Sky TV ask if they can take part next time and there's an open invitation to the Press Box, although why they think that we will cheat by using our lap tops to log on to the Internet to find the answers I cannot imagine.

July 3: A long time ago, when Surrey climb into bed with the Australian brewers Fosters and announce that in future their ground will be known as Foster's Oval, I make a decision that I will always refer to it as the Oval because it is perfectly obvious that the name will change when either the sponsors no longer wish to afford Surrey or Surrey tire of the sponsors. A couple of years ago Fosters drop out and along come AMP and Surrey claim that their ground — the first to stage a Test in England and far more than 100 years old — is to be known as AMP Oval. Not by me. Now the club says that they have a new parting of the way and that they will be sponsored by RAC in future. I am about to renew my vows; the Oval will always be the Oval and I hope it remains so.

July 4: After Jacques Kallis makes another 82 runs, and aggregates 314 for once out, we retire to the bar of our hotel and do what writers and television commentators and the like do best: quarrel. Who is a great England batsman and captain? David Gower or Mike Atherton; Tony Greig or Mike Brearley? Is it right to inflict one's problems on those at home? Can we define greatness in Brian Lara, in Steve Waugh, in Shane Warne, or Ian Healy? Is it proper that a batsman who hits a four off the last ball of the match can be deprived of three of his runs because he and his partner cross in mid-pitch as the ball hits the boundary? A large amount of fire is engendered and nothing is solved by these wondrous arguments but two hours after midnight Simon Hughes, fast bowler and TV analyst brings the turmoil to an end by playing The House of the Rising Sun as loudly as he can on the piano. A fitting end to a night that is being repeated all over England as we try to discover why Michael Vaughan is short of runs, whether England are right to push all their tried and tested players into the outer darkness and how long it may be before they find a team to beat Australia.

July 5: Way back in the 1970s, when Tony Greig hires his services to Kerry Packer, one writer finds a reason for what he sees as treachery in Greig's background: he is "not English through and through". Later, when Phil Edmonds, Allan Lamb, Chris and Robin Smith and Neal Radford are part of the England team it seems there is a take-over bid by the men from south of the Equator. Later still Phil DeFreitas, Gladstone Small and Chris Lewis add a Caribbean flavour. Now it looks as if we may yet have an England side that is full of men from the sub-continent. The success of Vikram Solanki prompts the thought that Bilal Shafayat with parents born in Pakistan, Kabir Ali and his cousin Kadeer Ali born in Birmingham and playing for Worcestershire, all have their origins in India and Pakistan. Kevin Pietersen, another tip for the Tests, is born in South Africa and the wicket-keeper Geraint Jones in Papua New Guinea are all on the selectors' short list. So too is Ravinder Singh Bopara, an Under-19 team candidate as a batsman and bowler whose rich talent, it is said, makes Graham Gooch smile. And, I promise you, that does not happen very often. All these players are England-qualified and, as they are superior players to anyone else, they have every right to represent their country.

July 6: The Sunday papers are full of talk that Graham Thorpe convinces the selectors he is available for at least the next 18 months and that he will appear in the Test side against South Africa. But we knew that weeks ago, didn't we?