The England hierarchy is treating the LV County Championship with contempt. In the first place why have they scheduled a one-day international in Ireland at a time when the Championship is nearing its conclusion? Secondly, if they must send a team for this meaningless match, could they not find a fairer basis on which to plunder the counties?
Durham’s trio of Graham Onions, Ben Stokes and Scott Borthwick have been forced to miss this week’s crucial four-day match at Trent Bridge, while Warwickshire have lost Chris Woakes, Jonathan Trott and Irish duo Will Porterfield and Boyd Rankin for their trip to Headingley.
Yet there are no Lancashire players in England’s squad for Ireland, just as there have been none in the England A squads this summer and what threatened to be a thrilling climax to the title race has suddenly shifted heavily in Lancashire’s favour.
It is a great honour for youngsters like Stokes and Borthwick to be included in a full England squad for the first time, but there is nothing to be gained by adding Onions. The selectors reminded him that he is still very much in their thoughts by inviting him to join the England squad prior to the fourth Test, but there is no likelihood of him playing serious one-day international cricket in the near future.
Onions is the one whose loss will be felt most strongly by Durham at a time when the season has virtually been written off for three other home-bred bowlers, Steve Harmison, Liam Plunkett and Mark Davies.
There can be no argument about the selection of Stokes, who clearly has an international future and might well be involved in the one-day series against India, which starts on September 3 at Chester-le-Street. But Borthwick is being prematurely promoted when the consensus is that leg-spinners need to be carefully nurtured.
For the moment Borthwick is ahead of the hugely talented Adil Rashid in the selectors’ thinking, but their handling of the Yorkshire star has been blamed for his lack of progress. And Lancashire will not have forgotten what happened to Chris Schofield after he was rushed into the England side.