Cow Corner

No way, Owais

Cow Corner

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Owais Shah's Test career: March 18, 2006 to March 10, 2009 - RIP.

Shah's six-match foray into the five-day international format came to a terminal end when he was left out of the squad for the first Test against West Indies.

Whilst you get the feeling that we'll be seeing Ian Bell sometime again in the Test arena, Cowers sees nothing but a few one-day and Twenty20 bashes in England colours for Shah.

He can now take his place at the round table of Test cricket's great under achievers accompanied by Mark Ramprakash, Graeme Hick, John Crawley, Vinod Kambli and Michael Bevan.

With over 13,000 first class runs to his name, Shah had a greater volume of runs than anyone else in England colours in the Caribbean this spring, but there's no pressure when you're playing in front of a baker's dozen of octogenarians at Southgate.

Shah made what was without doubt the worst 33 in history in the last Test in Port of Spain - so much so, he would have been better off just missing the first straight one that came his way.

With England needing a victory in that match, he laboured to 33 in 118 balls during which time he nearly ran himself - and his partner - out about four times and retired hurt for the second time in his Test career with an injury usually reserved for teenage boys - wrist cramps.

Just like Ramps before him, on cricket's biggest stage Shah was struck by inertia.

But amidst the Inzamam-like running between the wickets, the exaggerated forward defensives and the excessively tight grip that led to the injury, of course he played a few shots which Mark Nicholas would describe as "dreamy" just to remind us that he has all the talent in the world.

It is no coincidence that Shah's only Test innings of note was his first one in Mumbai when, after being called into the squad after Michael Vaughan's return home due to injury, he was given a debut on the morning of the match with Alastair Cook engaged in the toilet two step.

England batted on the first morning and without time to work himself into a frenzy of anxiety Shah made a fluent 50 before retiring hurt with those cramps.

It was all so reminiscent of Ramprakash, who after failing to get past the twenties in 24 of his first 25 Test innings, was flown out to play in the final Ashes Test of 1995 after an injury to Graeme Hick and scored 72 and 42.

Predictably though, once he booked a place for the following summer and was given time to think and fret, Ramps proceeded to score 22 runs in four innings against the West Indies.

He continued to underachieve for another seven years in Test cricket before finding out that ballroom dancing was so much less stressful.

For Shah - his mentally fragile successor - he can begin practising his foxtrot right now.

- - -

The death knell also looks to have been rung for Steve Harmison's Test career whilst rigamortis had already set in for poor unloved Matthew Hoggard.

But Tim Bresnan was an odd selection for the first Test. Yes, he's a genuine all-rounder but only in as much as he is as wide as he is tall.

His only taste of international cricket saw him take some fearful stick from the Sri Lankan flashing blades and Bresnan is certainly not a front line international bowler.

England don't have a genuine replacement for Andrew Flintoff so why select a quasi one? If he does play he would probably bat at nine behind Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.

In all likelihood, he will miss out on the morning of the match, handing Graeme Onions a Test debut and we all hope that this headline writer's dream cuts the mustard - or gets in a pickle, or has some salad days.

Obviously the England selectors had checked out our county team of the week and even before taking a six-for on the batting friendly Taunton strip, his selection in the absence of the injured Flintoff, Sidebottom and Amjad Khan would have been preferential to taking a step back to the wayward days of Saj Mahmood or Liam Plunkett.

Mahmood and Plunkett were both seemingly the next cabs on the rank after going on the Lions tour of New Zealand this winter where another Durham quick Mark Davies was the star.

In a strange twist of fate, had Davies not suffered an ankle injury that requires surgery next week then Onions may not have even been in the Durham XI at the start of the season.

Cow Corner will blog every Thursday during the season and every day when England play an International match

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