England To Unveil Twenty20 Squad
England's selectors prepare to name their final squad for the ICC World Twenty20 today with some of the leading county captains urging them to consider Mal Loye for one of the 15 places.
The hard-hitting Lancashire opener has long been considered one of the most innovative one-day players in county cricket and narrowly missed out on last winter's World Cup squad having played in seven one-day internationals in Australia.
He was deprived the chance to give the selectors a reminder of his talent during Twenty20 finals day when a back strain forced him to miss Lancashire's semi-final defeat to Gloucestershire.
But as England prepare to reveal their squad for the NatWest Series against India, in addition to their final Twenty20 squad, there is plenty of clamour for 35-year-old Loye to be included.
"You need guys who can change games quickly, but you also need guys who can execute their skills at the right time and know their role in the team," stressed Gloucestershire captain Jon Lewis, who is harbouring his own hopes of being included in the squad.
"Twenty20 is about taking advantage of those first six overs and Mal Loye does that well, and whoever does that the best, they should pick.
"It's a really big part of the game with the fielding restrictions and the same with the first 15 overs in the 50-over game.
"I think they missed a trick not taking him (Loye) to the World Cup because I thought he did well in Australia.
"I would certainly look at Mal because he offers something different. Mal has a record of hitting the ball in strange areas.
"He's really hard to bowl to and it was a massive boost to our team that he wasn't out on the pitch because he's a very tricky guy to bowl at."
Lewis' views are shared by Lancashire captain Mark Chilton, who believes Loye's ability to hit unorthodox shots - he is a leading exponent of playing the reverse sweep against seamers - should make him a guaranteed selection.
"He's a very destructive player," enthused Chilton. "He's quite unorthodox, capable of hitting good seam bowling when they bowl line and length, capable of hitting it out of the ground.
"That's exciting, that's what people want to see, he's had a lot of success with it and I hope they take him as an option in the final 15-man squad."
Loye, Warwickshire all-rounder Darren Maddy, Leicestershire's Jeremy Snape and Hampshire's Dimitri Mascarenhas are all expected to be considered while there is not likely to be room in the squad for Ian Bell or Monty Panesar.
Lewis could also come under consideration and he has urged the selectors not just to look at statistics but also to consider those players in county cricket who are good at handling pressurised situations.
"You have got to have guys who are composed under pressure who can do their skills," he explained.
"Everyone has different options against different bowlers and everyone bowls different balls to different batsmen, but it's the guys who can keep their cool and keep their head when the pressure is on that you have to look at.
"It's not just about how their stats go or how many runs they score or how many wickets they take, it's the guys that you think will keep their cool in the big pressure situation."
He added: "It is up to the selectors. I can only do what I do for Gloucestershire. It is up to them to pick the team.
"I feel I've done really well when I've played for England and my stats will stand up against anyone."