| Banger, as he is called
in the English dressing room because of his love of sausages, cannot
wait for the new international season to start and I am sure the
Pakistan, South Africa and Zimbabwe bowlers will value what has
become one of the prized wickets in the game. It will not come cheaply.
Marcus's home track of Taunton, in my opinion the best in the country
to bat on, will have helped him get back his timing and rhythm and
he will reap the benefits of that throughout the summer.
Freddie Flintoff, one of the stars of the World Cup, has carried
on where he left off in South Africa and I believe England will
see more of the new and improved Lancastrian. He came through his
long injury absence as if he had never been away and I am convinced
that being out for as long as he was helped him take stock, reflect
and emerge a better player.
Freddie really enjoys wielding his new Woodworm bats and he is also
bowling at a lively pace. All in all he is another in good shape
for the summer.
A familiar face might be joining Tres and Freddie in the one-day
team because Yorkshire's Darren Gough is on the comeback trail
and a fit Goughie is a bonus for any team.
I had half an hour of his company when I went down to see Wasim
Akram play for his new county Hampshire and Goughie was
in great form
talking through every one of the 70 odd runs
he had scored. I was not sure what to expect when he came in to
bowl, but there was plenty of the old bravado and style. It may
take him a little while to get fully into the groove but I expect
him to be playing for his country again some time during the summer.
If he can get full fitness back then Goughie has two or three years
left at the top
and that's good news for England.
My old pal Wasim has settled in really well at Hampshire and his
new county is looking after him exceptionally well. He's among the
wickets and the runs will follow so it has turned out into a fine
move for all concerned. I know the Hampshire lads enjoy his company
and he does theirs.
It was very pleasing to see Jimmy
Anderson's winter efforts - especially at the World Cup
where he was outstanding -rewarded with a central contract and I
know he cannot wait for the international campaigns to start again.
Rarely in the history of our game has a youngster come into the
side and settled so quickly and there is a lot more to come from
my former Lancashire colleague.