There was a lot of cricket on the go this month, with October's XI pretty representative of the successful teams. No surpise, then, that India stars line the ranks.
<B>1. Lendl Simmons (West Indies)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Martin Guptill (New Zealand)</I><BR>Nine half-centuries down the line, the talented right-hander shrugged the proverbial monkey off his back by going to his maiden ODI ton amid a rather plentiful series against Bangladesh. The Windies haven't seen such a solid limited-overs opener in a while, with a Test return sure to greet Simmons against India. Perhaps there is life after Chris Gayle after all…
<B>2. David Warner (Australia, New South Wales Blues)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Taufeeq Umar (Pakistan)</I><BR>Granted, the hard-hitting left-hander didn't have a great series against South Africa, with a steely half-century his only saving grace on the back of two ducks on the trot. His theatrics in the preceding Champions League, however, are worthy of acclaim. The first man to land back-to-back centuries in Twenty20 cricket, the switch-hitting Warner was entirely merciless – left- or right-handed. Just ask Chennai and Bangalore, who collectively copped 19 sixes at the hands of the New South Welshman's brutality.
<B>3. Brendan Taylor (Zimbabwe)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)</I><BR>Zimbabwe's return to topflight cricket continues to treat their captain very well. While his consecutive tons were both in losing causes to the New Zealanders, his 75 was at the forefront of a hugely impressive and successful chase in the final one-dayer in Bulawayo. The one-off Test awaits his further impact…
<B>4. Virat Kohli (India, Bangalore Royal Challengers)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Kevin Pietersen (England)</I><BR>Not the first man to pick up on a sweet run of form in the Champions League, Kohli's century in the series opener against England set a timely precedent that his unbeaten 86 not out in Mumbai continued. For his effort, the right-hander has finally pipped Suresh Raina to a Test berth ahead of the arrival of the West Indies.
<B>5. Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Marlon Samuels (West Indies)</I><BR>Bangladesh's one-man army has at least shirked one responsibility from his three-fold role after losing the captaincy, but his task as the team's number-one gun on a bowling and batting front remains rife. Ever struggling for support, the former skipper just goes about his business with modest acceptance and this month had the Windies frustrated by his rearguard action in the middle order and flummoxed by his underestimated left-arm spin.
<B>6. Mahendra Dhoni (India, captain, wicketkeeper)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh)</I><BR>While Alastair Cook and company have come crashing down to earth, Dhoni is over the moon. Revenge series or not, India reaffirmed their status as world champions with a quite thorough demolition job in Delhi and beyond, with due thanks to their captain. There's no getting around the right-hander's remarkable run, with 87 not out, 35 not out, 15 not out and 75 not out deconstructing the tourists at every turn. Superb finishing, indeed. Solid enough behind the stumps, as always.
<B>7. Ravindra Jadeja (India)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Samit Patel (England)</I><BR>India have longed for a true all-rounder since the demise of Irfan Pathan and, while he may not be the seaming variety the nation had looked forward to, Jadeja is certainly the spinning option for the foreseeable future – not Yusuf Pathan. A late injury replacement in England, the wooly-haired left-hander has since put in a string of handy cameos alongside Dhoni and struck up a very effective bowling partnership with Ravichandran Ashwin in finishing as the series' top wicket-taker with 11 victims.
<B>8. Ravichandran Ashwin (India)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan)</I><BR>Once the relatively unknown entity that lifted the Chennai Super Kings to Indian Premier League glory and now the key cog in India's spin-bowling machine, Ashwin's stocks climbed again against England. Lulled into a false confidence by the seamers' opening overs, the opposition were often undone at the introduction of Ashwin. More responsibility is his to seize after Harbhajan Singh was left out of the first Test squad to take on the West Indies.
<B>9. Junaid Khan (Pakistan)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Umar Gul (Pakistan)</I><BR>A stint with Lancashire has done the young seamer the world of good, with the knowledge and experience gained in England taken to Abu Dhabi, where he rose above a pitch primed for batting. Sri Lanka were clueless in the face of his seam in the first Test and in the second fell prey to both Khan and Umar Gul. With Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir in the dock, Junaid's emergence bodes well for Pakistan.
<B>10. Pat Cummins (Australia, New South Wales Blues)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Doug Bracewell (New Zealand)</I><BR>An Australian unit sans Brett Lee and dogged by an inconsistent Mitchell Johnson is enjoying some apparent light at the end of the tunnel, with Cummins taking to international cricket handsomely. The fast bowler's impressive run in the two T20Is and ODI series stands him in good stead for the real deal later on the tour – two much-anticipated Tests. A Proteas order usually steady in the face of express pace seemed to genuinely struggle against Cummins' speed, which will only increase as his teenage frame matures.
<B>11. Steven Finn (England)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Morne Morkel (South Africa)</I><BR>The lone ranger in an otherwise plighted attack in India, the lanky fast bowler did his burgeoning career a great favour by succeeding in the adverse conditions of the sub-continent. With James Anderson and Stuart Broad out of action, Andy Flower will be pleased right-armer Finn was able to step up in their absence. A spot in the first-choice Test XI is his next time around.
The Lancastrian was fresh off some standout displays in the 2003 World Cup.
Hales lost his place in last year’s World Cup-winning squad after news of a second failed test for recreational drugs.
The Warwickshire all-rounder is one on 18 bowlers to be selected for personalised practice.
The West Indies are due to arrive on these shores first this summer.
Broad took part in an individual training session at Trent Bridge.
Clare Connor suggested England are considering hosting a Women’s Tri-Series also involving India and South Africa.
The designated bowlers, whose identitites have not been confirmed, will have their temperatures checked.
The ECB had planned to introduce 40 professional contracts this summer across eight regional hubs.
County are waiting on a decision.