Just what have the decision-makers in English sport got against Sussex's finest?

On Monday there was the comical sight of Albion's Bobby Zamora, arguably the most feared striker outside the Premiership, floundering around on the left wing for England under-21s and, surprise, surprise, not making a very good fist of it.

It was a shocking tactical blunder on the part of boss David Platt. Almost as bad, in fact, as the treatment the country's cricket selectors have meted out to James Kirtley in the last couple of weeks.

As he flew back down from the North-East yesterday to rejoin his county, Kirtley must have been wondering what he has to do to play Test cricket for his country.

His domestic record is second to none. He is the only bowler to have taken more than 50 wickets every season for the past five years and already this year he has 28 first-class victims. Only two quickies have taken more and one of them is West Indian Nixon McLean.

At 28, Kirtley is not in the first flush of youth but if the selectors are using age as an argument against playing him just remember that Richard Johnson, who is making his debut instead in the second Test, is in fact two weeks older.

Johnson is probably a bit quicker and certainly gets more bounce than Kirtley, but how are they ever going to know if the Sussex man can do a job at the highest level if they keep sending him home early? Surely, against as weak a side as Zimbabwe, this week was the ideal opportunity to pitch him in.

The sad thing is that his chance of ever pulling on an England sweater may have disappeared for ever.

When he was left out of the XI for the first Test at Lord's, he probably consoled himself with the fact that he would be in the one-day squad.

Instead, a week ago, Darren Gough was recalled along with a batch of youngsters and Kirtley put on stand-by.

By the time the Test match summer resumes against South Africa on July 27, Andrew Caddick and Matthew Hoggard, both contracted players, will be fit and Kirtley, regardless of how many wickets he takes between now and then, may find himself even further down the pecking order.

All the many people in Sussex and beyond who have admired the way he has overcome the many obstacles he has had to face in his career, not least twice re-modelling his action, will hope not.