Eaton rises to Lloyd's challenge
Chris Eaton should have been in the British Davis Cup team for last year's debacle at Wimbledon against Austria, and he sure as hell should be in this time after winning a six hour 40 minute play-off match on Wednesday.
If you missed it, Eaton beat James Ward 21-19 in the fifth set on the second day of the mini-tournament to pick Andy Murray's Davis Cup team-mates for the forthcoming tie with Ukraine.
The match started at 10.40 in the morning and finished at 6.20 in the evening. Nobody can be in any doubt how much these players want selection - what an effort from both men.
A final round of matches is scheduled for Friday but John Lloyd may as well call it off now. Hasn't he seen enough?
Is he really going to turn around to Eaton and say "sorry mate, nice try winning that six hour match and everything - but I'm going with the other bloke." It would completely undermine the logic of the experiment.
Two places in the four-man team are available this week (doubles specialist Ross Hutchins is already picked along with Murray) and Josh Goodall has also impressed sufficiently to make it to Glasgow for next weekend's tie. He beat Alex Slabinsky in five sets on Wednesday and has two wins out of two, like Eaton.
The undefeated duo will square off on Friday to do the final part of John Lloyd's job for him - confirm who will play second singles alongside Murray. But it's completely unnecessary. Surely better to get them both in the team, conserve energy and to make a pick in Glasgow?
Eaton, 21, is suggesting again that he could be a man for the big occasion.
Why he wasn't selected for the last match back in September remains a mystery. Remember he qualified for Wimbledon last summer, won a round in the main draw and acquitted himself well against Dimitry Tursunov in the second round. His serve was a major weapon and said he felt at home on the big stage.
All of which presumably set him up nicely for a return to the same courts and a Davis Cup debut against Austria - only for captain Lloyd to ignore him in favour of Alex Bogdanovic. The result was so predictable as Britain lost 3-2 to confirm their relegation, and Eaton looked on, bemused.
In fairness, the Surrey man's form since that Wimbledon breakthrough has been disappointing, even at the third-tier Futures level, but he's turned it on this week using his big serve to good effect and looking comfortable at the net.
And if we're using these unique play-offs to search for clues about our lower-ranked players, we've learned a few things about Eaton:
1. He's got the stomach for a fight.
2. He can last the distance, and win.
3. He can confidently rely on his serve.
OK, he's still far from a world beater, but let's get him in the team now - same with the impressive Goodall.
There's no need for any further delay or wasted energy (could you imagine if the pair had another five setter on Friday?) - the side has surely been picked.
Which is unfortunate for James Ward, who could end the week with two wins and one narrow defeat, but his chance may come again.
Now it's up to Lloyd to put some work in himself.
His players have performed, now the captain needs to get them up to Glasgow, watch practice like a hawk, and use his own judgement to make the final decision about who plays second singles. That is what he is paid to do, after all.