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Ramps for The Oval?

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Adam Mountford | 16:41 UK time, Wednesday, 12 August 2009

I am not sure I can remember so much speculation ahead of the naming of an England cricket squad.

Seemingly every single person I have met since watching England's demise at Headingley has an opinion on which 11 players should be walking out at The Oval on Thursday, 20 August.

Many people don't just have an opinion, they claim somehow to know exactly who is going to be selected.

In the last couple of days I have been told that, without a doubt, Marcus Trescothick is going to return, that Rob Key will definitely feature and that the selectors will surprise all of us and barely make any changes at all.

Part of my job as the BBC cricket producer is to send reporters around the country and it has been quite a challenge to make sure all the contenders for The Oval are being watched by members of the BBC team.

So far apart from Key most of those vying for batting places for the deciding Test have not exactly been pulling up trees with failures for Bopara, Trott and Shah.

Mark Ramprakash

Then there is the case for the recall of Mark Ramprakash. As you may have heard in BBC Sport's special interview, the prolific Surrey batsman says he is both available and confident he could do a good job for England at his home ground - although as yet he tells us the selectors have not been in touch.

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Although the form of Ramprakash at county level over the past four years certainly makes a really strong case for inclusion, I fear the story may go the way of the summer's other great sporting comebacks with Tom Watson, Michael Schumacher and Lance Armstrong not quite completing the fairytale returns that were hoped for by sporting romantics.

However I'm a sporting romantic rather than a realist, so for what it is worth I have stuck him in the side I would select for The Oval:

Strauss, Cook, Key, Collingwood, Ramprakash, Prior, Flintoff, Broad, Swann, Harmison, Anderson. 12th man: Panesar.

I have gone for Key as he is the sort of unflappable character who should be able to cope with the pressure of an Ashes decider and I have gone for Ramps batting at five. I have included Monty Panesar in the 12 just in case the pitch looks like it might be a spinner's wicket.

Now I would love to know what you make of this squad - but I will qualify my suggestions with the following.

I do not think for a moment this is what England will do and to be honest I don't really think it is what they should do. Let's face, it a week or so ago England were favourites to win the Ashes and consistency in selection is one of the major improvements in English cricket in modern times.

But this is a one-off cup final. England must do all they can to win this game. Like many better qualified judges I reckon that Ravi Bopara will come good and Ian Bell is surely too good a player to be discarded for long. But at Headingley, Bopara and Bell looked like players very short of confidence, and we might as well take a risk in a match like this.

It is impossible to predict which way the selectors will go - but it promises to be a fascinating listen on Sunday morning at 0930 BST when the England squad is revealed during BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek.

It should be a really good weekend for cricket fans with the ever-popular Twenty20 Cup Finals Day on Saturday filling the void while we all get geared up for next week's Ashes climax.

We are keeping our fingers crossed for good weather, but if the sun shines in Birmingham then Edgbaston should be a lively venue again with the supporters of Northamptonshire, Sussex, Kent and Somerset likely to make plenty of noise.

It is one of my favourite days in the cricket calendar and has produced some fantastic drama over the years.

We will have ball-by-ball commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra from 1115 BST with our team including Simon Hughes, Simon Mann, Alison Mitchell and Kevin Howells along with Chris Adams and Phil Tufnell.

And I can exclusively reveal that Tuffers has been specially selected to commentate on the legendary mascot race this year - it should be worth tuning in for that moment alone!

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Panesar twelfth man? - As long as we have a few neo-Gary Pratts to take over any substitute fielding that might become necessary.

  • Comment number 2.

    Mark Ramprakash could be on the verge of making a shock Test comeback in the 5th and final Ashes Test Match at the Oval next week.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    Australia won the 4th Test Match at Headingley by an innings and 80 runs to level the series at 1-1, England’s middle order batsmen Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood only managed 16 runs between them in that match.
    Ramprakash meanwhile was making the 108th Century of his career, and at 39 he is in the form of his life, prompting many to say that the Surrey batsman should be included on a one off basis.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    Ramprakash’s experience of the Oval wicket having played at Surrey for 8 years could well work in his favour.
    The 39 year old has made two Test Centuries ironically the last of them was against Australia at the Oval in 2001.
    England must win at the Oval to regain the Ashes.

  • Comment number 3.

    It isn't just the batsmen that are proving third rate at the moment, the bowling is at best suspect too.

    The Oval is not a bouncy pitch so is Harmison a viable bowler?
    So perhaps replace him with the suddenly forgotten Sidebottom, who is doing well and can reliably bowl line and length if things don't swing, something Anderson and Broad really do need to learn?

  • Comment number 4.

    Key for sure. I was surprised he was dropped in the first place. He did well for England. Why, when you are casting around for a Number Three, would you overlook him? Aren't you tired of selectors plumping for people with talent and no character: Bell? And why is Miller a selector anyway?He was a very average cricketer. Why not Gooch or Boycott? Those two were outstanding and have clear perspective and opinions that stand scrutiny. And whose idea was it to put the first test up for bidding and award it to Cardiff? What if it had been played at Lords? We'd have more time to WIN the Ashes and not to waste five days on something scarcely resembling cricket.

  • Comment number 5.

    I actually think that is probably the best team England can field - I am not sure about Ramps but I am certain that he can no worse than Bell.

    I am not convinced by your 12th man though. I don't think that even on a spinning wicket we can play Monty - he's not a cunning enough bowler in a crucial game against a team like the Aussies.

    I'd prefer to see another quickie because I think the biggest weakness with the team you've named is Harmison. I am inclined to include him in my ideal team, but ONLY if someone goes out before play on the morning of the first day and gets a new ball to bounce off the pitch like one of those rubber balls you can get for 20p out of the machine in the arcade.

    I jest, but Harmison doesn't have the temperament to bowl in a decider Test Match unless the conditions look perfect for him - I'd want to have a backup option that is preferably Sidebottom.

  • Comment number 6.

    That side looks good! I am still baffled by the fact that it's taken the selectors until the last test to even consider a replacement for Bopara. Yes he was good heading into the series, great even, but once milk goes sour you stop drinking it, right? Well Bopara has gone very sour indeed.
    Bell should have come in for the third test then we might have seen the Bell we've seen for Warwickshire.
    But regardless of all this speculation, and who should play instead of who, I think the main difference from 2005 to now goes by the name of Marcus Trescothick. With Tresco opening with Strauss and Cook in the 3 position where he scored centuries for fun, I think our middle order would've been much less flimsy and we would've seen a batting force to be reckoned with. Am I wrong?

  • Comment number 7.

    I would make three changes to your team Adam, my team for the Oval is:

    Trescothick
    Cook
    Strauss (c)
    Ramprakash
    Collingwood
    Prior (wk)
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Sidebottom
    Onions

    I must say I have been left flabbergasted by respected commentators like Jonathan Agnew and others and now yourself, proposing Rob Key at number three. And the reasoning given have been words like "calm", "phlegmatic" and "unflappable".

    Apart from his one double ton against a poor windies team a few years back, when has Key ever looked like anything other than a rabbit trapped in headlights when playing for England in any form of the game? This myth which is now being built about him being a calm, composed player who can handle the pressure at international level must stop now.

    Harmison is another, who for obvious reasons should be nowhere near the oval test and I would easily pick Onions over him. And my third change to your team is Sidebottom for Anderson. I should point out I am not a Jimmy basher like a lot of people seem to be, I just think Sidebottom would be far more potent and offer much greater control on the kind of flat track the oval is likely to be.

    Finally, if Tresco does refuse to come out of retirement, then I would go with either Shah or Trott at number three, moving Strauss back to opening with Cook.

  • Comment number 8.

    All the focus is on the batting line-up but we need to win and the main risk is that they win the toss and then bat us out of contention for a win. I think we should take a risk and play an extra bowler.

  • Comment number 9.

    We need him at the Oval. Without a doubt.

    It cannot be compared to other similar 'combacks' this year

    Would Tom Watson, age 59, really be seen as failure by losing in the playoff of a major in 2009?

    I don't think Lance Armstrong did bad coming 3rd?

    Schumacher is Injured- unfortunately.

    Ramps averages over a hundred.

    All great athletes having a good year.

  • Comment number 10.

    Why all ths talk about a Ramprakash comeback? After all he's scoring all his runs in Division 2; the bowling here is hardly world-class: a far call from the cauldron of Test cricket v the Aussies.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'd choose this XI

    Strauss
    Key
    Cook
    Ramprakash
    Collingwood
    Flintoff
    Prior
    Broad
    Swann
    Anderson
    Sidebottom

    Because it's a one off test - players in form need to be selected which is why I've plumped for Sidebottom over Onions - he's a similar bowler but more importantly - he's in form!

  • Comment number 12.

    Agree with your XI for the most part, especially with the batting order. Ramprakash deserves the play. His average against the Australians in over 40, and now is not the time to give anyone their test debut. Bell and Bopara have gone back to their counties and failed. Both must be dropped. Rob Key will add the grit and suddenly the batting looks a bit more solid. I'm not convinced on Harmisson though. My only decision would be Onions or Harmisson. Whoever doesn't make it can be the 12th man.

  • Comment number 13.

    Harmison? HARMISON!! Are you drunk? Hopefully the last test was the last we ever see of this ignorant whinger. "Headingly wicket, what shall I do Otis?", "pitch it up Steve, pitch it up". "Thanks Otis but I know best, I'll bowl short and then spray it around all over, then I'll have a whinge about my family being so far away that I was distracted". If the selectors ever hand him another chance then we know they are as incom petent as we suspect they are.

  • Comment number 14.

    Agree totally with Adam that never before there has been so much speculation in naming an England cricket squad. Not only because of failure from a couple of batsmen and some injury concerns, but also because we're talking about the last game of THE sporting event of the year. A contest that, looking at the last 20 or so years, England often already lost at this stage. The tension and expectations are huge! So who will make the squad?

    - Strauss, Cook obvious
    - 3 and 4. Johnson has Bell on his wish list and Bopara is vulnerable at three. But I have a sneaking suspicion that they'll stick with Bopara and change Bell with Trott. Key will only come in contention as a replacement for Bopara. I don't think the selectors are gonna give a on-off opportunity to Ramps.
    - Collingwood, Prior, Flintoff (if fit), Broad, Swann and Anderson (if fit) are in.
    - Sidebottom replacing Onions. Onions hasn't done anything wrong. But if you want to win, you have to have Flintoff at his best (Quick, fiery, like a man possessed. But not by overbowling him or him being the stock bowler. Just five-over spells eating the Aussies alive!). With Anderson and Broad, who can be expensive, you have to have a guy who builds pressure by stemming the flow of runs. That would be Sidebottom for me.

    From an idealistic and romantic point of view, it would be nice to have Tresco and Ramps back......but that's not going to happen.

  • Comment number 15.

    hunterSWestHam you have made more sense in your message than most so called experts on tv,radio etc,have said in the last week or so...
    Key has to play, Bell and Bopara are out of their depth and as hunterSWestHam said, they have very little or no character,Key is the man to win the ashes but will he get the chance? I doubt it because a)Strauss fears he may be more respected and listened to by the players than him and b) The management do not like his laid back,enjoys a beer type of attitude.
    my team would be
    Strauss,Key,Cook,Trott,Collinwood,Prior,Flintoff,Swann,Anderson,Harminson/sidebottom(depending on conditions),Panesar,12th man Onions.

  • Comment number 16.

    I dont get this whole Ramprakash thing hes too old and yes hes made runs in county but so has Bell (except for today!!) and look how hes doing!! I dont believe mass changes are the right thing but Key should come in for Bell and Bopara should move down to 5 and Trott should take over from Collingwood (what has he done lately) and go to 4. Bopara will be one of our best batmens hes just in the wrong place!!!!

    Strauss, Cook, Key, Trott, Bopara, Prior, Flintoff, Broad, Swann, Anderson, and onions.

  • Comment number 17.

    It could not matter who England pick. The toss is going to be so important.My prediction is for Ponting to win the toss and score a hundred himself as Australia rack up 400 on the first day. And that'll be that.

  • Comment number 18.

    Trescothick would still be an automatic selection if he hadn't dropped out of international cricket, he would be a shoe in IF he wanted to play. Ramprakash may be scoring runs for fun, but I didn't think he was good enough in his prime & I don't reckon he's good emough now. Bringing Ramprakash back is akin to recalling Steve Bull to score goals for the England football team. Key is in form & is probably worth a shout. England lack talent in the batting department & Bopara, Bell & Collingwood are among the best we have available.

  • Comment number 19.

    Re hunterS, Gooch was a selector for a few years, he was dire, the end of his time in the job coincided with England being officially the worst side in the world at the end of 1999. And for good measure, he's been Bopara's staunchest supporter this summer. The selectors should be people who show a shrewd mind about cricket, whether they were hugely talented or not. Miller probably doesn't fulfil this criterion either though, nor Giles. Whitaker might just have it though.

  • Comment number 20.

    England will not reclaim the Ashes from the surging Aussies, not with the passengers on this taem.

  • Comment number 21.

    The reason that there's so much discussion on this topic is because our cupboard is bare. English cricket is poor at all levels but hyped up by the media (especially Sky TV) to encourage fans, who don't know any better, to spend lots of money on it. And sadly, the poor souls do. They are being ripped off !
    This England side would have been hammered out of sight by the West Indies side of 25 years ago.

  • Comment number 22.

    No way will Ramps be picked. If we're picking winners of reality shows, are we having Joe Swash at 4, with Brian from Big Brother at 5! I've gone off my point quicky, but this has to be the team.

    Trescothick, Strauss, Cook, Trott, Prior, Collingwood, Flintoff, Broad, Swann, Onions & Anderson.

    We came flying back after Cardiff when we got out of jail. We will do the same now, but only my picking the best players and giving those Aussies some batsmen who they can be worried out. Trescothick and Trott have there bowlers chasing shadows already. Bopara & Bell & Ramps will have them sleeping well.

  • Comment number 23.

    It would be interesting if Ramps is selected for the Oval decider and then manages to score a hundred in each innings? That would really be a damper for silly age discrminators! No?

  • Comment number 24.

    As much as I admire Ramps , it's not the right choice after all this time .....

    The one batsman who could make a huge difference is Marcus Trescothick ......but is it right to select him for a one off test match when we know he won't ever tour again ...?

    Of course it is , this is The Ashes we are talking about .......and any way of winning them back would be acceptable ...

  • Comment number 25.

    Oh why do people still keep going on about Trescothick,he has retired,leave him alone.

  • Comment number 26.

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. WHAT is occurring?
    We all know what will happen now don't we. It will be an unchanged squad. (We may as well bat with nine men.) The Essex Mafia will NEVER pick Key and will always retain the excellent 20/20 player in Bopara - he is key (no pun intended) to The ECBs marketing plans for children who aren't actually interested cricket, for they are the future!

    The Aussies will decide when they can be bothered to take Boparas and Bells wickets. So, they simply cannot play in this match.

    Ramps, like Bell, has demonstrated he cannot take the pressure. Anyone remember last year when he was on 99 first-class hundreds? Oh he just breezed to the 100th 100 didn't he? No. He didn't: He paniced. Might as well ask Hicky!

    Our only hope is Banger. Mebbe strauss can ask his old mucker Trescothick to come back for just one more game. Otherwise it has to be Robert Key and Jonathan Trott (on debut).

    So. To win the most important match for 4 years:-

    Trescothick
    Cooke
    Strauss (C)
    Key
    Collingwood
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Swann
    Sidebottom or Panesar (depending on the pitch)
    Anderson
    Onions


    Confident?

    No, me neither.

    Did anyone disagree with ANYTHING in Justin Langers dossier?

    No. Me neither.

    PS Not that Geoffery!

  • Comment number 27.

    I would go with your selection Adam with one change. Any other fast bowler other than Harmison who has had enough chances. Sadly Bopara and Bell need to make way for this match for an in form batsmen who will also be able to handle the pressure

  • Comment number 28.

    If we have not ordered an Oval 'turner' then why not is the question.

    Spin is the one area that we are strongest for sure.

    Yes Key, Yes Ramps, Yes Monty and definitely Yes Sidebottom !

  • Comment number 29.

    I completely disagree that England's consistency in selection has been a good thing - this is pretty much the same batting line up that has seen us drop down the rankings over the last four years.

    I'd be more swinging (?) with my axe as appart from the 95 when the Aussies were lobbing it all over the place at Lords, Cook has done little of substance this series, so he'd be out. Ian 'Ashley's Chum' Bell has done all that been expected of him, sadly, and ha been out at least seven times in his three innings totalling 60 odd.

    I would agree with dropping Bopara down the order, although I wouldn't stop until he reached number five of the Essex second eleven.

    I'd go for:

    Straus
    Key (a much better batsman than when we was dropped)
    Moore or Ramps (it's his home pitch)
    Trott (an in form SAffer at number 4 - can't do any harm).
    Colly (just - if he doesn't perform then that should be it for him)
    Prior (not messed up too badly with the gloves - yet)
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Onions
    Anderson or maybe Sidebottom, but I've not seen him bowl this year and still haven't forgiven him for the woeful pie-chucking stint he put in at Edgbaston last year. Is he fit again?

    Most of these changes should have been made in stages over the last couple of years though, as well we all know (or at least I do).

  • Comment number 30.

    I completely disagree that England's consistency in selection has been a good thing - this is pretty much the same batting line up that has seen us drop down the ranking over the last four years.

    I'd be more swinging (?) with my axe as appart from the 95 when the Aussies were lobbing it all over the place at Lords, Cook has done little of substance this series, so he'd be out. Ian 'Ashley's Chum' Bell has done all that has been expected of him, sadly, and has been out at least seven times in his three innings totalling 60 odd.

    I would agree with dropping Bopara down the order, although I wouldn't stop until he reached number five of the Essex second eleven.

    I'd go for:

    Straus
    Key (a much better batsman than when we was dropped)
    Moore or Ramps (it's his home pitch)
    Trott (an in form SAffer at number 4 - can't do any harm).
    Colly (just - if he doesn't perform then that should be it for him)
    Prior (not messed up too badly with the gloves - yet)
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Onions
    Anderson or maybe Sidebottom, but I've not seen him bowl this year and still haven't forgiven him for the woeful pie-chucking stint he put in at Edgbaston last year. Is he fit again?

    Most of these changes should have been made in stages over the last couple of years though, as well we all know (or at least I do).

  • Comment number 31.

    Personally I'd have both Trescothick and Ramprakash in as they are certainly among the top 5 batters in the country. It's a one off game with the Ashes at stake.

    I'd also drop Broad, harsh probably after his performance in the last test, but I also don't believe he is among the top 5 bowlers in the country. On probably a flat pitch we are going to struggle to take 20 wickets as it is, and we need our best bowlers.

    Harmsion I would keep in as I know he's maddingly frsutrating, but on his day he is capable of ripping through a side.

    My team would be therefore as follows:

    Strauss, Trescothick, Cook, Ramprakash, Collingwood, Prior, Flintoff, Swann, Harmison, Anderson, Onions.

    I fully expect though, the selectors to stick with their conservative policy, and not pick Ramprakash, or try and coax Trescothick out of retirement for a one off game. If this is the case then I would bring Key in for Bopara, for the mere fact that he is an opener, and would leave us less vulnerable to the new ball following an early wicket. I would also retain Bell despite him being a frustrating talent, and in great danger of not fulfilling his true potential.

  • Comment number 32.

    Monty Panesar is part of England's problem; not the solution!

    Every selector who considers this 'liabilty', this limpet should have their credentials reviewed!

  • Comment number 33.

    AdrianKent, I remember the 80s, trust me consistency in selection is way better than just thumbing through the yellow pages.

    I am not in favour of picking Ramprakash for the Oval. Key I think you can make a good case for, but Ramps hasn't been near the selectors thoughts for what, 6 or 7 years at least. I think to go back to him would give the Aussies an enormous psychological lift. It would show English cricket in absolute panic. I have to say this is one selection that leaves me pleased I am not a selector. Sometimes 11 places doesn't seem to be enough places for everyone you want to pick, I think this time the selectors may be scratching their heads for 11 players!!

    I think after the Oval, England need to make one of those period leaps into the future English cricket makes. (think 1989-90 or 1999-2000, come to think of it it does seem to be every ten years!) Time to cast around for a nucleus of guys to take English cricket forward. I am kind of thinking 1 more chance for Bell at the Oval, then out on your backside for good, if he doesn't score big. Bopara should be left out at the Oval, but told there and then that he will be picked to tour South Africa. Then the search is on for other new guys, Denley and Hildreth are two names that spring to mind.

  • Comment number 34.

    Adam perfect team mate, except drop Colly to 5 and raplace Ramps with Trott.

    Team:

    Strauss (C)
    Cook
    Key
    Trott
    Collingwood
    Prior (W)
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Harmison
    Anderson.

    12th man: Panesar.

  • Comment number 35.

    What really needs to be changed go with the same 11 that won at lords except take anderson out because he is expensive and bring in sidebottom nothin needs to be changed drastically

  • Comment number 36.

    oh yeh and because there is no pietersen bring in trott

  • Comment number 37.

    I reckon they should play both trescothick and ramprakash as they are the most in-form batsmen in the county circuit. my 11 would be this:
    strauss, trescothick, cook, ramprakash, collingwood, prior, flintoff, broad, swann, anderson, onions,
    England should play three opening batsmen as then they should be able to cope better should an early wicket fall. If flintoff were to be able to play the nsidebottom should come in...hamison has had too many chances. it was a mistake to go for him at headingly as it's knon to swing. sidebottom would have been a much better option.

  • Comment number 38.

    A loyal, yet realistic and imaginative, selection, it's a shame the real selectors don't have those qualities. I don't know why people are so negative about Monty, it's no wonder his confidence is low, he's been treated shamefully by the England setup. He's number 92 in a list of 100 best Test cricketers played against by a current commentator - someone who knows a bit about spinners - Shane Warne. He's the only change I would make to your list; two spinners is good for the Oval. Swap Monty for Harmison, and use him! Being chosen for this crucial match will fix his confidence instantly. If it's bouncy, his variable speed and height will take wickets. If it's flat, his accuracy will tie one end down and may take wickets. Also, even if Freddie can't play, the crowd loves Monty too and he will get them going. We need cricketers with personality as well as skill!

  • Comment number 39.

    Leaving aside the fact that Ramprakesh should never have been dropped, it is bizarre to suggest that he be called up for one test match and then dropped again. If he is one of the best batsmen in the country, then he ought to be in the squad until he deteriorates. He could play for England for a year or two before age begins to take its toll, surely.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think that Bell and Collingwood should go, The Aussies have had Colly as a rabbit most of the time he has played, on a flat wicket like Cardiff then he make it, but not the Oval. Bopara was unlucky in the last test and he would benefit from going down the order. Harmeson will never be a test bowler, and anyway Freddy is back. Broad and Anderson are the future and have not let us down, Anderson was injured in the last match going for a silly run while batting. Swan has to stay for this match, but we should have been giving rashid a chance a long time ago, at least he can spin the ball.

    The team that would excite me batting would be
    Trescothick, The best opening batsman in England
    Cooke Next captain
    Strauss Class not sure about his captaincy
    Ramprekash His home track 100% must
    Bopara Will be better at 5 than 3
    Flintoff We will miss him
    Prior good test batsmen, but Foster is the better keeper by a mile
    Broad Should be taking Freddys place soon
    Swan I would have had Rashid in a long time ago, but not this match
    Anderson Still the best strike bowler we have
    Sidebottom Would be usefull against the Australian lefties 12th man Rashid

  • Comment number 41.

    Ermmm... if Ramprakash's comeback "goes the way of" Tom Watson's, he will put in a magnificent performance for four days, and finish joint top scorer.

    (sound of heel of hand battering into forehead...)

  • Comment number 42.

    Surely the performances of Watson, Armstrong & Schumacher are reasons for the inclusion of Ramps. Proving that age should not be considered a factor when quality is there in abundance.

    I still dont understand why people are harping back 10 years ago when talking about Ramps' inclusion. I think most of us would look back and feel we have improved, and have strived to improve, in our chosen profession over time. Surely the best measure of likely success is sustained recent performances - Ramps has been the best batsmen in CC for the last 4 years, and I think those that have actually seen him bat in that time would agree (I suspect most naysayers last saw him bat when he was playing for England).
    He may not get selected for other reasons, but he should not be left out on the basis he is not one of England's best 5 batsmen.

    I think there is so much debate around this selection because people are seeing an opportunity to put pressure on the selectors to get a team out there that England fans actually want.

  • Comment number 43.

    Some really interesting comments here - i think that the most important thing here is to have batsmen who will score attacking runs and bowlers who will get the 20 wickets to win the game. Whilst going forward it is important to bring in new talent and give people the opportunities, this really is a one off event now where we have to win. As such I would drop Bopara, Bell and Collingwood. Bopara as he's gone at the moment. Collingwood slightly unfortunately, but we need to win this - not save the game.

    Ramprakash totally deserves to be in the side, the fact that the selectors didn't select him when they should have last year is irrelevant. His average against Ausatralia is good. Bowling wise we need the 5 bowlers who have the best chance of getting the wickets. I would include Harmisson for the sole reason that whilst he was not good at Headingly, there is a chance that he can (on his day) do a lot of damage. Where as Onions is unlikely to add any more than Sidebottom and Anderson could

    So I would go for

    Tresco
    Strauss
    Ramprakash
    Key
    Cook
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Swann
    Anderson
    Harmison
    Sidebottom

  • Comment number 44.

    The team will be dependent on whether the ECB want to win the ashes or go for the future. Not sure which way they will go. Why not completely do something different and throw the Aussies off a bit:

    Harmison and Bell out; Ramprakash and L.Wright in and drop Bopara to 6.

    Strauss
    Cook
    Swann (has been up this high in the order for County, give it a bash and see what happens)!?
    Ramprakash (in form - tell him its a one-off, so no pressure)
    Collingwood
    Bopara
    Prior
    Flintoff
    L.Wright (in form with both bat and ball)
    Broad (not a bad no 10!)
    Anderson (if fit)/Sidebottom

    Bat almost all the way down and have lots of bowling options (all can bowl except Strauss, Cook and Prior!)

    Or play safe and just drop Bell and bring in an in form batsmen at 3 and move Collingwood to 4 and drop Bopara to 5 or even 6 behind Prior?







  • Comment number 45.

    I find it hard to argue with Adam's selection, but agree that the selectors are very unlikely to go with this side.

    I'm going to put myself in a class of one here, and also argue that people should perhaps stop having such a go at our selectors! They want England to win as much as any fan and anyone else involved in cricket in this country. They have put in more hours than anyone on this blog in assessing the quality available to them and - crucially - they also get the inside information from coaches, senior players etc. that we are not privy to.

    Its pretty easy to simply select a side based on their averages and their performance in county cricket but I think we'd all agree that this never tells the whole story about a player. Fred is a prime example. I'd argue that they're making the best decisions they can based on what is at present a fairly limited pool of resources. Most people seem to be slating them because they are struggling to pick a side to beat the #1 team in test cricket.

    One final comment: there is a huge amount of focus on the need for us to take 20 wickets to win the Ashes. This is understandable, but it is also one of the great nuances of test cricket that the balance of bat and ball must be perfect. I think we learnt that lesson last weekend. The best way to take 20 wickets against a very strong batting line-up is to put them under pressure. The best way to put them under pressure is to have plenty of runs on the scoreboard. This is the case regardless of who wins the toss (think back to the last but one test v South Africa at this same ground). If conditions are reasonable for batting, I don't think we have a hope of winning the test without posting in excess of 500 in one innings. This focus on our middle order is fully justified. Similarly, Cook really needs to come to the party. I'm not happy with an opener going a 5 test series without a century and I doubt he is either.

  • Comment number 46.

    "The Aussies have had Colly as a rabbit most of the time he has played, on a flat wicket like Cardiff then he make it, but not the Oval."

    I'm not sure what gives you that impression, Collingwood has performed pretty well against the Aussies over the years (and already has 3 fifties in this series) certainly not rabbit material. And even if you think that he needs a flat wicket, isn't the Oval notoriously flat?

    Once again people are questioning what, apart from score runs and field magnificently, has Collingwood ever done for us.

  • Comment number 47.

    mjking73 I saw another post about playing Swann at 3, except it was written in poo,come on are you mad?

  • Comment number 48.

    The quality of english performances this year are clear fom the respective series averages. The level of performance bears much greater resmblance to the disgrace in the Windies this winter against a very 2nd rate test side. The so-called "redeeming" performances against the Windies carry no more weight than performance in 2nd division county cricket. Calls for loyalty to a team that "have got us this far" should be considered in that light. The depressing thing is the lack of real alternatives for the future.

    Bopara cannot continue at 3. Bell has failed repeatedly and scored 0, 0 at the Oval last time round. I think the most revealing thing about his character was the collapse in his county form this summer when recall to the test side was imminent.

    The problem is that the alternatives have a track record of similar failure. Both Ramps and Key, however, are in form. Ramps actually has a decent average against Australia home and away and scored a ton last time at the Oval against the Aussies.

    Not sure where to start on the bowling. The alternatives here are even worse. I am always surprised that Anderson recieves less criticism than Harmison - in the absence of the most favourable conditions, both are erratic and expensive. Bizarrely, the Aussies seem to have a measure of fear of both, As the onus will be on producing wickets from a flat pitch, and in the absence of any other contenders I think they are a reluctant final gamble. Neither, however, should be the lynchpin of a credible test match attack after this.

    Broad's bowling has been pathetic, but batting respectable. His runs should not be vital at the Oval where both teams generaly score highly. If we need a second spinner, then I think he should make way.

    I think it was harsh to drop Sidebottom,, but would be just as harsh to drop Onions now.

    So:
    Strauss
    Cook (another underperformer, but again no alernative)
    Key
    Collingwood (unlike most, he seems to like a scrap)
    Ramprakash
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Anderson
    Broad
    Harmison
    Anderson
    Panesar (12th man, to replace Broad)

  • Comment number 49.

    oops, should have been onions at 11. God spare me two Jimmy Andersons

  • Comment number 50.

    No. 47

    Yes, completely mad - as is all this talk about Tresco, Ramps, Key.... the list goes on.

    In reality minimal changes will probably occur, even none, with just a change in the batting order (not necessarily Swann at 3, he could open!).

  • Comment number 51.

    I am fairly alone in opting for no changes for the Oval. Until last week England have looked the slightly better side most of the time. The batting of the two sides is equal when everyone performs, and it is the bowling that counts. The Australians bowled really well at Headingley for the first time, and that's how they won. The team should have been with their coaches this week. Bell and Collingwood should be told to keep to a leg stump guard against Johnson, Bopara should be told to wake up, and the bowlers should be ORDERED to bowl a line and a length. These guys are our squad. Stop thinking someone out there will do better. Flintoff in for Harmison, but otherwise we hold our nerve!

  • Comment number 52.

    Key should not be allowed anywhere near the side, in his day he was just like Bell and Bopara, good against dross, hopeless against quality.

    Harmisson? No, no, no, no, no!!!

    JingleMa has picked the right team. Bell, Bopara, Harmison, Anderson out. Tresco, Ramps, Flintoff and Sidebottom in. Of the 4 I'd like to drop Anderson is the only one I'd consider keeping in the side. He's a brilliant fielder and unplayable when on song. However, his figures this series don't stand up to scrutiny. We need bowlers who can tie the Aussie's down and stop them scoring too freely.

  • Comment number 53.

    Comparing Ramps to, "the summer's other great sporting comebacks with Tom Watson, Michael Schumacher and Lance Armstrong"

    More like when I turned out again for the local pub team after a six year absence !

  • Comment number 54.

    The two factors which drive the rest of the selection are the mind set / availability of Tresco and the fitness of Freddie. If Tresco is seriously up for consideration, he should open with Cook, bringing Strauss to 3. I have been a big Ramps fan down the years and would bring him in at 4 - he is now much more mature and batting with great freedom, unlike the run-scratching mode he tried to adopt in difficult conditions in his earlier test career. Given the need to win this game, Ramps is a more attacking option than Key, but Key should come in at 3 if Tresco is ruled out. Probably then a choice between Collingwood, Bell and Bopara at 5 - I would be inclined to stick with Collie for his extra fielding credentials and ability to graft if we get a bad start.

    Prior inked in at 6.

    If Freddie is fit, I can't see much point in including Harmison, while Sidebottom would not only offer better control but also create leftie footmarks for the spinners who may be needed to win this game.

    Assuming Freddie at 7, I would stick with Broad at 8 and Swann at 9, leaving Anderson 10 and Sidebottom 11.

    If Freddie isn't fit, it might make sense to consider Luke Wright as a young all-rounder, but that is probably premature for such a key game. The selectors would also have to decide whether they have a better chance under the pitch conditions of taking 20 wickets through spin or bounce. If spin looks the preferred route, Rashid should be considered as a batting spinner(ahead of Monty) at 8, with Broad moving up to 7. If we have to include Harmison to provide the extra pace, the tail is 7 Broad, 8 Swann, 9 Harmison, 10 Anderson, 11 Sidebottom.

  • Comment number 55.

    vcf@45:
    You're not in a minority of one: I entirely agree that the selectors are on our side but with more information available to them than we'll ever have. I do think, however, that somebody should have done something by now about their shocking lack of 20/20 hindsight that most people on here seem to have been blessed with (Irather wonder if there's 1 or 2 of them having second thoughts now about playing Harmison at Headingley).

    Adam:
    I pretty much agree with your batting line-up although I wonder whether it might not be better to play Ramps at 4 so that Colly (theoretically) would have sufficient batting protection to allow him to play the grafting utility role that is his strength and that England desperately need from him.
    I'm a bit confused by the bowling. Virtually the only reason I've heard for including Harmison is that "on his day he's brilliant". True enough but on "their days" Bopara and Bell are brilliant and most people seem to be talking as though it's taken for granted that they're history. Even the most average county bowler has to be able to bowl line and length and if Harmison can't do that, he should be nowhere near any Test match, let alone an Ashes cup final. Sidebottom has at least shown that he's got that ability and greater consistency and has to be a better bet.
    As for Panesar, he's had a pretty ordinary season at county level and he still hasn't got the variation in his game to outwit the Aussies. I'm probably about to strip away the paper-thin veneer of my cricketing knowledge here but I thought the 12th man wasn't allowed to bowl so why pick a bowler (especially one whose fielding is, at best, manky)? If he's not in the XI, Colly (one of the best fielders in the world) must be a shoe-in for 12th man. If he does start, then Bell for 12th man.

  • Comment number 56.

    JefferyBoycott said, "Ramps, like Bell, has demonstrated he cannot take the pressure. Anyone remember last year when he was on 99 first-class hundreds? Oh he just breezed to the 100th 100 didn't he? No. He didn't: He paniced."

    It took him 7 innings to reach his 100th 100. I can think of many good batsman who don't score a hundred every 7 innings, let alone get 100 of them in their career.....

  • Comment number 57.

    I agree with two spinners as you mentioned, but why Monty. Would you class a season that consists of 8 wickets at 74's good enough for this 'cup final'? What's wrong with Rashid or Tredwell? They both can bat. And the argument about debutants shouldn't work with spinners because they are often best when they first break onto the international scene. They are most effective before they get 'worked out'. Monty is a prime example.

    Therefore, I'd choose either Tredwell or Rashid.

  • Comment number 58.

    No.51 How can you possibly say England have been the better side! Look at the averages! If that's not enough, ask how many English players the Aussies would like in their team, other than Strauss, Prior and Flintoff. Ponting alone is worth more than Bopara, Collingwood and Bell.

    Regarding an order to bowl a good line and length. Anderson and Harmison haven proven themselves incapable of that for many years...

  • Comment number 59.

    Ramps should play. He has proven himself for the past 3-4 years in the championship. He will do better than Boppara/Bell and Collinwood put together.

  • Comment number 60.

    Ramprakash is in form, he should play. Simple. :)

  • Comment number 61.

    Unfortunately, most people's selections are conditioned by which county that they support. Anyhow, Cook has been a huge under-achiever but he always seems to escape criticism. Consistency of selection is a hugely over-rated concept. If people are not performing they need to be shown the exit door. Stuff consistency in selection. If the window cleaner didn't clean your windows properly, would you have him back? You would if you're hung up on 'consistency of selection'. Inconsistent batsmen don't deserve consistent selection. Let's not get carried away with Broad's six wickets at Leeds either. Most of the wickets were a result of the tail treating his bowling to ambitious slogs. Broad holds no terrors for top order batsmen. He's an honest performer, but is found out on flat pitches and by good batsmen. He will encounter both at the Oval. Harmison was recalled for the Oval test match last year when Pietersen became captain and the big guy did well. Why play Swann and Panesar in tandem when they both flopped at Cardiff? Australia are probably due to win the toss. They will bat first and post at least 400, most probably in excess of 500. England need at least four days of good weather; secondly to win the toss; and thirdly to take 20 Australian wickets. It's a huge ask.
    The spineless selectors will most probably keep changes to a minimum. What chance is there of producing a dynamic team, when the selectors are so lacking in any dynamic outlook? Botham should be invited into the dressing room on the first morning to deliver a Keegan-esque motivation talk to our eleven zombies, while Boycott should be innvited to give some much-needed advice to the batters. Flower may be a clever guy, but I think he lacks any passion for England's cause.
    Finally, let's not get hung up on Flintoff. He is a glorified mascot. The chances of him taking 10 wickets or posting a century are remote. He will be pronounced 'fit' for the first day, but will get progressively unfit with each passing day. The only team that will beat Australia is themselves. My team:
    Strauss
    Trescothick
    Key
    Ramprakash
    Collingwood
    Flintoff
    Prior
    Swann
    Broad
    Harmison
    Anderson

  • Comment number 62.

    I would tend more towards the view of keeping changes to a minimum. The fact is that this series has been contested between two evenly-matched teams. You can quote whatever statistics you want, but the reality is that England have won one Test and were on top in another and Australia have done likewise. 1-1 with one to play is probably a fair scoreline after four Tests.

    In that context, I would make a maximum of two changes - Key for Bell at three and move Bopara down one and Flintoff must play for Harmison. There is absolutely no way that Mark Ramprakash should be selected in my view. Not because of his age, but because of the fact that he never fulfilled his potential for England at the highest level. Regardless of whether he is having a good season for Surrey, the idea that we should pick somebody who averaged 27 in Test cricket and hasn't played for England in eight years is desperate bordering on crazy.

  • Comment number 63.

    The selectors were happy enough last year to pick Pattinson as a one off so I don't see how picking Ramps or Tresco should be any different. At least they're doing well and have proven track records (admittedly one far more so than the other). Where's Pattinson now, is he even still playing?

  • Comment number 64.

    Ramprakash is not the right choice, his nerves get the better of him on the big stage, and it does not come any bigger than an ashes decider.
    What I think will galvanise England is the derisory comments made by Langer towards certain players. Whether you agree with him or not, it will fire up the players mentiond. I would love to see that P***y Anderson purring with glee having taken 5wkts to win back the ashes.

  • Comment number 65.

    DavidBackhim@61:
    I can assure you my opinions are entirely county-bias-free. I support Derbyshire. Mind, I really really think they should drop Bopara and play Cork.

  • Comment number 66.

    Strauss
    Trescothick
    Key
    Ramprakash
    Prior
    Collingwood
    Flintoff
    Swann
    Sidebottom
    Anderson
    Onions

  • Comment number 67.

    England have taken selection consistency to an absurd degree - to the exclusion of any form related criteria. We will almost certainly choose an unchanged side and lose the Ashes as a result.

  • Comment number 68.

    2 X SPINNERS = ENGland's Strength. Swann + Blackwell / Rashid / Tredwell.
    4 X PACE Bowlers: Flintoff Broad Sidebottom Onions.
    5 BATTERS: Strauss Cook Prior + Key / Trott / Ramps / Tressers.
    MY Team therefore =
    Strauss/Cook/Key/Trott/BLACKWELL/Prior/Flintoff/Broad/Swann/S'bottom/Onions
    England MUST take Risks to WIN = strengthen their Bowling ... Blackwell at 5 means they do so + Bat to 9 too.

  • Comment number 69.

    I cant believe people go on about Ian Bell - a rabbit in the headlights. He has an inflated Test Average due to innings v Bangladesh (or similar) a few years back. I only wish that Graeme Hick had been given the chances Bell has had, against the bowling Bell has had to face. Bringing back Ramps is not a bad thing - if he can get those big scores in Tests, he could well be the cement in the middle order for the next 2-3 years. Key warrants a chance far more than Bell does. Furthermore, how come COOK avoids all the flak - he seems to get out all the time in one of 2 ways yet still remains a firm fixture.
    As to the bowling, if Fred is fit then he Broad and Onions should be 3 of the 4 - how about RASHID. He is not a mug with the bat and may provide that something different on a potential featherbed.
    STRAUSS
    TRES
    RAMPS
    KEY
    BOPARA
    PRIOR
    FRED
    RASHID
    BROAD
    SWANN
    ONIONS

  • Comment number 70.

    People! Stop picking Trescothick in your teams! HE WILL NOT COME BACK.

  • Comment number 71.

    ...I have huge concerns over the debate of whether the Oval will be a spinner's track...and if so we will go down the route of Swann & Panesar...neither of which is in much nick at the mo...I cannot see either of them troubling the Ozzies (even on a turning track)...Monty has forgotten what it is like to trouble batsmen...and Swann has done very little to justify his selection in these Ashes...6 wickets at just shy of an average of 70 and an economy rate of just under 4/over...so he isn't even tying up one end and creating pressure...personally I would pick 5 seamers (good mix of variation)...Flintoff/Broad/Sidebottom/Anderson/Harmison, that way you get enough cover for Freddie: my squad:

    Tres:
    Strauss;
    Cook;
    Ramps;
    Bopara or Trott;
    Prior;
    Flintoff;
    Broad;
    Sidebottom;
    Harmison;
    Anderson.

  • Comment number 72.

    Wholesale changes would hand the test over to the Aussies before a ball has been bowled and none of the suggestions are convincing, Ramps and Key are failed former test players making runs in division two. Remember its 1-1 and on probability England can't play as bad as they were at Headingly again, for a couple of tests anyway.
    The England players should read Langer's dossier and be fired up to prove him and the Aussies wrong. If not, he's proven his points.
    I would love Trescothick to play but Miller has already said there has been no contact. What would the effect on the team be if he was selected but pulled out on the morning of the test or cracked up half way through? Everyone calling for his selection would damn him. It's sad, he should be in his pomp now, but the man has a serious illness.
    I would marginally go for Trott at three, drop Bell, move Bopara down to 4 or 5.
    Bowlingwise if Panesar was bowling like he was a few years ago I'd pick him. But he isn't. If you need two spinners, pick Blackwell, he's taking wickets and will strengthen the batting.
    As for the quicks you can perm three or four out of the existing group and hope they won't bowl as bad again and the ball swing.

  • Comment number 73.

    The selectors picked Pattinson for good reason - he was in form and it was felt the conditions at Headingley would suit him. He actually performed far better than any of the snide critics ever gave him credit for.

  • Comment number 74.

    ..I find the arguments for non-selection of Ramps on the basis he never cut the mustard 10 years ago or why not pick Caddick et al, totally ridiculous...if that is the sole determinative then Key should not get a look in either...you pick the best players on current form regardless of age or historic performances..Ramps is still playing and has been consistently the best batsman in the country for the past 3-4 years. Key's form is up and down and mostly down with the odd purple patch. I thought Ramps should have been selected for the recent W Indies tours as a prelude to the Ashes...personally, I feel Ramps has been treated appallingly by the selectors..in another vein, Bell, Colly & Bopara are unlikely to turn things around for next week..so you cannot do any worse trying out the likes of Ramps or Trott...if you were to persist with somebody, then maybe drop Bopara down to 5 or 6.

  • Comment number 75.

    As with everything...every one has differing opinions...that's what makes the world go round. Here for what it is worth (and I don't know much about cricket...), is my selection:

    Strauss (Cos he is in top form as opener)
    Cook (Works very well with Strauss and is a belter on flat pitches)
    Key (Is the only no3 in top form in the top division)
    Ramprekash (It's his home ground - must mean something?)
    Prior (Has done quite well with the bat so far)
    Foster (Lets have someone who wants to keep wicket)
    Flintoff (Need say no more....)
    Broad (Getting better with the bat)
    Swann (Best spinner we have)
    Anderson (Love his fire and attitude - could almost be Australian)
    Sidebottom (Fast but with more control than Harmison)

    No 12: Panesaar - (Might need another spinner - and he's the best of the rest)

    Well, thats it....what do you all think from this amateur?

    Cheers

  • Comment number 76.

    My team for The Oval

    1 Boycott
    2 Gooch
    3 Vaughan
    4 KP
    5 Gower
    6 Knott
    7 Botham
    8 Snow
    9 Willis
    10 Truman
    11 Underwood

    Seriously though

    1 Strauss
    2 Cook
    3 Key
    4 Collingwood
    5 Bopara
    6 Prior
    7 Flintoff
    8 Broad
    9 Swann
    10 Anderson
    11 Onions

  • Comment number 77.

    Adam

    I totally agree with your England lineup.

    England need to win, to take the Ashes; Australia can draw or win to go home happy!

    To win, you need to take a few calculated risks; choose a few in form experienced additions. Ramps and Key. One off Test, different faces, new challenges for the Australian bowlers to work out. Not easy in one match, 2 innings.

    The continuity, conservative direction will not work at the Oval.

    Bell and Bopara are good players; England's future, but they have haven't added at this level, for this series. Time for more with the county.

    The Oval does tend to suit spinners that bounce (panesar) and pace quicks. Swann is a better all round package than Panesar; but on this wicket Panesar's record is excellent and suites his bowling. Difficult choice. Two spinners? Unlikely after Cardiff. Who can get you wickets?

    Otherwise, spot on with the choice.

  • Comment number 78.

    England has shown time and time again, that regardless of its batting line-up "on paper" they are more than capable of being bowled out for 150 (or less). England, with the exception of KP and Freddy, just do not have the mental game to compete with Australia. We need to play our best BOWLING side to stand any chance of getting 20 Aussie wickets and the Ashes.

  • Comment number 79.

    Quite simple really - England have to bat a total that beats Australia -current batting line-up at numbers 3, 4 & 5 is not working and the bowling attack is not operating as a unit. Problem is that replacements don't jump out from the counties with the exception of Robert Key being an obvious replacement for Bopara and I also think think that wholesale changes would be counter-productive; additionally, England can't play so badly for two matches on the trot can they?
    I am sceptical about Trescothick's availability and curious about Ramprakesh - if he is in the frame then why hasn't he figured in the last 7 years? On this basis I would bat Trott at 5 and drop Bell and put Collingwood up the order to 4.
    The bowling attack definates are Flintoff, Anderson and Swann with two bowlers from either Sidebottom, Onions, Harmison, Panasear.

  • Comment number 80.

    The issue with selection is that the selectors hacve to find the right balance between consistency and replacement of those who don't perform long term. Players should be given a decent run in the side but should not be immovible. We want neither the revolving door of the nineties nor the permanence of the current set up. Players should feel that if they are dropped their England career is not neccessarily over. I believe that this feeling can contribute to their hesitant and nervous batting. To take the example of Bopara, I am convinced that he will be an important player in the future, probably not at three, but he should have been dropped before the fourth test after six consecutive failures. Involvement in the series is doing him no good at all and he needs to go back to Essex to regain form and confidence. Key definitely deserves a go- he is a genuine number three and has vastly improved since he last played for England. I think Broad also needs to go back to county cricket to learn how to exert pressure by bowling consistent line and length and develop his batting so that he is a genuine all rounder and a replacement for Flintoff. He will be a big player for us in the future but he needs to hone his basic skills a bit first. Trescothick back would obviously be great but if he feels he can't cope that is his decision and he shouldn't be pressured to reverse it. I am undecided about Ramprakash but he can't be worse than Bell who very sadly seems unable to develop the grit to go with his considerable talent, a shame as he is a beautiful batsman. My oval team would be:

    Strauss
    Cook
    Key
    Ramprakash or Trott (I can't quite decide on this but we need someone new)
    Collingwood
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Swann
    Anderson
    Harmison
    Sidebottom or Onions (decide who is bowling better in the build up)

    Possibly not correct but I don't feel we can win the test with the side we have been putting out. This one may not succeed but I feel would give us a shout.

  • Comment number 81.

    Why are so many people going for Key and Ramps, both tried and failed. In addition their runs this season have been scored in Division 2 and there is beginning to be a gap between the two divisions.
    I cannot understand why Michael Carberry is being ignored, he's in form he's scored over 1000 runs and plenty of centuries. His conversion rate is good. Of course he plays for Hampshire so no chance then!

  • Comment number 82.

    Right here goes, I have a 'fantasy' XI which the selectors would never go for (but we can but dream) and a 'realistic' XI.

    'Fantasy' XI

    Trescothick
    Strauss
    Cook
    Ramprakash
    Key
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Swann
    Rashid
    Anderson
    Sidebottom

    'Realistic' XI

    Strauss
    Cook
    Key
    Bell
    Collingwood
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Anderson
    Onions

    I've got to say the Fantasy XI looks a lot better on paper than the Realistic XI but the selectors are never going to take that kind of risk - it's just not in their nature unfortunately.

  • Comment number 83.

    Actually clevermrs I think you'll find Hick had more chances than any England player being dropped and brought back seven or eight times.
    He also managed to play 70 odd Tests quite amazing given his technical faults.

  • Comment number 84.

    Jimmy Anderson cannot surely believe his luck. Why is no one is calling for his scalp? He averages 34 with the ball. Has never averaged below 30 in a series that wasn't either a one off game or against the Bangers.

    If it swings he sometimes takes wickets. It it doesn't swing he doesn't take wickets.

  • Comment number 85.

    This isn't a cup final, it's the last test in what has been a poor series of cricket. Neither team deserves to win the ashes, and a draw would probably be fair, as both teams have only proven capable of average cricket, with real quality coming only in very small flashes.

    Ramprakash? Mr. Bottler himself? At his age i doubt he could even see a 93 mph delivery. Key is also over the hill.
    On the one hand you, and many others, are saying be ruthless, chop out the out of form, less gutsy players, which is right, as England will not improve unless they do this, but then you ruin that with a bizarre short term view which means picking 3 players who should never (for differing reasons) come near an England dressing room again.
    Harmison over Onions or Sidebottom? Have you been watching Harmison bowl over the last 3 years? Or in the last test, where he was an embarressment? Panesar? Do you not remember Cardiff?
    If i were Trott and Carberry, Onions/Sidebottom i'd feel cheated out of a place in the team if the useless selectors went for old codgers whose time has been and gone. It's long overdue that England found some real competitors for such cricketing duels such as this. A "sporting romantic"? What exactly is that? I doubt Australia have heard of it - they, like England need to, is believe in hard cricket and getting in their faces. The only things Ramprakash, Key and Harmison could get stuck into is TV Dancing, Pies and International Retirement.

  • Comment number 86.

    merrycrossword - you are bang wrong. Yes Ramprakash averages over 100 this season in division 2 but over the last 4 season he averages over 90 and 3 of those were in division 1. The form he is in has not been isolated he has been a run machine for years in the County game and it does make me wonder what he has to do to have another shot with England. It can only be Ramps, he's the best English batsman available by a country mile, just see how his records stands up against the other contenders!

  • Comment number 87.

    Have we all forgotten about Adil Rashid? After 15 years of being tormented a certain Australian leggie should the revenge not start at the Oval?

  • Comment number 88.

    Bestgooner66@ No.75 Your argument that we should stick with Broad because his batting is improving is pitiful. We need five bowlers who can share 20 wickets. Broad will only take wickets if the Aussies pass 500 and start throwing the bat prior to a declaration. Your defence of Cook is even more lamentable:Cook (Works very well with Strauss and is a belter on flat pitches)
    Cook holds no fears for the Aussies. He never makes a big score against them, unless you count a solitary ton at Perth. Cook couldn't even cash in at Lords with a ton when the Aussies were dire. Cook is a big waste of space. Wake up folk and stop jumping on the bandwagons against Bopara and Bell. They are soft targets. An opener who doesn't make centuries is a complete liability.

  • Comment number 89.

    Why do so many people have a go at Collingwood? I think they have short memories. Who was the main reason we saved the 1st Test? I think you will find that it was the doughty, gritty northern fighter that batted for over five hours. He actually has a decent record against the Aussies including a double hundred in the 2006/07 series and is just the sort of character that we need to go toe to toe with the Aussies at The Oval.

    Bopara and Bell on the other hand are walking wickets for the Aussies. Bopara is not a number three and although he will come again (lower down the order), he needs to be taken out of the firing line for now. Bell, for all his talent, has a shocking record against the Aussies plus Mitchell Johnson has his number. Indeed, Bell has a weakness against quality left arm quicks like Johnson and Zaheer Khan - he was out for 1 to Sidebottom yesterday too.

    So, who to bring in? I'm not sure a debutant is the right way to go for such a big match, so Trott shouldn't play. If Trescothick is available, then he should be first choice. However, it seems from his column in the local West Country paper today that he is not. That means we should pick Rob Key - decent player, strong character and Mark Ramprakash - best batsman in the country along with Tres and KP. There's no reason why Ramps shouldn't stay in either if he does well.

    So my team to win The Ashes on the assumption that Tres is not available (winning the toss may help too...)

    1. Strauss
    2. Key (r/h and l/h combination)
    3. Cook (decent record at three)
    4. Ramps
    5. Colly
    6. Prior
    7. Flintoff
    8. Swann
    9. Harmison/Sidebottom (depending on the pitch)
    10. Anderson
    11. Onions

    Harsh on Broad, but he is not a match-winner yet. the two spinner option backfired badly in Cardiff and won't work at The Oval either.

  • Comment number 90.

    HarrytheHawk Key has to play ,you can not put Carberry in to a decisive Ashes decider for his debut but his time will no doubt come,he is fantastic player.
    I think Carberry will go on the next tour.

  • Comment number 91.

    Yeah I agree with Giant_Mint, I have never been convinced by Anderson, I would drop him and stick in two spinners ,swann & monty or if not a spinning wicket Swann& Sidebottom.

    It`s the usual cosy set up, where players like Anderson get chance after chance,Broad is another, but the biggest one has to be that waste of space Ian Bell ,how many chances can one over rated player get? he should never ever be selected again, he is not cut out for test cricket.
    Key has to play for me.

  • Comment number 92.

    I am glad that the majority of this chain is discussing bowlers rather than batsmen. Yes getting rid of Bopara and Bell (for this test) is an obvious move but the real issue is the bowling attack.

    We seem to have a whole bunch of possible bowlers who are in reasonable form and who have bowled well in some matches and badly in some others if only there was some way we could anaylse all of thier games and come up with a figure that indicated how well they play on average!

    Onions 25 (rounded down)(only five tests, but averaging 30 this series)
    Sidebottom 27 (rounded down)
    Harmisson 32 (rounded up)
    Flintoff 32 (rounded down)
    Anderson 34 (rounded down)
    Swann 34 (rounded down)
    Panasar 34 (rounded down)
    Broad 37 (rounded down)

    wildcard no idea of form - Hoggard 30

    Yes I know that you cannot simply go with the stats you need to consider other factors:

    Factors that may effect the average:
    Flintoff has often been played when unfit, and was played a lot before his prime
    Harmison (who btw played well in the last test - he should have been given Clarkes wicket)has often been played when clearly out of form

    The wicket: but we don't really know how this will play so you need to have a bit of variety

    Variety: see above plus certain batsman struggle with certain types of bowling.

    but if you look at the best four averages you have your variety - and if the wicket is likely to be good for spinners add Swann

    thus

    Flintoff
    Swann
    Harmisson
    Sidebottom
    Onions




  • Comment number 93.

    GiantMint; rob1969in:
    I don't believe I'm hearing this "if there's any swing". I'm so old that I even remember Boycott batting but what I don't remember is an English August that had 5 consecutive days with no cloud cover AND no humidity. It's almost certain that there will be swing at some stage and Jimmy is always the first one to find it and the best at using it. On top of that, his bowling has a Plan B and a Plan C. Monty has one stock ball which is why he has been so expensive the last couple of seasons. If Anderson isn't good enough, Monty certainly isn't.

  • Comment number 94.

    Bell & Bopara are now treated with disdain by the Australians and have to go. Ramprakash as a young man did have mental frailties, but seems to have a lot more personal confidence these days. Don't muck about with Rob Key, go for Trott and give them something to worry about. Harmison looks like a man going to the gallows every time he bowls, so bring in Sidebottom. Leave Jimmy alone! He is the only world class bowler we have now that Freddie cannot bowl the overs we'd all like to see. Collingwood has the knack of pulling out the stops just when needed, so he stays. A cameo appearance by Trescothick would be so welcome, and should hopefully not press the panic button of this thoroughly nice guy. My side would be:

    Strauss
    Trescothick
    Cook
    Ramprakash
    Collingwood
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Anderson
    Sidebottom

    My bet is that they only change Harmison, Bell gets a Ton (off the back of Strauss' 200) and England win!

  • Comment number 95.

    Ramprakash - home ground, full of confidence what have we got to lose?

    I think he has matured over the years & playing down the middle order there would not be too much pressure on him, unless we have another batting collapse, in which case it does not matter who we choose.

  • Comment number 96.

    Summary of the above comments;
    Hit The Panic Button

    Drop Strauss down the order , possibly drop cook, definitely drop Bopara, drop Bell, maybe drop collingwood, keep prior, BRING BACK FREDDY (Last Test) drop Harmison, drop Anderson, drop Broad, keep Swann, maybe drop Onions. maybe drop Harmison.
    Bring back stunning performers like Ramprakesh and Keys (they're great at the oval and in test matches against Aussie bowlers)and frog march Trescothick to The Oval against his protestations.
    Leave out any young talented up-and-commers - what if they fail???

    Matt Hayden performed out of his skin in the IPL a couple of months back
    so when the Aussies felt it was time to replace Philip Hughes - without having brought a replacement opening bat to the UK why on earth didnt they just run for Pensioners Club and drag Haydos out of retirement?

    maybe verdigreen has got it right - let's just pine for the good old days.

    Or maybe we could show a bit of bottle...

    If Flintoff returns that's a mandated change (hopefully the only change) to the bowling line-up. Either Harmison or Onions will make way unless Anderson or Broad are injured. Probably Harmison will go as he didnt do enough at Headingly to justify him leaping over any of the others.

    A change in the batting line up is warranted - either by reshuffling the batting line-up or more likely replacing Bopara.

    Two changes is a lot over the space of one test match - unless the series is already a foregone conclusion.
    If England are to look for a replacement batsman this far into the series I do hope they scour the counties for the best young prospect (preferably under 25) and put the future of English cricket first.

  • Comment number 97.

    I like ReddadT's comment about Rashid.

    He's currently 116 not out against Hants

    Won't happen though will it

  • Comment number 98.

    Why not bring in a real wicket keeper (Foster would be my choice) and promote Prior (who has been very good this series) to full time batsman. Drop Bopara and Bell for Key and Foster and your team becomes:

    Strauss
    Cook
    Key
    Collingwood
    Flitoff
    Prior
    Foster
    Broad
    Swann
    Anderson
    Onions

  • Comment number 99.

    I submit the following selection:

    GA Gooch
    G Boycott
    JM Brearley*
    DI Gower
    MW Gatting
    P Willey
    IT Botham
    RW Taylor†
    GR Dilley
    CM Old
    RGD Willis

    Why not, being as we are in the realms of cricketing fantasy? We're all so mad keen on getting Trescothick in, why not try for the winners of the legendary 3rd Test at Headingley in 1981? They've all retired too...

  • Comment number 100.

    Ramps might have fluffed it on the big stage back in the day, but (and I loathe saying this) I think a certain dance competition might have fixed his nerves problem.

    And all those considering a spinner, Adil Rashids just knocked a ton against Hampshire. Can Spin, and bat. Can Monty? No.

 

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