Ruthless Vaughan axes Harmison and Hoggard
Wellington - By dropping his two most senior bowlers, Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison, Michael Vaughan has certainly demonstrated his ruthless side.
This illustrates just how much he appreciates that his own position as captain is coming under pressure. He might have gone further and had a go at the batting line-up too, but this move will certainly send out a warning to those players who failed to come up to scratch in the first Test in Hamilton last week.
Vaughan called it the end of an era, and that suggests youngsters James Anderson and Stuart Broad will now get an extended run in the team.
Of the two elder statesmen, Harmison will find it the toughest to get back. For a start, he must really decide if he is prepared to devote the necessary time and effort to maintaining a career as an international sportsman.
The 29-year-old can happily cruise in for Durham for another five years, and never go away in the winter again.
If that is what he decides, then fine. But if he wants his England place back, it must be on the back of bowling more competitive overs than he has done for a very long time.
Hoggard is just two wickets away from taking 250, and stands at number six in England’s all-time list.
At 31, he is older than Harmison but still has time to return if he can rediscover the nip that was missing last week.
Again, preparation is an issue and he must also reflect on whether or not he could have done any more.
So what a responsibility now falls on Broad and Sidebottom. One down with two to play, England are in a mess, but at least they will bring ambition and youthful enthusiasm to a team that looked so flat. They will also inject some pace to the ground fielding.
The pitch in Wellington has more grass on it than Daniel Vettori would have wanted – and the groundsman might decide to take some off before play starts.
Otherwise the Kiwis will have to look at the balance of their team and opt for another seamer rather than Jeetan Patel’s off-spin.