Vaughan under pressure for successful series bid
So we will never know if, in the eyes of the selectors, Andrew Flintoff's ankle has recovered sufficiently for him to return to Test cricket. Having asked around, I reckon they would have given him more time at Lancashire had this aggravating - and completely unconnected - side strain not cropped up.
Dave Roberts, Flintoff's fitness coach, told me that ideally he wanted Flintoff to have another 100 overs under his belt before being recalled - and there is also the fact that he has hardly scored a run this season to consider.
So Freddie returns to the physio's couch for now, and England have named what ended the recent New Zealand tour as their strongest 12.
Matthew Hoggard returns, but Steve Harmison does not - no surprise there in that we all felt that Harmison's omission was always likely to be long term, while Hoggard was inexcusably short of match practice before the first Test of that tour.
Once he rediscovered his nip, Hoggard's reliability is something England badly need in only a four-man attack, and James Anderson was unable to provide that in the final Test of the series in Napier.
So, I fancy Hoggard to return at Anderson's expense, and there might well be some tinkering at the top of the order.
Until very recently, Michael Vaughan openly stated his preference for opening the batting. He said this when Andrew Strauss first appeared in the side, and Vaughan moved down to accommodate him.
In New Zealand we were rightly told that the Vaughan/Alastair Cook partnership was one of the few successes in Sri Lanka, and that it needed to be continued with.
Now, though, Vaughan has shifted his gaze to number three, and I reckon that is where he will bat on Thursday, with Strauss returning to open with Cook.
A right-hand/left-hand combination is much more preferable, and England were generally short of runs throughout the winter: a failing that must seriously be addressed not least by Vaughan himself, who scored just 123 runs in his six innings in New Zealand.
The knives are not yet being sharpened, but the captain can ill afford a poor series.