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England bowling lacks menace

Graham Gooch | 20:04 UK time, Sunday, 20 July 2008

The dismissal of Michael Vaughan late in the day was a crucial breakthrough for South Africa who, with still two full days left of this game, are hot favourites to take a 1-0 lead in this series.

Overall these are worrying times for England; their bowling shows a lack of penetration and menace. Stuart Broad and James Anderson can perhaps be excused for looking jaded after their efforts at Lord's, but while Andrew Flintoff and Monty Panesar tried hard, their failure to extract life from this Headingley pitch is a concern.

South Africa's bowling unit has shown more bite throughout this game and seems a lot more threatening.

Michael Vaughan hands the ball to Stuart Broad

As for the debutant Darren Pattinson, he looks a reasonable bowler with a decent action, but bowling at an average of 80 miles per hour, he does not look exceptional.

Was he really a better option than Steve Harmison, who I notice took another four wickets for Durham today, or local boy Matthew Hoggard or the likes of Simon Jones, Sajid Mahmood, Graham Onions and Liam Plunkett?

If Ryan Sidebottom is fit for the third Test at Edgbaston next week, then I suspect Pattinson could well join the "one Test wonder club" - just like Sidebottom's father, Arnie, who appeared in a match I played in back in 1985.

It was interesting to hear Nottinghamshire coach Mike Newell say during the lunch interval on Test Match Special that having picked Pattinson, the England selectors now have a duty to nurture him even if he does not feature in the next Test.

A lot has been said about England's bowling, but the real problem in this match was the team being bowled out for 203 in just two sessions on the opening day.

Whenever that happens a side is under massive pressure for the rest of the game and even if England bat well in their second innings and score say 350 or 400 they will almost certainly still lose the match

What the remaining England batsman need to do, in my opinion, is to be positive and not just try to survive. If they just hang around then I believe wickets are more likely to fall. Although conditions are of course different here in Leeds than they were at Lords last week, South Africa's batsman showed that matches can be saved from this sort of position.

Alastair Cook, who I know well of course with my Essex connection, is just the kind of batsman who can stick in and frustrate the South African attack and after not scoring a century for England since last December, he could do with reaching three figures here.

One other thought. I took part in a phone-in on Test Match Special during lunch today where one caller advocted the dropping of Michael Vaughan.

Although he failed again, I still believe he is worth his place in the side. It is true that his form has dipped since he gave up opening the batting but I still think he is the best man to be marshalling the troops for England and remember he scored an excellent century in the opening Test of this summer against New Zealand.

He does not look as composed at the crease as he used to and is not as aggressive a player, but I believe he is a better batsman when he opens the innings, plays positively and sets the tone by leading from the front. That is exactly what Graeme Smith did for South Africa at the start of their innings.


Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    The cloud over Michael Vaughan persists. The captain should be on the team sheet on merit, not simply because he's the captain. There are other players in the side more than capable of deciding who will bowl next and the field setting - the vast majority of which is decided pre match by intensive video analysis of the opposition. Difference is those other team mates are making a positive contribution with bat and/or ball. He needs to produce the goods with the bat next test or give way. He's out of form and needs to go away and work on it in the county circuit. Test level, particularly against SA, isn't the place to be crossing fingers and hoping it's going to improve next innings. Next innings isn't proving any better. A century against NZ in that first test of the summer doesn't merit an automatic place for the rest of the summer. NZ isn't the challenge that SA is.

  • Comment number 2.

    Judging by the performance over the last few days of test cricket (including Lords) he isn't actually doing a good job as Captain - so pray tell, what on earth is the point of Vaughan?!?! Plus, I hate his smug smile of self satisfaction when he's sitting on the balcony as others make runs, thus securing his position i.e. so long as England don't lose, he's safe. That won't be the case by 4.30pm tomorrow!

  • Comment number 3.

    Cricket England is a cozy little club which is much harder to join than it is to get turfed out.
    The comfort zone is quite luxurious.
    We have gone from the extreme of one poor game and you are out in the bad old days to the bad new days of we will wait until your form returns coz class is permanent.
    Both are tosh.
    Radical concept,but picking players on form might be worth considering.Hang on,that might not be very cozy.Silly me!

  • Comment number 4.

    Puir auld Vaughan ..... in 2005 he was the state of the art captain. Sadly in these mellowing days resting on his laurels he lacks the skills to take on the hugely evolved Ricky Ponting and his Australian machine.
    The best news for England is for us all to be able to see that MPV is well past his hungry prime, giving us a chance to find a fresh captain and no 3 bat that will not crumble in the Ashes challenge next year.
    In the 1970s and 1980s England captaincy was routinely refreshed as ever more skillful candidates in good form pressed their claims .
    It is a luxury that England cannot afford carrying a captain who cannot build an innings against world class bowlers on anything less than a docile pitch.
    Text book wise MPV sadly showed the world in the Caribbean one day fiasco most obviously with very poor handling use of power plays how out of touch he is these days with spontaneous improvised tactics needed to complement pre-match planning to win matches against top notch teams.
    I suspect that personal friendships compromise selections in the England set-up - the Aussies are all mates, but a mate out of form is given a rest, and a fresh in form mate is drafted to keep the team world class. The Aussies dont persist with out of form or even very inexperienced players in their national side, they dont carry anybody, so perhaps its England´s turn to stop carrying, and start playing winners.

  • Comment number 5.

    Simple solution for the batting really. Drop Vaughan to 5 and promote Bell to bat at 3. Either have Ambrose as keeper and bat him below Broad or drop him and give Foster or Read a chance contribute 30+ with no great expectations. Bowling pick a penetrative proven opening bowler before we knacker Freddie my choice Jones.

  • Comment number 6.

    England simply cannot afford to ditch a player who has scored 19 centuries and many of them in great style. Dump Cook, his time will come again but currently he is just a test level journey man. Vaughan to open with Shah in at 6. Pity England cannot find a keeper with the class of Gilly (no one can) or Sangakara to field 5 genuine bowlers.

    Also, ... we will find out at the conclusion of this test series whether Freedie is a spent force after all the operations. Perhaps sadly his future will only lie in the very lucurative but pantomine form of the game T20

  • Comment number 7.

    There is no point singling out individulals. The whole team is under question after two utterly abysmal performances, in particular Headingley where both batting and bowling have been disheartening in the extreme.

    Regarding the bowling selection: Fred is on the comeback trail, Broad is young, Pattinson is on debut. YET WE CHOSE ALL THREE!!! Panesar bowled tidily on a pitch unsuited for spinners. This only leaves Jimmy, he was unlucky but he can't take all 20 wickets for goodness sake. It is an absurd lineup to attack South Africa.

    We haven't got the batsmen to rely on scoring heavily so we need penetrative bowlers. There must be changes or Moores and Miller must go.

  • Comment number 8.

    This series will undoubtably see a high profile sacking of captain, selector, or coach. Such a pity as I genuinely believe that a well chosen, balanced England team would beat this Saffer side on home soil.

  • Comment number 9.

    The truth is Vaughan has not had a good series for years.

    Every series we have mumblings about his batting and then he scores one hundred during the series and it is then said "this will silence the doubters".

    He needs to be getting centuries regularly, not just to satisfy (clear-sighted) critics.

    If he can match the performances of say Prince, or Amla, then fine he earns his place. If not, then he should be ditched for somebody else.

  • Comment number 10.

    What a shambles when are england going to get a backbone and start performing when the pressure is on so far we have seen the saffers walk all over us from day 1 of this match england had difficult batting conditions day one but there were some poor shots and our bowlers seem to have come up against a wall with no answers-we finaly find a bowler that is capable of scoring runs but he doesnt take any wickets! We have to bring back jones or hoggy forget harmy-pattinson didnt perform any worse than anderson and took more wickets than freddie and broad! I think england need to bolster the batting and pick prior again it has to be hoggard jones freddie and anderson for the next test not a bad four some!

  • Comment number 11.

    Here we go again,utterly awful batting by England followed by poor bowling and backs to wall in the second innings.Who is this bunch of half wits who select our team?Quite frankly the team picks itself when certain players are fit but some of the selections lately are just crazy.Are the selectors really saying that Patterson is actually better than S.Jones or S.Harmison or that Ambrose is a better batter than G.Jones or J.Foster?Can we really afford to continue with players in the poorest of form?In Test cricket you pick the best team to win not the hangers on as seems to be the fashion now Fletcher is no longer the coach.In all fairness Peter Moores was a very poor choice as a Coach-when did he ever play Test Cricket?,club cricket is not the same.We need a Botham or Gooch to do the top job and some sensible selections or we may as well chuck it all away and just play 20-20-its what everyone wants anyway it seems.

  • Comment number 12.

    I agree with the posters esp. no's 1-4 who call for vaughan to be dropped.
    His technique is so suspect these days and he really does seem to have mentally 'quit' since the heady days of 2005, which was 3 long years and too many series ago. The recent grim struggles against NZ - when Eng played some of the most negative and one-dimensional cricket they have ever played - was when he should have quit in actuality.
    the cover drives are still nice to watch, but the footwork generally is not and he is simply taking up a place in the Eng line-up.
    As Boycott said, he wouldn't get a place in the Yorks team if all Yorks batsmen were fit.
    Those questioning his tactical nouse are also spot-on - and, being too proud to admit his problems with the one-day game, he chickened out by 'retiring' instead of going back to work on his game.
    Then surprise surprise he wants to play 20-20!
    Time for club England to wake up!

  • Comment number 13.

    A number of things have really struck me over the last week. The first is a technical issue with our batsmen. I know the Proteas have a pretty accomplished bowling line up, but what has impressed me about their batting is their ability to leave any ball which is not going on to hit the stumps. McKenzie, Prince, Amla, de Villiers... They all knew where their offstump is and consequently, don't play a rash shot to anything which isn't going on to hit. Contrast that with Bell, Cook, Vaughan, Strauss who slash at anything and inevitably are caught behind or in the slips. Our batting line-up could learn a lot from that.

    As for the selection, I think the bowling line-up stinks. Pattinson's record so far this season has been exemplary, but he's virtually untried and untested. I think it is right that he should have been considered, but utterly wrong that he was picked.

    Who would I have chosen? Well, a lot has been said of Flintoff's bowling, but lets all face facts and reality: he's never been the most penetrating bowler. He's always been tight and tidy so he goes for few runs. His average gets massaged because of that (although it is still over 32). But he has never taken 10 wickets in a match and only taken a five wicket haul twice. It was incredibly naive of anyone to think he was going to waltz straight back in the side and take a 5-for-not-many. His hostiltiy was certainly welcome - and I think it is right to bring him back for the control he brings and his awesome slip fielding - but he never has been a massive wicket taker and probably never will be.

    So in place of Pattinson, I would almost certainly have selected Simon Jones. Here are some statistics from the county championship so far this season:

    Tim Murtagh

    291.5 - 55 - 966 - 44 (3.31 rpo)
    Average = 21.95; SR = 39.80 balls; BBI = 7-95; 5wi = 2; 10wm = 1

    Simon Jones

    145.2 - 27 - 502 - 32 (3.45 rpo)
    Average = 15.69; SR = 27.25; BBI = 5-30; 5wi = 3; 10wm = 0

    Random fact: Only Saqlain Mushtaq and Darren Pattinson have three 5wi. Simon Jones is the only bowler in the 2nd division to have three 5wi so far this season.

    Steve Harmison

    295.4 - 74 - 896 - 40 (3.03 rpo)
    Average = 22.4; SR = 44.35 balls; BBI = 6-122; 5wi = 1; 10wm = 0

    Matthew Hoggard

    168.3 - 29 - 535 - 22 (3.18 rpo)
    Average = 24.32; SR = 45.95; BBI = 6-57; 5wi = 1; 10wm = 0

    Chris Tremlett

    219.1 - 51 - 592 - 18 (2.70 rpo)
    Average = 32.89; SR = 73.06; BBI = 5-67; 5wi = 1; 10wm = 0

    Tim Murtagh (rfm) is the form bowler in the county championship at the minute. But Simon Jones has been a revelation for Worcestershire. His average is fantastic but his strike rate is phenomenal. He swings the ball both ways, both conventionally and reverse with the older ball, his fielding is pretty good and averages a very handy 15.76 in tests. Jones is a proper strike bowler and a real genuine wicket taker with both the new and older ball. He must be selected for the next match.


    As for the wicket keeping position, in my view it is a two horse race, which doesn't include Jamie Foster.

    Player Matches Innings NO Runs HS Average 100 50 ct st

    Geraint Jones 9 15 3 348 53* 29.00 0 2 36 2
    Chris Read 8 12 1 455 142 41.36 1 3 30 1
    James Foster 7 12 2 346 88 34.60 0 2 29 0
    Philip Mustard 8 14 1 324 92 24.92 0 3 36 1
    Matthew Prior 9 13 1 679 133* 56.58 3 4 24 0

    Geraint Jones is the form wicketkeeper with the most dismissals so far this season, but his batting really lets him down. Phil Mustard is next in terms of dismissals, but suffers even more the bat than Jones does. Foster has been a steady workhorse, but his lack of big innings is a little concerning. That leaves Read and Prior. Prior has been a veritable run machine this season, but Read is possibly the better glove man. Given the current state of England's batting, I would then probably plump for Prior and pray he doesn't drop anything (or if he does, he scores a big hundred).

    OK, now, as for Vaughan, I would definitely keep him in the side. He is still a skilled captain, but probably doesn't have the side he would like. He has no real go-to bowlers like he did in the Ashes, and the wickets he has been given so far this series have been fairly lifeless. To me, it looks like he's a little distracted when batting. What I keep thinking back to though was his purple patch in 2003. I remember his bat was peppered with green spots, which a TV commentator said was the result of the bowling machine Vaughan used extensively. The balls fired from the machine would leave a green lacquer behind on the bat. Since then, I've not seen these same green splodges on his bat, so I don't know if Vaughan still uses the machine. If he doesn't, it might be worthile him spending many an hour in front of it!

  • Comment number 14.

    With regards to my last post, I meant to say that Simon Jones averages 15.76 with the BAT in tests.

  • Comment number 15.

    On an unrelated topic, where was Aggers today?? Someone must surely have mentioned his absence, but I didn't hear it.

  • Comment number 16.

    Another day another scapegoat I see? At least the heat will be off Pattinson and Vaughan tomorrow as Im sure it will be the turn of Ambrose to become the scapegoat for Day 4.

  • Comment number 17.

    hypothetically, if Vaughan was dropped, who would you make the captain?

    Many people would say Strauss, but I feel the man has enough on his plate currently with regaining his form.

    Collngwood, the out of form one day captain, would also be another top choice but he currently has been (unfairly) dropped.

    Flintoff- just coming backfrom injury and failed miserably in Australia when captain

    Pietersen? My vote for ODI captain but I don't think he is quite ready for test captaincy

    So, without Vaughan... who does that leave you with. The above (bell, cook aswell)

    What do you think?

  • Comment number 18.

    For pty4tt1,

    We cant just do away with Broad, your suggestion of a four-man pace attack including fred, anderson, jones and hoggy with monty as well leaves with a very long tail. Broad needs to be perservered with, I know he's not Brett Lee pace, but the Aussies continued with him when he was young and that gamble certainly paid off!!

    With Broad and Flintoff in a five-man attack, we need to pick wicket-takers to complement their accuracy and consistentcy. Anderson does seem to be doing the job for now, but Pattinson is not the way forward. Even Tremlett would have been a better choice than bowling an 80mph swing bowler. Sidebottom was rested because his sore back restricted him to only 81-82mph!!

    The wicket-keeper position is another dilemma. Ambrose has shown promise, but with a five-man attack, our gloveman has to able to bat 6 or score very consistently at number 7 to cover freddie. Jone did well for a while, but Foster and Prior are both knocking on the door very hard this season and more low scores from Timmy will make it very hard to ignore them.

    In regards to the Vaughan/Moores situation, I think Vaughan will certainly need to find some form soon, his captaincy is not in question, but you can not carry a batsman when we can only pick five-specialists in those positions. As for Moores, well I just don't think he has what it takes to lead his country. He is like the 'Steve McClaren of cricket', good levels of success at club level but never quite cut it at the highest level. Its a shame to see all the good work that lead to the ashes victory in 2005 being undone slowly by weak tactical ploys and bizarre selection policies!!

  • Comment number 19.

    Has the captain ever been dropped mid-series before?

    As long as he's part of the selection process it's not going to happen.

    Don't know who should take over ,but Vaughan aint gettin it done!

  • Comment number 20.

    #15: Aggers was away because of a 'family illness' apparently - only got mentioned near the end of play by Blowers.

  • Comment number 21.

    #19- against the West Indies in 1988 we had four captains I think in the one series - for a variety of reasons!

  • Comment number 22.

    I don't think you can lay to much blame at the feet of the bowlers. They are the main reason why we have had the last few series victories. Bowling for two days on a pudding at Lords and then realising that Headingly isn't as bad a strip as our batsmen made out must be a little dispiriting. Jimmy Anderson has shown much more control over the past 12 months and he and Sidebottom should be automatic selections. Flintoff will get there but I do worry about Broad and his lack of variations outside the short ball. And as for Pattinson that is most ridiculous selection for 20 years and Geoff Miller should rightly be berated for this.
    However, in my opinion, the batting is a major concern. Strauss seems to have gone back to his wafty, off-balance technique and Cook isn't giving the middle order any confidence either. Yes, Bell's innings at Lords was good but he needs to back it up when the chips are down and he really needs to show his mettle in the 2nd innings rather than getting out when set as he too often does.
    But time is ticking for Vaughan. He doesn't seem to be playing back or forward and is getting caught on the crease too often. His captaincy is good and inventive but, in this day and age, can we really afford a Mike Brearley type captain when the rest of the batting isn't firing?
    If we get a thumping in this test series, which I fear will happen, then his position will surely come under scrutiny.

  • Comment number 23.

    Vaughn is still a brilliant player, but i think it's pretty obvious that since he came back from injury he never quite found about 10% of his sharpness at the crease and in the field. he looks tired now.

    this team wants a new voice.

    GIVE SHAH A SERIES AT 3 PLEASE SELECTORS!
    ASK STRAUSS TO BE CAPTAIN PLEASE SELECTORS!
    AND TELL PIETERSON TO BOWL MORE, GET A DECENT ARM-BALL AND BECOME AN ALL-ROUNDER PLEASE SELECTORS!


  • Comment number 24.

    So, England stare down the barrel of an embarrassing defeat. Something I must agree we are completely to blame for.
    From the off, the inclusion of Pattinson appeared to ruffle a few feathers around the England ranks.
    As far as Pattinson himself goes I believe he bowled well, be it at a slow pace for an opening bowler. Blame for the whole debacle must go to the selectors. As mentioned so many times before what must Jones, Harmison, Hoggard, Tremlett all be thinking.
    The only excuse I can muster for the selectors is that they are too keen on keeping their record breaking eleven together. An eleven who personally i believe could be improved on anyway!
    The problem for me at the moment is we are carrying too many passengers, to be the best everyone must be on board and firing, not just making up the numbers. Broad, Vaughan, Strauss, Ambrose and Pattinson in this side all could be improved upon.
    Would i therefore drop Vaughan, no...
    As often as it is said, his captaincy is priceless so therefore he cannot be dropped, even if his batting stinks.
    My proposed solution would be to move him down the order to 6 or even 7.
    Batting at 3 in the order you need someone who can last, play an anchor role, steady the ship and make a big score, right now Vaughan cannot do any of those. As soon as he comes in, its a mater of time..
    Therefore Ian Bell would come into 3 for me, Keep KP at 4, Collingwood at 5. Vaughan 6, Flintoff 7, Ambrose 8, Sidebottom/Harmison 9, Anderson/Jones 10, Panesar 11.
    Broad for me needs to do what Anderson did effectively and spend a couple of years learning his trade on the county circuit, while his batting is great, the return of Flintoff means we no longer really need him for his batting alone.
    As a final point, I need to say, what has happened to Monty? He has gone from star spinner to average spinner over night, his lengths are never good enough, either too full (usually) or too short, he needs to sort it out and stop bowling too quick as well.

  • Comment number 25.

    This may be a bit extreme but I think the Test team needs to start from scratch again, and I think we will see that at the end of this series. New captain, new wicket-keeper who will be confided in and stuck with, couple of new faces in the batting line-up and a re-shuffle in the bowling. Possibly even a new coach - I'm not entirely convinced by what Peter Moores has done.

    I just think this team doesn't have much character at the moment. There's obviously a few really good players in there but it just doesn't seem to go anywhere.

  • Comment number 26.

    At this stage of the match, it is still anyone's game. True, South Africa are HOT favourites and it is looking increasingly likely that in the next 48 hours, they will take a 1-0 lead in this series.

    That said, it is also important to remember that England still have a few more batters in the ranks. The reason why Jimmy Anderson was introduced into the game was to protect the two key batsmen, who are Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell, both of whom have shown signs in recent weeks of fantastic form.

    For KP, this will be a different challenge to that posed in the 1st test. The SA team now know what he can do, how he goes about his game, and most of all, where he is likely to hit the ball. They will be planning how to net trap him from the very first ball and the same goes for Ian Bell.

  • Comment number 27.

    sorry Mr Gooch, but you're talking rubbish, Michael Vaughan hasn't looked a test match batsman since 2003/2004. And number 3 should be the best batsman in the team, i think Owais Shah deserves his chance, or even prior purely as a batsman if his keeping isn't uyp to it after being among the best in the county cricket.

    Also Vaughans captaincy has been ordinary, Strauss would be just as good a captain.

    AND playing their natural game may get us 350 in one day, at the best, it won't get us 400 in 2 days which is what we need to save this test. If they're Test match players they need to be able to adapt their game to the situation so that we actually get a draw.

  • Comment number 28.

    There's no doubt that Ryan Sidebottom brings a lot to the England side; even when he's not taking wickets, he generally injects some discipline to the proceedings that the other bowlers respond to. It would have been interesting if he had been in the side and England had won the toss. I don't believe that extra miles-an-hour are the answer against South Africa: on their last tour, it was Martin Bicknell and James Kirtley that exposed flaws in their game. I do believe the biggest sin committed by the England selectors has been the continued omission of Chris Tremlett. He should have been given Broad's run in the side because with his height, bounce and movement, he's potentially another Vince van der Bijl - so he needs to get established, feel comfortable and start bowling well in an England shirt.
    As regard Vaughan, I agree: he's a quality player: but he does need to find some way of countering Dale Steyn, or Steyn could become his bogeyman.

  • Comment number 29.

    At the end of day three at Lords, South Africa were 333 runs behind England. At the end of day three here at Headingley, England are 269 runs behind.

    South Africa's captain, Graeme Smith, scored a stubborn 107, leading by example as he set the tone for his team's brilliant resistance. South Africa's top three batsmen scored, between them, 349 runs, with Amla not out.

    England's captain, Michael Vaughan, scored an erratic 21, leading by example as he set the tone for his team's pathetic collapse (my prediction). England's top three batsmen scored, between them, 44 runs, with Cook not out.

    If my calculations are correct, Vaughan has only scored one century in his last sixteen innings, and that came after both openers had scored half-centuries. It's all well and good scoring the occasional century, but what about scoring one when your team desperately needs one? For me, it is one of the captain's primary responsibilities to score heavily and bat for hours when the team is in trouble - in other words, to really take some responsibility. Vaughan just doesn't do that, and that is why I have been criticising him for such a long period of time, even when he did hit that one century in sixteen.

    Vaughan's first five centuries came in the space of 12 matches. His second five came in 14. Since then, he has scored only three in 21. He has been getting progressively worse since 2003, I think - and before someone mentions the 2005 Ashes, it is worth mentioning that he only scored one century in his ten innings in that series.

    Yes, he has been our most successful captain ever, in terms of pure win ratio, but I often wonder if that has been in spite of him, not because of him. If it is only his fielding captaincy that keeps him in the side (questionable - England haven't exactly bowled/fielded well in this series so far), then can't he just do that from the balcony, while making way for a talented batsman to actually score some runs when they are needed?

    It is no wonder so many are calling for him to be dropped. Including myself.

  • Comment number 30.

    A slight correction to my previous post. The third paragraph should read:

    Vaughan's first five centuries came in the space of 12 matches. His second five came in 14. His third five came in the space of 16. Since then, he has scored only three in 21. He has been getting progressively worse since 2003, I think - and before someone mentions the 2005 Ashes, it is worth mentioning that he only scored one century in his ten innings in that series.

  • Comment number 31.

    And if I may now correct my correction, I meant to say that it was the fifth paragraph that needed changing, not the third! Whoops... :)

  • Comment number 32.

    Michael Vaughan's situation reminds me of the one faced by Steve Waugh before his retirement. Waugh's batting had dropped off considerably but he was still able to scratch around for the odd century. As a captain, he was always the master tactician. The public still called for an end to his career, proving that not even a true legend of the game can be excused.

    Vaughan should know the time is near and do the honourable thing at the end of the series. There are always adequate replacements in the side.

    And the public should conitnue to apply pressure on Vaughan, because the standards expected of English cricket should be no different to that of Australia.



  • Comment number 33.

    Am I the only person to think that England's current problems are not nearly as bad as some would lead you to believe? It seems in some cases that memory extends no further than the previous day's play, and some of the knee-jerk calls for players to be dropped (Vaughan? Cook?) are laughable.

    So, in the spirit of contradiction, here are some positives:

    - Pietersen is arriving in the ranks of World's Best Batsmen. Apart from the usual suspects (Ponting, Tendulkar, Yousuf, Chanderpaul), only Sangakkarar is a better batsman and the only the other one with so many years ahead.
    - Bell looks like delivering on his own massive potential. 8000 Test runs beckon...
    - Stuart Broad has the ability, temperament, and technique to nail down England No. 8 spot for nigh on a decade to come.
    - Flintoff managed to bowl 40 reasonably fiery, parsimonious over without his ankle exploding, torso detaching from his legs, getting leathered in the slip cordon, or any other calamity befalling him. Now if he could remember how to bat...
    - Strauss is in good touch and Cook, despite not producing the big scores of which he is capable, is a class act without any doubt and with loads of time on his side.
    - Simon Jones, it would seem, is slowly making his way back into the side. Along with Anderson, by far England's most improved player this year, with Flintoff going hell-for-leather, and the discovery of Sidebottom (seemingly forgotten by some in the gaping space of, oh, three day's play0 England's bowling attack could (COULD!) be generally threatening come this time next year.

    So now the problems:

    - Without contradicting what I've just said, England's openers don't have the right balance. How much better would Cook's inclusion seem if he was coupled with a more aggressive partner (Trescothick). Same goes for Strauss, and while we're on the subject two left-handed openers isn't ideal either.
    - Panesar. He seems to have stalled somewhere and lacks not only the guile to lure batsmen, break partnerships, or maintain pressure from one end in any way other than being economical, but also the dynamism to participate in setting his own fields, hence taking responsibility for his bowling. Maybe he's not being handled correctly, maybe he's shy of confidence, either way I can't help feeling that he could do even more.
    - Not wanting to seem too sunnily dispositioned about the whole thing, I will concede that Ambrose is gash. Not only not the best wicketkeeper available, apart from the cut he is horribly one-dimensional, and frankly too bald. The lack of credible competition (Read too lily-livered, Prior all mouth and no trousers and too bald as well) is a genuine concern, particularly with Flintoff seemingly destined to bat at No. 7.
    - England's inability to handle a SQUAD of players able to cover for one another in the event of injury, drastic loss of form or the demands of differing conditions. This seems the biggest problem of them all, others requiring just time to sort out. Teams like Australia (alright, only Australia, but why not aspire to the best?) breed players capable of stepping up to Test level with as little disruption as possible because of the level of competition and the quality of their first-class cricket, and above all perhaps the way they clearly have certain players in mind for future Test roles who they stick with. England have completed failed to do that - the road to Test grounds is littered with confidence-shattered wrecks who were cast off in the last few years, in bowling above all: Plunkett, Mahmood, Pattinson (who should never have been there in the first place, if only because if you're going to stick a player in for one match only, you might as well make him a character in the great English tradition of bonkers cameos), Tremlett, now Hoggard and Harmison. All bar Pattinson should be kept close to the Test set-up, most could still do a job or do one in the future.

    The margin between victory and defeat is so small and the gap in quality between South Africa, with its stodgily settled batting line-up and buoyant fast bowlers, and England, is not nearly as large as people seem to think. England are certainly promising and hopefully nearly in a position to challenge all the world's best teams. They just need to sort out the problems I've described. Or, of course, they can drop half their team, sack the coach, put on hair shirts, crawl on hot ashes at the feet of the Paying Customer in the throes of Public Outrage, and see where it gets them come the Ashes in 2009.

  • Comment number 34.

    Oh yes, and one more thing. When you are playing a home series, it might be a good idea to produce wickets that favour your own qualities as much as possible while doing what can be done to disturb, disrupt and challenge the opposition. It might also be a good idea to play in your favoured grounds where you receive the best support and where the atmosphere and aesthetics (in terms of both the game itself and its adornments, cricket is the aesthetes' sport above all others) capture the imaginations of the players and viewers. In other words, don't play an Ashes Test in Cardiff because Old Trafford, one of the country's best grounds, doesn't have the dosh to cough up for the privilege itself. No use mithering about dwindling support for Test cricket if you are hell-bent on taking away the things that make it uniquely enjoyable, compelling and inspiring to watch: taking it off terrestrial telly, playing it in uninspired grounds, preparing dull pitches (which as Ricky Ponting says is perhaps the greatest problem facing Test cricket at the moment), and prostituting the England team around to passing billionaires (at least you couldn't say that they sell themselves cheap) while then having the audacity to promote the ensuing matches as anything other than private exhibitions for the enjoyment/edification/whatever of the person rich enough to pay for it (notice too how nobody calls the putative West Indies team the same name twice: Allen Stanford West Indies All-Star Select Whizz-Bang XI, anyone?)

  • Comment number 35.

    19 : Dropped captains mid-series : In 1966 home series against the West Indies, first MJK Smith and then Colin Cowdrey were dropped as captain. With the series at 0-3 Brian Close was appointed for the 5th Test and won by an innings.

    But that Yorkshireman had rather more mettle and imagination than the present one ...

  • Comment number 36.

    The present England team ,ever since Peter Moores took over, have a psychological flaw and imbalance bred of lack of confidence in selection,management,the press and individual appraisal.The need for strong individuality should not be subdued in the cause of team unity.The Austalians demonstrate this in spades.

    Too much money has brought amongst players and staff the dual spectres of self interest and plausibility.

    Fred Trueman would have had a ball sorting this lot out.

    Shah has more technique and application than most - someone should make Pietersen bowl off one extra pace compared with present action (he is not Chris Gayle)in the nets for a long time each day under the eye of a really good bowling coach(do we have one?)Panesar needs NOT to feel that he is the only one who should bowl below eighty mph.KP can be a world class offer!
    Don't complain about Broad taking few wickets -he has been taught technique for both batting and bowling -and because he is very talented,a good manager would spend a lot of time getting him fired up - and if he won't do that find someone who will.

    Most of our England bowlers talk and smile too much.We should be ashamed of our wicketkeeping dilemmas -it has always been a position subject to the most competition - not difficult -we need a brave batter who can catch!!!

    The captain is at the root of the mind problems -when no3 folds every game the team gets early and serious setbacks.

    Collingwood has more demonstrable courage,a good cricket brain and is an all round player of real class.Oh yes ,and he can field rather better than the present captain.

    I don't feel that the mind set of the current team can fight through the next two days -let alone lack of technique.

    Time for fundamental change NOW before the next Test.Selectors,Manager,Captain and at least five current players should go and opportunities be given for the new selectors and the new captain to pick THE BEST PLAYERS AVAILABLE and then use the new manager's experience of REAL TEST CRICKET to count in team motivation and determination

    Such change is not panic -just very seriuosly overdue!!

  • Comment number 37.

    Vaughan certainly doesn't deserve his place on his recent batting form.

    Vaughan's last 15 innings in size order

    1.106 vs NZE (7)
    2. 63 vs NZE (13)
    3. 48 vs NZE (5)
    4. 32 vs NZE (11)
    5. 30 vs NZE (6)
    6. 24 vs SRI (14)
    7. 21 vs SAF (1)
    8. 16 vs NZE (4)
    9. 13 vs NZE (10)
    10. 9 vs NZE (12)
    11. 4 vs NZE (8)
    12. 2 vs NZE (9)
    13. 2 vs SAF (3)
    14. 1 vs SRI (15)
    15. 0 vs SAF (2)

    Numbers in brackets is the order ie 1 is most recent, 15 is oldest. That little lot comes to an average of 24.73 and his combined average as captain :-

    As captain : 3153 runs @ 36.66
    vs Top Seven : 1955 runs @ 30.55
    vs WIN/BAN : 1198 runs @ 54.45

    Barely "kneejerk" dropping, that would involve dropping someone for a few bad scores, not a run of 15 Tests at an average of under 25. If he weren't captain he'd have been dropped, he looks badly out of touch and England can't have too many players learning their trade or finding their form in a Test series - especially now we're down to just five batsmen.

    In terms of wins, assuming this ends in defeat as looks likely, his 50 Test record would/will look like :-

    As captain : P50 W26 D14 L10
    vs Top Seven : P35 W12 D13 L10
    vs WIN/BAN : P15 W14 D1 L0

    Compare that record against the better sides against other captains and you wonder what the fuss is about, at least those who are open to the possibility Vaughan isn't god.

    30+ Tests as captain

    Brearley : P31 W18 D9 L4 (Won 58.06%)
    May : P41 W20 D11 L10 (Won 48.78%)
    Illingworth : P31 W12 D14 L5 (Won 38.71%)
    Hussain : P45 W17 D13 L15 (Won 37.78%)
    Vaughan : P35 W12 D13 L10 (Won 34.29%)
    Dexter : P30 W9 D14 L7 (Won 30.00%)
    Gooch : P34 W10 D12 L12 (Won 29.41%)
    Atherton : P54 W13 D20 L21 (Won 24.07%)
    Gower : P32 W5 D9 L18 (Won 15.63%)

    Take away Vaughan's easy wins and he's joe average captain. He's arguably had better players to work with than some of his predecessors. You wonder if a different captain would have such trouble beating Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan in Tests. Vaughan hasn't won one yet, Strauss has (Pakistan) and Flintoff (Sri Lanka and India)

  • Comment number 38.

    As for the bowling "lacking menace", you could equally say it lacked experience and sensible selection. Broad and Pattinson came into the Test with seven caps and 18 wickets between them. Is it any wonder England struggled with such inexperience? Broad should have been dropped a few Tests ago, he needs more time to work on his game. At the moment he's just conceding runs with little wicket threat and no luck to help him out. His inclusion or exclusion should not hinge on his batting.

    And depending on the rest of this Test, the following players' places have to be up for review :-

    Vaughan - poor trot with the bat
    Ambrose - poor trot with the bat
    Broad - not enough wickets
    Pattinson - doesn't look Test class

    That's quite a few considering three were part of the six consecutive unchanged XIs, albeit they were played mostly against much easier opponents to play

  • Comment number 39.

    Protea's fans tempted to rub MV nose in it are content that the SMITH vs VAUGHAN debate is panning out in South Africa's favour. I'm a huge Graeme Smith fan and have cop'ed a lot of flak for it ... MV needs to 'walk through the desert with a horse with no name' to come back on (or near) a level footing with Smith - you don't toughen up in the land of milk and honey - MV seems to have gone soft ... let him go 'walkabout' and return a tempered man ... at the minute... its ALL Smith ! (I hate to say, I told you so - but I TOLD YOU SO !)

  • Comment number 40.

    It's interesting to read all these comments.
    Some bloggers want Simon Jones back. So do I! But I believe that he needs a full season of county cricket first. Steve Rhodes is really looking after him at Worcestershire.
    You got to keep Monty in the side. Any other spinners out there. Graeme Swann?
    It's too soon for Rashid. Besides look at the way England have handled their leg spinners in the past! Salisbury? Schofield?
    I agree that either Tremlett, Hoggard or Harmison should have been picked ahead of Pattinson. As Tremlett had been picked consistently as 12th man, he should have been in. Lord knows how he must be feeling. Ironically, I think he would have suited the pitch at Headingley. Harmison definitely would have! Look at Morkel.

    So who could be captain instead of Vaughan? Strauss? Robert Key? I have heard that Key's captaincy is very good, he has good reputation on the county circuit.

  • Comment number 41.

    Contrary to poster #40, I'm not vaguely interested in reading all these comments. This time last week, South Africa were 100 runs behind after following on, and we were looking to dismiss them – albeit on a dead pitch – to score a substantial victory.

    A week later, mainly because of the loss of a toss, everyone's screaming for wholesale changes to the team. It's ludicrous. The media don't help, of course - but for crying out loud... It's a game. Sometimes things go one way, other times they go the other. At the end of the New Zealand series, Vaughan was second in the England batting averages. Today you're screaming for his head. Bell, meanwhile, was averaging 15 - FIFTEEN in that series, but now he's golden boy.

    Can we get a little perspective, and stop raging into our cornflakes? Man alive.

  • Comment number 42.

    'The Darkness is Calling': great posts there. Really well-researched and written, you put things in a new perspective. You have made me feel even more justified in my earlier criticism of Vaughan.

    'Tufnell_fanclub': The captaincy should be given to someone who is an established member of the side, a good fielder, in form and who has demonstrated a decent amount of creativity and intelligence on the pitch.

    The player in the best form at the moment is Pietersen, but would the added responsibility take away from his natural game? The selectors seem to think that it would not, as they made him stand-in captain for the ODIs. I don't see the harm in giving him a try - if it doesn't work out, someone else can take over, or Vaughan can even come back (unless he "retires").

    Cook and Strauss aren't in brilliant form, but could be in contention, as would Collingwood be if he were in any sort of form and back in the side. As for the bowlers... Anderson is in great form, is a great fielder, has established himself in the side - but I'm not sure if he is seen as a leader within the side.

    I think Vaughan should remain captain until the end of this series - he's got up to six more innings to find form, and when I say form, I mean at least two centuries and no scores under 40, not just one century which will buy him more time. After this series finishes, we've got a long break before the Test action resumes, in which time all the options need to be weighed up and some difficult decisions made.

    Nobody should be undroppable, including the captain.

  • Comment number 43.

    And 'freefrench', I think you'll find that many of us have been questioning Vaughan's place in the side for a long, long time, not just because he lost the toss.

  • Comment number 44.

    yes, definitely time for vaughan to go. to be honest, he has been living on borrowed time for a while. at his best he was a stylish batsman but that was a long time ago. he hasn't looked at his best since that last serious knee injury. please don't get me wrong, mv has done a job at times in the past but i have never thought he was a good captain when things are not going well (and let's be fair, ANYONE can captain when your batsman are scoring 600 and your bowlers are taking 20 wickets a game) so, sorry but bye bye vaughan. as for who takes his place... that's trickier. i wouldn't have pietersen personally but i suppose he would come into the reckoning. back to strauss? well maybe, but he has to make a few more runs consistently too. flintoff? always thought he was better when he WASN'T captain. collingwood is out of the team... cook? maybe his form would suffer. bell isn't yet certain of a place, so...

    anyone know what mike brearley is doing at the moment? (showing my age now)

    seriously though, vaughan is becoming a liability and with the ashes only 18 months away, we can't afford to be changing skippers in the lead-up to that tour. (remember the strauss/flintoff debacle last time in oz?)

    the selectors have to grasp the nettle for once, and make a decision for the medium/long term. they got us into this mess in this game, after all... ambrose batting at 6? pattinson plucked from obscurity? broad clearly carrying a knock... need i go on.

    it's a sad state of affairs, but england are really up against it at the moment. the nz series seems a distant memory!!!

    as for who can take vaughan's place in the batting, i can't think much beyond the 'fringe' players: bopara, shah, bresnan, and i still think collingwood may come back. foster (better these days as a glove-man) or mustard (discarded too quickly) for wicket-keeper, and i would move bell up to 3, and have mv's replacement at 5.

    a bit predictable, i grant you, but i suppose there is still time (just) for a batsman to 'emerge' before the next test. maybe there is an unknown 33-year-old somewhere who is about to be springboarded into the team a la pattinson.

    hmmmm...

  • Comment number 45.

    I am not sure I agree with the calls for Vaughan being dropped. I totally see the point that everyone is making here: a series of poor scores, nobody including the captain is indispensible, a captain should be in the side on merit, he should self-select himself for every test unless injured, he should be the first name on the team sheet, he should lead from the front, he has squandered a strong position at Lords and finds his team at the receiving end of such a position in the second test. Many more such arguments.

    However, I would like to look at the big picture here. The best of England successes since Hussain's reign was over has come from building a team around a core set of players. A strong pace attack of Harmy, Hoggy, Jones and Flintoff. A very questionable selection of Giles, but worked since the pace quartet took the load off him. (In fact England is better now with Panesar). A good looking batting lineup with Strauss firing, Vaughan, Bell, Pietersen and Colly chipping in.

    Somewhere along the line, England has lost faith with the core set of people. Yes, the bowlers mifired, Jones has been on a long layoff. The batsmen are not finding their groove. Instead of building on the fundamentals and successes, the selectors have had a very short-term view of chopping and changing the side. The result is that some very mediocre players have been given the England shirt, and have not even been given a consistent run in the side. At least with Moores I liked that he stuck with one side for 6 games, but that has not been the case for a while now. If they further chop and change the side now, it will be a huge loss for English cricket which will take several years of rebuilding. It is further complicated by the fact that with T20 and the leagues springing all over the place, they will never find enough time and people to build a solid test team.

    My take: stick with the truly world class players you have. At the risk of sounding cliched, form is temporary, class is... Develop a team around the world class players and bring up the others to the quality that is expected of international class. Dropping a captain has been done before, Ganguly and Dravid have been unceremoniously relegated from India, but they have an immense talent pool to draw from. Well Vaughan has to get his act together, but giving him the confidence and support is required, and not dropping the last few truly gifted players in the squad.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think one must be realistic, the selectors have boxed themselves into a corner with central contracts. To drop the captain and others not up to test match standard would mean the selectors would have to admit they got it seriously wrong, they just will not do it.

    Again who in the media is calling for Vaughans head, no one, because they all P in the same pot. Gooch is a prime example:

    "Although he failed again, I still believe he is worth his place in the side." Why have known failures in the team and captain at that. Where is the logic in saying he's not able to handle a fast attack at number 3 so let him open the bowling

    " still think he is the best man to be marshalling the troops for England" The best way to marshall the troops is to lead by example, so when was the last time he did that? was it not five years ago

    "and remember he scored an excellent century in the opening Test of this summer against New Zealand" So one test century a summer (against a second class team) is good enough to be in the Test team, I think not.

    "while Andrew Flintoff and Monty Panesar tried hard, their failure to extract life from this Headingley pitch is a concern" so Flintoff is not the saviour of England that the media would have us poor fans believe. Just a quick look at his record show far to few 5 wicket games

  • Comment number 47.

    Has anyone realised that this series is a carbon copy of the India series last year were we should have won at Lord's. Then at Trent Bridge we had a shocker of a first innings, toiled in the field for 2 days and batted enough to get a lead of 70-odd in the 2nd with the Indians having a little wobble in achieving their target.

    Selection wise I think Vaughan should stay on the basis that there is no one ready to take over as skip. If Colly was in any kind of form then he would be the favourite. I think Broad should have a rest and go back to Notts and feel what it's like to be taking big wickets again. His batting capabilites shouldn't mask his bowling responsibilities and at this stage of his career he isn't a good enough bowler. Pattinson was a gamble that didn't pay off - simple as.

    In place of Broad I'd play Sidebottom, if fit if not Tremlett and Jones in place of Pattinson.

    With Broad out of the team, the batting looks a little frail so I'd bring Prior back at 6 by all accounts his keeping has improved and his batting speaks for itself. Alec Stewart was as dodgy as Prior with the gloves at the start of his career but made himself into a great wicket-keeper.

  • Comment number 48.

    I am afraid Vaughan has to go he has not consistently performed with the bat for ages. The problem is that all England need to do to save this match is to do what SA did at Lords and bat for two days. I cant remember ever seeing England do that to save a test and therein lies the problem.
    We just dont seem to have the mental toughness that the top teams have, and until we get it we are always going to be the nearly men of international cricket.

  • Comment number 49.

    We have a tendency to immediately call for people's head, once things go wrong.

    Let's apply some rational arguments to this issue: Yes, Vaughan is looking horribly out of touch, nowhere more so than against South Africa's fast bowlers. But at the same time, he is one of the shrewdest captains in current Test cricket and dropping him now what through the team into turmoil, after recent questionable selections.

    More importantly: Can anyone name me one member of the squad who would be ready and able to fill his shoes? I see long term candidates in Broad, Cook and even KP, but at present no one to fill the void immediately!

  • Comment number 50.

    Sorry Vaughanie, but the time has come for your position in the side to to be seriously considered.

    As has already been stated, scoring a hundred every ten matches doesn't make up for dismal failure in the other nine, and as politeBoobie (9) says, you need to do more to silence your critics.

    It's like the Beckham situation - he has been in the team for too long on past glories, and far from one moment of glory silencing the citics, the inability to reach such heights on a regular basis merely proves them correct.

    The furore that greets a Vauhan hundred just about sums the situation up - surely the England captain and number three batsman scoring a hundred should not really be that big news?

  • Comment number 51.

    No-one ready to take over as captain?! Strauss is just as capable of doing so as he was when he was catastrophically overlooked ahead of the Ashes embarrassment last winter.

  • Comment number 52.

    to tempestteacup - re post #34

    Hear hear.
    You've hit the nail for a six!

  • Comment number 53.

    I heard TMS where the lady from Devon advocated the dropping of Vaughn.I agree and would make Rob Key captain as his batting justifies a place whilst he looks a good captain at Kent.I'd drop Ambrose too for Read

  • Comment number 54.

    strauss scored a hatful when he was captain so i don't there need be any undue worry about how his form would be effected were he to take on the captaincy role. though admittedly the circumstances now are a bit different from when he was 'covering' for vaughn!

    i don't think it's a massive worry having two lefties at the top of the innings at all. on the contrary, i think they've looked increasingly strong together. while it's not a massive consideration, it's worth mentioning that they've both been on the recieving end of some slightly dodgy decisions this series...







  • Comment number 55.

    Come on guys, realistically Vaughan won't be dropped, his batting is suspect but I still think he will come good and there are no replacements out there anyway. This is all about two things, the right players and the right mental attitude, currently we have neither. Drop Ambrose, Broad and Pattinson and bring back Prior , Jones and Sidebotham (I also think Collingwood should never have been dropped!) As regards mental attitude let's get an Aussie or Saffer in to teach us!
    The players have the ability but as in all top level sport it's the mental toughness that makes you the best.

  • Comment number 56.

    Protea's fans would delight in Strauss captaining the Test squad... and KP captaining the ODI squad... (maybe Pattinson could captain the EPL 20/Twenty lot !)

  • Comment number 57.

    Its just like the India series last year

    Eng thought that would be easy after nearly winning at Lords and now they are on the verge of a good hiding, just like v India at Trent Bridge last summer

  • Comment number 58.

    Vaughan should be dropped! Get serious he is probably the best batsman in the world when he is on form. Ntini deliveries to dismiss both him and Strauss were top notch and no blame can be put forward. It is just sad to see SA bowlers putting us under so much pressure smething only Jimmy and Freddie did for us. Team selection will remain the big issue with this test match. I agre with Goochs comments about Harmy and Hoggy both should be back in the side both now returning to form as well and they should be there at the expense of Sidebottom and Broad.

    Wicket-Keeper is still an issue even though Ambrose has done OK he is no near as godd a gloveman as Read or Foster or batsman as Prior. However the problem of playing a bowling line up of Hoggard Jones Harmy Panesar and Jones whoever will play form these is that again we have a large tail. Maybe thats where Broad or someone like Bresnan and maybe Afil Rashid can come good for us in the future but now we need o play aour best bowlers whether they can bat or not. Remember it is the responsibility of the batsmen to score the runs and not the tail.

  • Comment number 59.

    The argument that Vaughan 'is probably the best batsman in the world when he is in form' defies logic and the facts.

    1) He is not in form (look at the stats)

    2) He doesn't seem able to move his feet. (Look at the number of times recently he has been out bowled)

    3) He has not been the player he was (however good you might think that was) since his knee injuries

    In addition, he is a liability in the field, (he has never been a good catcher) and his captaincy has always been suspect when the team is struggling. (Anyone can captain a team when the batters are getting 600 and the bowlers are taking 20 wickets a game)

    Sorry but his time has come. If the selectors don't act now, we will be back to the old scenario of mucking about with the captaincy in the lead-up to the next ashes series.

  • Comment number 60.

    The lady from Devon had a point. MPV looks as badly out of form as Strauss and Colly did before they were dropped. He may well be a world class bat, but he is averaging mid twenties this year. As for being worth a place for his captaincy, look at the last 6 months, both in terms of results and performances. Evidence of great Captaincy? This is far more of an issue than his batting. He seems to have lost the knack of inspiring the side. They look tired and fed up. I hope I am wrong, but I can't see us losing by less than an innings and 100 runs and a 2-0 SA series win.

    As the TMS team said yesterday afternoon, England is a team more difficult to leave than join (unless you are an Aussie roofer).

  • Comment number 61.

    CAPTAINCY IS SUSPECT. ARE YOU INSANE!!!!!

    He is the best captain in the world bar none, hes worth having because he takes wickets with captaincy. As good as having a bowler who can take 2 or 3 wickets.

  • Comment number 62.

    Does anybody think that Freddy Flintoff has had a good return to test match cricket??

  • Comment number 63.

    Where do you buy your rose-coloured spectacles? I repeat, anyone can captain when the team is doing well.

  • Comment number 64.

    Average but the lad has only had a handful of first class games so is not really up to speed yet. He will get better and he is an inspiration to the team when he is on top form. Give him time.

  • Comment number 65.

    Estesark wrote:

    "I think you'll find that many of us have been questioning Vaughan's place in the side for a long, long time, not just because he lost the toss."

    Yes, but no-one really cares what any of us think, beyond the extremely limited scope of the comments section of the Test Match Special blog. But still people feel the need to make these grandiose, lordly statements, as if they carry some kind of weight.

    Call for him to be dropped all you like, it won't make any difference. Until, of course, he is dropped, at which point you will claim you had some kind of impact on the decision. Hilarious.

  • Comment number 66.

    Freefrench...

    I realize we are living under the most right-wing government in living memory in the uk at present, but the freedom of speech still exists (just about) so people are entitled to say what they feel. It may not make any difference, but it makes people feel a bit less frustrated to be able to give vent to their feelings, even if it's on a blog like this.

    This is a game of opinions, and everyone has their opinion.

    "I may disagree with everything you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it..." or something like that.

  • Comment number 67.

    If England were to lose this test series it would be bad but not a disaster.
    It may well make England get rid of some "dead wood" in their team and build over the winter for the ultimate test next summer.
    England do have a fine nucleus of players who, on their day, are potential world beaters and we must realise we are playing a form side in South Africa.
    Pieterson, Flintoff and Sidebottom are players who could get in many test teams.
    It'snice to think of Sidebottom in that bracket after working for so long on the county scene and other players need to be brought through like that.
    Owais Shah, Robert Key and James Foster have all plied their trade hard in the county circuit and must all be knocking on the door for call ups. Simon Jones, Mathew Hoggard, Matt Prior and Steve Harmison have all worked hard to regain form and Simon Jones in particular should not be overlooked.
    Through the academy Onions, Bopara and Broad have all done well and as Broad has shown, the academy does work.
    So why bring in a man in Pattinson and make a mockery of all that??
    It is a slap in the face to all the players asked to go back to their counties to work hard and a slap in the face to talented youngsters at the academy.
    These are the same people who continually pick a wicketkeeper who can't catch or bat! Pick players on form Moores!!

  • Comment number 68.

    both Vaughan and collingwood's places in the team where only extenderded because they where the captains of the teams. however with colingwood gone how long till vaughan goes as well, not long I think. Strauss deseves to be captain in my view. he has good understanding of the game and is a decent batsmen.
    as for bowling, why did we pick this guy i have never heard of a head of some real experanced bowlers we had accesss to, jones, hoggard, harmoson e.c.t. i think we need to relise that we do have a ageing team but look as the aussies. we are younger than them. for me we need the a mix of youth and experance in all areas

  • Comment number 69.

    re post 61 by BearHenchOZBOZZ

    MPV's captaincy worth 2-3 wickets?

    Is that per innings, match or series?

    3 years ago it was per innings and it was great to watch. Sadly not the case any more. I look at the results and performances in the last year to 18 months and under MPV. You either lead from the from with performances or drive a side by getting the best out of others, in both cases leadership seems to have gone AWOL.

    Anybody know what Mike Brearley is doing for the next few weeks?

  • Comment number 70.

    I feel that Michael Vaughan should now bat at number 5 reason number 1 he lacks the decisive footwork that he once had therefore he is no good batting in the top 3 against the new ball, reason number 2 he can have more time to relax and gather himself after captaining the team out on the field, reason 3 Your best batsmen should be batting at three ie Kevin Pietersen
    Can somebody please tell me why are we picking players who are carrying injuries going into a test match, we never seem to learn remember the 2002 ashes in Australia when we selected Flintoff and Gough after having major surgery and were nowhere near fit, We've got so many fast bowlers to pick from Hoggard, Jones, Harmison and Mahmood who is bowling with pace and swing any thoughts?

  • Comment number 71.

    England should give Vaughan another test after this one but if he under performs again then enough is enough.
    He's a good captain but England cant just rely on that.

  • Comment number 72.

    Weird to think that some people believe dropping a guy who made a ton last time out will solve Englands batting problems! Wrong balance to this team. Flintoff is fit enough to play (and anyway will bowl through injury for England), and Patinson is clearly a horrible mistake. I don't get to watch as much county cricket as the selectors and so am slow to criticise them, but this one looks as if it is approaching a mass resignation cock-up. Why is Broad playing? He is one for the future, as everyone says, so lets wait for that future and pick him then. Bowlers who can't get people out even get dropped at my club. And all of you who go on about Australia not sticking with class but out of form players can't have been watching the same Aussie teams that I have over the years. I recall Ponting, Clarke, Hayden, Gilchrist, Gillespie, Taylor, Langer, Boon and others having horrible runs of form but not losing their places to knee jerk reaction.

  • Comment number 73.

    The difference with the Aussies is that (for the most part) they were still winning when the players you mention had a bad trot - Hayden excepted. They did drop Dizzy for Tait remember...

    They had the ability to carry a player for a game or two and still win. England do not have that luxury.

    Watching your captain performing badly is a downer for any side (just ask the guys who play for me on a Sunday). When you are trying to "make up" for a poor personal performance it only increases the pressure on your captaincy.

  • Comment number 74.

    To all the jimmy anderson detractors out there... have you been watching the last three days of cricket?

    fantastic bowling with no luck whatsoever, 100% commitment and effort, determination, guts, skill, courage, and above all pride in representing your country.

    that's what you get from jimmy anderson. more power to your elbow, jimmy!!!

  • Comment number 75.

    anderson slaves away for nearly 2 hours, gives blood for the cause and then pietersen throws his wicket away with a shot like that. i despair, i really do...

  • Comment number 76.

    Well played Jimmy, not so KP!
    Doe she know we haev our backs to the wall? I am one of his greatest admirers but there is a time and a place. Thsi could all be over by teatime.

  • Comment number 77.

    Whatever, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for Owais Shah to get into the England Test team.

    #74: more power to Jimmy's chin, too.

    By the by, this match could be setting up for a repeat of '81- Flintoff might do a Botham and Pattinson a Willis. Or maybe not.

  • Comment number 78.

    KP would be a much better cricketer if he had a slightly higher IQ.

  • Comment number 79.

    #79: you mean he would be a better bricklayer!

  • Comment number 80.

    He didn't look too disappointed did he?
    Where is the backbone. All credit to Jimmy Anderson if all the England team had his attitude we wouldn't be in this situation

  • Comment number 81.

    And a very dark cloud it is.....there seems little point in putting together a team of 10 form players, England needs 11 players, in form against this SA side. I agree Vaughan needs to contribute fully which in his case must mean with the bat as well...

  • Comment number 82.

    Hear, hear, surfdude. The thing the aussies and the saffers have is pride in representing their country. Until we match that, all the talent in the world won't make a good 'team'. We have too many individuals. Jimmy exemplifies what we need: a lot of heart and 100% commitment to the cause.

  • Comment number 83.

    The selectors need to be sacked for gross incompetence. This has been a humiliation for England and a complete rethink is needed.

    It is clear one of the H men (Harmison Hoggard) should have returned.

    I watched Harmy at Guildford and Uxbridge and he is bowling well, too good for County cricketers.

    This shows the predudice on behalf of the selectors that I have not seen since they tried to keep out John Augustine Snow a great bowler.

    So why not a radical move and drop the captain and make Straus the England captain.

    He should of been captain for the ashes tour, yet another mistake by our professional selectors!


    Tottenhaman





  • Comment number 84.

    Agger's rightly points out Englands lack of menace but is then quick to excuse gentile Stuart Broad from any blame. What is it with the press and their seeming reluctance to critisise Broad? Is it his famous cricketing heritage or just his long flowing blond locks that has mesmerised everyone? Is it just me or is he just a good County bowler? England have 3 World Class bowlers (I don't need to name them) waiting on the side lines that will strike fear into SA. And I won't even get started on Pattenson....

  • Comment number 85.

    Bell out to another loose shot....

    Anyone got a white flag???

  • Comment number 86.

    #84: 'good county bowler' - when has Broad ever played for his county? The county system has been completely bypassed for the last decade. It started with Fletcher and its gone on with Moores.

    Re: Jimmy Anderson - he crossed from brave to foolhardy pdq - hit twice in a row the 'management' should have made sure he retired - would have meant a precious wicket in hand for later.

    As for Pietenson...

  • Comment number 87.

    #85: that's bad news - I heard after the last test he was the new Bradman.

  • Comment number 88.

    Wake up call for England...

    The following need to be dropped for the Third Test:

    Cook replaced by Key
    Bell replaced by Shah
    Ambrose replaced by Foster
    Broad replaced by Harmison
    Pattinson replaced by Sidebottom

    and Vaughan needs to know that if he does not score runs in the next two matches - then he does not have Brearley status and will be dropped for the winter tours.

  • Comment number 89.

    Look it's no good going on about the bowling. We have the bowlers in the squad and in past squads (i.e. include Jones, Harmison, Hoggard - obvious).

    The prob is the selection - which had gone to the Aussie model but has now undone that with one (Pattinson) stroke. What is the sense of having a salaried squad and then doing this?

    And the batting - as it has been for years. Drop MPV, fine - and replace him with? In recent years and for all his latest bad trot I prefer Colly, as bat, field, bowl and capt: one for one, no contest. You can't possibly play both of KP and Shah - KP has to be played, and I agree he has to bowl, to make up for the one-cheap-smear-dismissal per game he (like Shah) always dishes up.

    And get Geoffrey out of the TMS box and into coaching some batters to have mental strength and Test-quality cussedness. They deserve winding up.

  • Comment number 90.

    Have to agree with much of the above. I don't know if I'm alone with this one, but has Steven Davies at Worcestershire become a completely forgotten man? Quality gloveman, and is a batsman with real technique rather than being a one-dimensional slogger........

  • Comment number 91.

    cannot see how Vaughan can look his players in the eye with his batting record since becoming captain. He seems to produce one decent knock per series, and is pretty much a passenger the rest of the time. Even in the 2005 Ashes series, he had only one hundred and one fifty. It's not as if he's such a fantastic tactical captain - Stephen Fleming showed him up in earlier days, Vettori did this summer. That wouldn't matter so much if he was leading by example, but he's a so-so fielder and very occasional bowler: it has to be as a batsman that he justifies his place. The Aussies wouldn't pick him, that's for sure.

  • Comment number 92.

    #76 This is exactly right, and so is the later IQ comment. It has been censored from the celebratory video, but when we won in 2005 at the Oval, almost KPs first shot was an ugly attempt to hit Warne over Father Time. He missed and nearly fell over.

    The crowd howled and cursed. Someone behind me shouted (understatedly in the circs) "This is a Test Match!!"

    The rest, as they say, is history. And so is the fact it could have been a Blob, and one so inglorious he'd have been dropped from the squad forever. It's also still the case at present: I suppose you can't tinker with a mentality so unsophisticated.

  • Comment number 93.

    At the risk of being unpopular, perhaps it might be that the best players in England just aren't quite as good as the best players in South Africa at the moment?

    England is a pretty reasonable test team - a decent distance ahead of the likes of NZ and the Windies but a decent distance behind the Aussies. Perhaps, just at the moment, the South Africans are also just a little better than England.

    Finding scapegoats is great fun and certainly fills up the blogosphere but sometimes we just need to acknowledge that the other team is better. Hopefully I'll be proved wrong in the coming tests!

  • Comment number 94.

    re post #62 from eirebelly.

    No I don't. Average stats as a batsman, average stats as a bowler, performed exceptionally well in both for three Test matches, best quick in the world for about a year. Nothing to ride home about.

    Not the white knight people are hoping for.

  • Comment number 95.

    I agree with the majority of the postings today. Vaughn is being carried by the rest of the team, apart from a century against a very ordinary NZ team, he has contributed nothing with the bat this summer.
    Yes they say he's a great captain, but when has he out foxed one of the top teams in recent years. 2005 is history and it's time the selectors chose players on form not sentiment.
    Vaughn has got to go back to the county circuit and learn the basics again in particular moving his feet.

    As for the bowling what on earth were the selectors thinking about choosing a man to open the bowling with only 12 first class games behind him, against what is accepted to be the second best test side in the world at the moment.
    Pattinson (he's an aussie by any other name by the way) should be left in the one test wonder club and we need to pick bowlers who are in form and can take wickets especially at the top of the order. I would bring back Simon Jones, he's proved his fitness and is regularly taking wickets. If Ryan sidebottom is fit Broad must make way for him for the next Test.

    Selectors take note, if you pick Vaughn again for the next test and we are comprehensively stuffed again, as looks likely in this test, he must go. Hopefully he would have the good grace and decency to do the right thing and step down, although I won't hold my breath.

    Nevter

  • Comment number 96.

    If Tim Ambrose can't win this test no-one can. The greatest wicket-keeper batsman ever?

  • Comment number 97.

    He is out

  • Comment number 98.

    pity you didn't wait a few more seconds before posting, womble, he's out!

  • Comment number 99.

    are you related to nasser hussein by any chance? (ha, ha) - curse of the commentator!!!

  • Comment number 100.

    #88: please don't be fed up and become a selector!

 

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