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England future brighter with Harmison back

Jonathan Agnew | 15:20 UK time, Monday, 11 August 2008

England duly achieved their victory with only an occasional hiccup or two, lifting morale in a dressing room that was in real need of a boost.

As we all expected, South Africa have proved a much greater challenge than New Zealand and in order to gauge where England stand in the scheme of things, we should all pay close attention to the forthcoming series between Australia and South Africa.

England remain frustratingly unpredictable and inconsistent. Bear in mind that they should have lost the Manchester Test to New Zealand - and yet they could have forced an overwhelming victory over South Africa at Lord's.

Strauss and Cook did most of the work in England's successful run chaseIndeed had they fielded this side at Lord's, with a strengthened attack including Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff, they almost certainly would have done. The balance of the team - whether to play four bowlers or five - continues to provoke debate, particularly because of the effect it has on the wicketkeeper.

Matt Prior must be strongly favoured to return to the Test team - but he will be praying that he doesn't do anything to blot his copy book during the one-day series which starts next week.

Harmison's recall has had a dramatic effect - not necessarily in terms of wickets here, but he bowled menacingly and England's future looks a good deal more optimistic with him back to his best.

When he and Matthew Hoggard lost their places in February, Hoggard looked the more likely to return one day. Now, even the Yorkshireman himself accepts that his international career is probably over.

It is good news that the performance squad will gather in India one month before the Test series gets underway in December.

That ensures that Harmison will have every opportunity to be in the best possible shape, and this could also be an opportunity for Simon Jones to continue his carefully monitored return.

I thought, generally, Kevin Pietersen made a good start as captain here, given that he has so little experience and he will learn lessons every match. India might be especially tough, but valuable at the same time, and whether Michael Vaughan is there to support him remains very much up to Vaughan.

He needs to score heavily for Yorkshire, but has the time to do so before the end of the season. Personally, I think it is unlikely that he will return quite so quickly, and it might also do him good to follow Andrew Strauss's example last winter, and take time to play some cricket overseas with a view to challenging for a place to the West Indies.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Congratulations to England. Great job by KP and his colleagues. They batted well and they bowled well. A good team effort.

    Thanks to Jonathan and his team mates for the fine coverage.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 2.

    A great start for the new KP era of cricket. I know England are still a bit patchy but we're going to get stronger. The old guard (bowlers) are returning one by one and showing some form, there's plenty of batsman queuing up for their chance as well. By the next ashes series we'll be a hard team to beat and I think we can get to number 1 in the world in the next couple of years. I think we'll see a more bullish and aggressive England under KP which is the right way to go.

  • Comment number 3.

    good result, but ultimately meaningless

    Why only 4 tests? Its barely mid august, plenty of time for another one if you get rid of some of those even more meaningless one dayers.

  • Comment number 4.

    Congratulations KP and the boys.

    I know Boycott and others have pointed out that SA had their minds on other things for this game but it was still a test win against a very good side.

    What this shouldn't gloss over is the fact that our selectors didn't get this series right and we'll be left wandering what might have been had they made the correct decisions.

    There is still a hell of a lot of work to do before we can face the Aussies with confidence but we're on the way now.

    In my opinion we need to:

    1. Settle on a no. 3.
    2. Find a number six who will go in ahead of Freddie.
    3. Get Simon Jones back in the bowling line-up.

  • Comment number 5.

    solid win and thorughly deserved.

    easy to say harmison should have played at lord's but having beaten new zealand twice and then made south africa follow on, no one mentioned his name.

    i think the finger should be pointed at harmison, not the selectors - the reason he wasn't being picked was down to the player, pure and simple.

    hopefully being dropped has made him relalise what he was missing.

  • Comment number 6.

    South Africa weren't up for it. I see very little cause for English optimism in anything that's happened this series. The difficulty is that nearly every player is playing at about 70% of their capability - none is more obviously droppable than any other. If Bell, Strauss and Cooke were firing, we'd be talking about dropping Collingwood (or any other combination of the above). Our spinner, wicketkeeper and half of our seamers are also well below what we need them to be.

    Remember how England dropped Chris Read for Geraint Jones in the Carribean in 2004, following 3 straight wins? We're too mediocre right now to even identify who to drop...

  • Comment number 7.

    Well done England, SA may not have been right up for it this match but its a great effort for England to have lifted themselves so well after all that had gone on in the previous week.

    I agree Aggers Eng are frustratingly unpredictable, don't forget they could well have won at Edgbaston had Aleem Daar given out Smith on one of the 3/4 occasions he was out, and you mention Manchester against NZ, a great fightback but what on earth were we doing in that situation in the first place?

    Headingly ruined the summer, daft selection and a very poor performance against a solid but not outstanding SA side.

    England really need to kick on now, as yes it is time to start talking/thinking about the Ashes. The whole side needs to maintain balance, particularly in the type of bowlers selected. Our best team in recent years (yes you know which one) had bowlers for all conditions and regularly rotated fine performances. I really hope Jones will return (and stay fit) as alongside Panesar, Freddy, Harmy and one of Sidders or Anderson I think we could give those Aussies a real run for their money again next year.

  • Comment number 8.

    quick question?

    because of panesar's lack of diversity amongst his deliveries, england surely need to take a second spinner to india...

    who is everyones tip to go

    options include...


    any thoughts????

  • Comment number 9.

    I want to comment about Kallis in the way of congratulating England on finding a flaw in his technique. He managed merely 103 runs in the entire series - quite unbelieveable really - and was out, what, 3 or 4 times to a yorker/full toss.

    And they weren't all to the same bowler either with Sidebottom, Flintoff and Anderson all doing the business.

    I think this sumer will be the making of Anderson, he was excellent against NZ and consistent against SA. His overall bowling average this summer is mid 20s (early 20s against NZ and early 30s against SA) which is the way averages work with most players, whether batsmen or bowlers, having better performances versus lesser teams and things averaging out verses better opposition.

    Having said that, for India he'll need to continue to work on getting reverse swing as 'proper swing' won't happen much there!

  • Comment number 10.

    No one has really questioned the Strauss/Cook partnership.

    Strauss for me looks a walking wicket IF you pitch the ball up consistently. He was in the same boat as Colly in New Zealand and one innings seems to have made everyone forget this?

    Cook is the type of young cricketer we need but someone must coach him to be a better front foot player. take away the cuts and pulls you are left with the edge to third man as his only front foot scoring shot!

    A good Aussie attack would have us 2 down before 50.

    I haven't seen enough of the likes of Denly but Strauss feel challenged for his England spot. Thoughts?

  • Comment number 11.

    #10...Fair point

    I feel many players arent performing to their potential
    At the moment i would say that only:

    Cook, Pietersen, Bell, Flintoff, Anderson have booked a ticket to India

    Strauss, as mentioned, looks so vulnerable at top of the order. A shadow of his former self in 2004-2005

    Collingwood, despite two good knocks, may be exposed on dusty sub continent wickets that turn square on day one, especially if he is going to bat at five

    Ambrose for me is gone. I think Prior or Foster will get a go now

    Questions over the seam and spin department

    Five man attack in India with 3 quicks and 2 spin

    I would say:



  • Comment number 12.

    I very much agree with the point about England being unpredictable and inconsistent. It has been like that for some time.

    Consistency in performance can be helped by consistency in selection. Arguably, where it all went wrong for England was the Headingley test, with the "strange" selection of Pattinson, and Ambrose as a #6, thus breaking up a team which had been the same for 6 games. I think after the Lord's test everyone panicked too prematurely. SA have stuck with their XI (barring an injury to Steyn) throughout the series and have reaped the rewards. Although I don't believe that the team which England stuck with for those previous 6 tests was their best XI, SA's probably was.

    It would be in England's best interests to keep the team as stable as possible from now on. Pietersen has shown already he is prepared to put faith in some under-fire players such as Collingwood, Broad and Harmison, and also Flintoff as a #6, which is a good sign. Pietersen and the selectors now needs to do the same with a wicket-keeper, (be it Ambrose or somebody else) not have one chosen for them by the media.

  • Comment number 13.

    Good win shows England are more effective with a 5 bowler attack.

    I hope though this isn't a return to the dark 1990s when we always won the oval test in a dead rubber....... I don't think it is but we will wait and see.

    I think Ambrose may be ousted for the india series probably to accomodate Prior but it wasn't that long ago he was being criticised for poor batting and glove work.

    I think perhaps Simon Jones would add even more to the attack perhaps at either Anderson or Broads expense.

    As for the batting wonder if Pieterson may try to tempt Tresco out of retirement? I think of the batsmen contesting for a spot Robert Key is a contender but not that many others spring to mind (maybe Shah?)

  • Comment number 14.

    As for the openers it seems only recently we had an embarrassment of riches with Vaughan, Strauss, Tresco, Key etc. all battling it out to squeeze into the team.

    I'm an unashamed MV fan and would love to see him get back to something approaching his pre-captaincy form for England. Maybe Key is worth a go though?

    Certainly Strauss seems to be living on borrowed time. Cook should stay, he's limited and will hopefully develop but he manages to get runs in all conditions against all bowlers - needs to kick on mind - 6x 50's and no hundreds says it all!

  • Comment number 15.

    South Africa had their foot off the gas; we regularly used to beat even Australia 3-1, with the win coming after the series had gone. That said, you can only beat what's in front of you and KP's team did. Congratulations!

    This result proves we need 5 Test class bowlers to win a Test, and if that puts more pressure on our inconsistent batting then it's time the stick (maybe even the broom) rather than the carrot was used in that department. Good to see KP encourage Monty to give it some air, and let's have Simon Jones back as he's Test class whenever he's fit. Also keep looking for a competent keeper who can score Test runs.

  • Comment number 16.

    An interesting series by two potentially good, not great, sides. Both sides had two very poor first innings that apart from at Lords cost them the game. Some very medoicre batting and bowling at times from both sides. They just don't seem to be
    able to concentrate for long periods.
    After all the pre-series hype the SA bowlers were pretty innocuous generally. Despite that Strauss, Cook, Vaughan and Bell
    seldom looked like batting for more than two sessions which is what Test batters should do. I will be suprised if SA give Australia many problems.

  • Comment number 17.

    * Correct my own point #11

    Should be


  • Comment number 18.

    NottsoMuriniho offers his suggestions for additional spinners for the India tour. Why do we need one? If any of the 3 suggestions were good enough to play for England surely they'd be playing instead of Monty if only to avoid the ignominy of having the worst fielder in international cricket in your team.

    If other spinners are not good enough to oust Monty as the single spinner in English conditions then they can't be good enough to oust one of our seamers, most of whom know which end of a bat to hold.

    I'm really excited about Rahid as a prospect but Darren Gough, on his radio show, always seems to suggest that he needs more time.
    I can't bring myself to accept that it is okay to play for a second country once one has played international cricket for a first - so to my mind Saqlain shouldn't play.
    Which leaves Swann, who must realistically be the next man in line, I'd be happy to see him given a go but only instead of Monty.

    Why take 2 one dimensional slow bowlers?

    Also, why doesn't the new skipper bowl more? He, at least, adds height to his armoury and if Indian conditions are so conducive to spin bowling he should be as effective as Collingwood or Bopara.

  • Comment number 19.

    A good result for England-Well Done!
    The openers showed a bit more concentration but Strauss still hasnt got back that sharpness to his batting and I dont think he bats that well with Cook.Another opener such as Key may steady Cook,allowing him to stop giving his wicket away.The rest bar Ambrose have played their part and they can all be satisfied with this game.Ambrose is really out of his depth at this level but you can see he gives it everything so he is a tryer.KP done well overall and I admit he wasnt my first choice,but I think now he will be a good captain.He certainly got the best out of Harmison,Anderson and Broad and that is a plus.Im not sure that all the players got behind KP but I guess thats to be expected at the moment. The next load of bish bash bosh games will be used by the media as a starting point to choose players for the tests but lets not be hasty!Its a different game.We dont need five minute heros in test cricket.

  • Comment number 20.

    Are you sure Notts? Anderson instead of Harmison when both Jones and Flintoff will give you swing but at extra pace?

    Like the look of two spinners and giving young Rashid a chance. We've both left Broad out but opportunities on the India tour may be scarcer than in the Windies

  • Comment number 21.

    Having listened to all the pre and post match interviews with KP, am I the only one thinking that he has been purposefully giving the big love to Harmy?

    He has bigged-up the big man at every opportunity without seeming to put the pressure on him that perhaps others may have done.

    It has been fantastic to see Harmy bowling with a smile on his face, it speaks volumes for county cricket and what performing day in day out can do for a player.

    Is this a taste of KP's questioned man-management skills? Seems pretty good to me.

    Although Sideshow has performed fantastically over the last 12 months, I think he may also have had his time. Unfair to cast him aside, but I can't see him in the first choice England team given how much Jimmy has come on this summer as well.

    Thoughts on Sidebottom anyone? Has he got a future as a first-choicer?

  • Comment number 22.

    Why do people keep on mentioning Key as an England opener, He only averages 40 in CC so will he improve at test level...I don't think so.

    I have asked Key supporters before to tell me why he should be selected, but they haven't come forward with any reasons.

  • Comment number 23.

    In response to shedmanlarge, i believe to be successful in India or the sub continent, two different types of spinners is crucial

    England drew 1-1 with India last time out with Udal (right arm off) and Panesar (left arm off)

    India also employ the same time of tactic. Harbhajan (right arm off) and Kumble (right leg spin)

    Sri Lanka a like with Mendis and Murali

    The fact is Monty will be a match winner in India with support and some at the other end giving the ball some rip both ways

    I think Rashid could provide that

    What England dont want is Panesar bowling to right handers, spinning away and them leaving it or the problem England had against Graeme Smith at Egdbaston where he turns it to much not to get LBW's

  • Comment number 24.

    Really pleased to Harmison back in the side and bowling close to his best. Personally I was frustrated that he was not brought back a little sooner. I am sure he was worth more than the wickets than he himself took. It was great to see some of the South Africans being forced to hurry and feeling the pressure created by Harmison. I am sure it helped to make the bowling of those around more effective.

    Are there also hints that Panesar is looking to increase the variety of his bowling after his disaapointing return in the Edgbaston test. I have seen it said that the modern bowler has to keep developing their game and it would be great if he could introduce something new and surprising to his game in time for next summer.

    Regarding the balance of the side; what side loses test series if they regularly take 20 wickets in a`match? If you have match winning bowlers, the batsmen will perform or new ones will emerge say I.

  • Comment number 25.

    Broad may be useful in Windies with his height and potential bounce capabilities!

  • Comment number 26.

    Sidebottom as one of 6 bowlers out of which to pick the 5 fittest/least tired is fine. He has been great for 12 months and seems to be able to vary the pace he bowls at depending upon conditions. What's he like when conventional swing is hard to come by, can he reverse it?

  • Comment number 27.

    Whatever the merits of England's win in this test match, it's good that they HAVE won against a team other than New Zealand. Actually, this series has not proved a lot as regards the comparitive strength of the sides: South Africa were ill-prepared in the First Test, and without their best bowler for the second half of the series: England were without theirs until the final test (and with Jones still on the way back, we've power to add).
    England's batting still is a cause for concern, as is the inconsistency among our bowlers; I'm still not convinced that Anderson has the day-in-day-out control to be a safe bet....but hopefully this performance squad (a long-overdue development, and the best bit of thinking by the ECB for ages) should give us a chance of keeping Harmy and the others somewhere near their best - though it might also be worth noting that once they reache a peak, they've also been inclined to go off the boil afterwards too - Harmy and Sidey being cases in point.
    I think South Africa still have some work to do before Australia: Stuart Clark will not give them the leave-alone balls that our seamers did, and Brett Lee will continue where Harmy left off.
    Either way, both teams can find causes for both encouragement and concern as a result of this series.

  • Comment number 28.

    Bourne-Mouthy: I'm no big fan of Key and winced when he was picked against the Windies a few years back (he got 228) but without wishing Tresco didn't have that illness who else do you suggest to replace Strauss?

  • Comment number 29.

    England ought not to kid themselves.
    The team has beaten a South African Side that wasn't really "up" for this match; a fact epitomised by Smith's lackluster performance with the bat days after that genuinely great innings in Birmingham.
    England have been deeply inconsistant and as such it is fitting that Harmison's return hs been heralded as something like "a return to normalcy".
    Both Harmison and England have the ability to be absolutely brilliant, but also to crack when placed under pressure, both to stave off defeat and to push for victory. Whilst the pitch at Lords was awful had the boot been on the other foot I doubt the English batting line up could have saved the test.
    Nor is Harmison the only player to demonstrate England's lack of rythem as a team.
    None of the Batsman with the exception of the new captain have really placed the South African bowling under pressure: Too many post too low scores too often.
    Monty has not bowled with enough control this series, which is sloppy for a slow bowler. Although he is the best spinner in England that is hardly the greatest of achivements and stands on a par with being the nicest bailiff in Runnymead. He too must work hard over the winter if England are to succeed.

  • Comment number 30.

    RhinoRob - Should Strauss be replaced, especially as there isn't anybody better out there at the moment?

  • Comment number 31.

    Thankfully one column which I agree with. This one is nicely balanced without praising KP to the high heavens as some of the other British columnists are doing.

    It was a good test match, and England got their formula working.

    I would urge the selectors to keep the team together and work out a way to get Hoggard back into the mix. They should make this team work together better, without chopping and changing the side further. I hope they see some sense in probably giving one keeper a run for some time, and be wary of drafting in some mediocre players from the counties. I've heard names of Key, Shah, Rashid, Sales, Marketing, thrown about on this message boards and hope the selectors have some more wisdom than that of the crowds.

  • Comment number 32.


    I agree with the 2 types of spinner theory...

    ...if the 2 types of spinner are able enough.

    Would you really blood a 20 year old leg spinner, with just about a seasons worth of first-class experience, in India where all of the batters are breastfed spin from birth.

    I haven't seen anything of himoutside of 20/20 but have been keeping an eye on him since he did so well for the U 19's a couple of years ago. He has done some good stuff but his stats don't tell me that he is doing enough consistently to play a full international yet. I wish he was!

  • Comment number 33.

    Well played England, you deserved to win and as someone who enjoys fast bowling I think it's good for cricket that Harmison has got his act together. Hopefully he doesn't spend his next 3 month break with his feet up again!

    For similar reasons I would have liked to see Steyn on this pitch, but I guess they were never going to risk him in a dead rubber.

    Oh well, bring on the one dayers...

  • Comment number 34.

    Bourne-mouthy: Fair point, i'd stick with him for now but it seems a real struggle for him to score runs consistently. He got worked out and worked over after a great start to his test career and it showed real guts to fight back from that but he seems so limited now, and with Cook of similar ilk i can't help feeling his time will be up soon. Hope i'm wrong.

  • Comment number 35.

    RhinoRob - No I'm not convinced about Strauss, but change for change sake, rarely works. Unless someone is really challenging for a place and could improve the side why disrupt the team.

  • Comment number 36.

    I don't think that we're looking in the right direction for our benchmarking.
    I think that Australia and SA might be fighting it out for 2nd and 3rd in the rankings before long because it is the Sri Lankans who seem to be unearthing the exciting talent (Prasad, Mendis)
    Fast left arm bowlers and unorthadox spinners that is the way forward. Maybe I would blood a 20 year old leg spinner in India this winter.

  • Comment number 37.

    Did i miss somthing or was that mike selvey's final test on tms? Why is he leaving the show? He is such a good broadcaster.

  • Comment number 38.

    Best Indian 2 Test Team (Two sand tracks at the Bradbourne,Mumbai/Ahmedabad

    * squad selected/res cover

    Bell *Shah
    Collingwood *Bopara
    Prior *Read
    Flintoff *Broad

    Best Test Windies/Ashes 2009 Team (Long term team on wickets that suit quicks better)

    Strauss * Vaughan if batting well
    Bell *Shah
    Collingwood *Bopara
    Prior *Read
    Flintoff *Broad
    Jones *Sidebottom
    Monty *Rashid

    Basically the best batting 5, Bowling 5, with a Batting Wkt (accept Prior will drop 1, 5/series catch/match; he might not) Batting strengh to 7 with Fred. Top 6 with batting ave 40+; Ave 32; no way can Fred bat at 6.

    In 4 tests Ambrose has had only 9 catches, the rest of the team catching 27. Boucher caught 18, the rest of the Saffer team catching 27. This is not Ambrose's fault but raises a number of points.

    1) Most England catches going less to keeper and first slip. ??????????

    2) England Batting more vulnerable to the outside off stump ball, giving 27 fine tickles in the series; compared to Saffers 14 fine nicks to Wkt/1st slip.

    3) Conclusion: England can risk Prior.

  • Comment number 39.

    I agree with Albocourt's thought about luring Trescothick out of his self imposed retirement from international cricket. I think KP should give it a go.

  • Comment number 40.


    There is no chance Tresco will travel to India-Nov or Windies - Jan/Feb 2009; so the only scenario "might" be an ouside chance for Ashes 2009 next July; personally I think Trescos internationally spent and hasn't played a Test since 2006ish.

  • Comment number 41.

    Good start from KP - and although I had reservations about bringing Harmison back, the side looked better with him in it.

    KP is obviously very `matey` with Harmy - he gives that away a little too much!! - but I hope he can also get the best out of him, when he's 6000 miles away and suffering from the sniff of Delhi Belly. That'll be a test of KP's captaincy.

    Can people stop calling for Rashid to be in the England side, and listen to the people who actually watch him on a regular basis. He is not progressing as people hoped, he is a wicket-take at county level, where people cannot play leggies so well, but bowls erratically. His runs are insufficient also for the ever slipping position he bats for Yorks. He isn't international standard... yet.

    We don't want to be blooding people in India. Stop the calls for bringing fresh faces like Denly, Rashid and Bopara and focus on the batsmen we have, and their experience of these situations. Look how poor Bopara faired in SL.

    With Prior hopefully returning, and also hopefully at 6 - the look of Cook, Strauss, Bell, Pietersen, Colly, Prior, Flintoff, Broad, Harmison, Anderson, Panesar plus Sidebottom looks a good bet, with Swann as the additional spinner where the pitch suggests. He can bat as well as Broad so could take his place on those wickets.

  • Comment number 42.

    Well considering how all the xenophobes reacted to Pattinson playing for England when he was actually born here, I doubt we will see Saqlain be in the thoughts for a tour place. A real shame as he would bring some instant quality to the side in the place of any other real standout candidates for Test level.

  • Comment number 43.

    Can't people see that Prior is a liability!
    His dropped catches and byes costs us matches and far out wieghs any batting contributions he makes.

    Catches win matches!

  • Comment number 44.

    Actually just checked, Saqlain played in the vilified ICL torunament so is therefore basically considered a cricketing leper and probably wont be allowed to tour India anyway! Nice thought whilst it lasted though :(

  • Comment number 45.


    Personally, I think the only way Rashid will benefit is to go the the next level, take a two test risk in India. Panesar wastn't test standard until blooded against the Ozzies in 2005. India IMO is a time to try a new 2nd spinners out. Certainly not WI/UK. Swann is not a prodigious spinners so should only play in ODI's, not test's

  • Comment number 46.

    #44 - yes, good point. A Pakistani ex-ICL player representing England..... doubt he'd make it through the airport in India!!!

  • Comment number 47.

    Harmison to tour again??? Mistake, I bet we will see a repeat of his homesickness if he does. Jones is a much better bet for the winter tour alongside Flintoff,Anderson,Sidebottom,Broad,Monty with KP himself providing 2nd spinner when needed and Colly the backup seamer. I would also take along an extra bowler well suited to Indian conditions (Hoggard?) and start rotating the seamers so that they dont get too tired as Sidebottom clearly has this summer, the heat of India saps everybody if they dont get sufficient recovery time between matches

  • Comment number 48.


    "Can't people see that Prior is a liability!
    His dropped catches and byes costs us matches and far out wieghs any batting contributions he makes.

    Catches win matches!"

    So do Runs and Wickets. Ambrose was presented with only 9 catches in 4 matches, ie about 2 per match, or 1/innings.

    So how many did Prior drop, less than a handful/series, thats the risk. Cook dropped 3 catches at gully, KP dropped one as did Monty, Collingwood a couple at slip. Should we drop all these. Currently if you choose Ambrose/Foster/Read- as specialist Wkt who might chip in 20-25/ innings; and Flintoff in the team; your options are to weaken the batting or bowling; or both if you choose 4 bowlers and 6/7 batsmen don't contribe (70) 35 ave each per innings. Adding Bopara at 6 takes away a specialist bowler/5 bowler strength as Bopara is a good stock bowling change, not an Anderson/Flintoff.

  • Comment number 49.

    Re: Support for Key. Possibly some of those in the "Key for England " camp would point to the County career of Marcus T prior to being called up for England. It wasn't spectacular, but Duncan F saw something in his play that made him believe that Tresco was cut out for international cricket - and boy was he right. He didn't appear to see a similar thing in Rob Key, however. His face didn't fit, and it seems that post DF, it may still not.

    I think part of Key's appeal is that he's good value when interviewed and would be far more likely to say what he thinks in answer to a question, rather than the approved answer from the "Team England" text book.
    For (as far as I am aware a not real!) example: In answer to a question about a poor run of form with the bat, you'd think he'd likely not trot out the usual "I feel in good nick, I'm sure I'm just one half-decent cover-drive away from being right back in form". He'd be much more likely to come out with something self-deprecating and, well, not to put too fine a point on it, honest!

    I think it's that sort of thing which is part of his appeal to those who advocate his inclusion. Doesn't make him a right selection , or a wrong selection. Just part of him.
    You probably all disagree with me anyway!

  • Comment number 50.


    I'm a journalism student going into my third year at university and will be doing my dissertation on how the media has shaped the game of cricket. I was wondering if I could field some questions to you through email on the subject as it is always good to have remarks/ comments from a leading broadcaster in the game like yourself. If you could help me it would be great and/or if you have contact details for someone else who
    you believe would be of use for my subject I would greatly appreciate it.

    Look forward to hearing from you

    Gareth Anstice

  • Comment number 51.


    I thought that TMS was in fine form at The Oval. A bit like England you recovered from some low points earlier in the summer! I look forward to the Limited Overs Internationals...

    I wish that I could find a way of listening to TMS in sync with Sky ( in my case on cable TV). TMS is always a split second or so ahead of the TV picture. I haven't found a way of cracking this yet!

  • Comment number 52.

    Bowlers win matches.

    Batsmen decide how much by.

    You cannot win a match unless you take twenty wickets. (well, I know it's possible and has happened, but it shouldn't really)

  • Comment number 53.

    As the next test side will be a touring side it will include extra players to see how they perform.KP being the captain and keen of introducing new talent to the test circus will ask for Rashid I think and one or two newcomers.As to who shouldnt go I would leave out Strauss,Ambrose. I cant see Vaughan playing in any test soon, maybe next year and then it will take a great deal of convincing the present coach thats for sure.I am convinced that despite what was said time and again that Harmison lost faith in the people who lost faith in him.He gets on well with KP as does Anderson and Broad-thats why all three will go to India and WI.I think also that both S.Jones and Sidebottom will tour.As to the Wicket keeper-toss a coin!!
    My preference would be Davies but most of the English keepers are much the same at the moment.Dont be surprised to see G.Jones in the frame as well.I can wait for Keiswetter from Somerset-now he is a class batsman in the making.

  • Comment number 54.

    Robius 3 - Swann is a big spinner of the ball, he does give it a real tweak, i know, i've watched him play at notts and for england enough times!

  • Comment number 55.


    this team IMO has good balance a top 7 all capable of big runs. plus a 5 man bowling attack which can acheive 20 wickets consistently.
    it would also involve many core players but would show that england under pietersen are different than under vaughan
    for the india tour maybe take collingwood with his good experience as batting cover, foster cud be priors cover as he deserves a chance if prior gets injured etc. rashid to me looks an awesome prospect so maybe he cud go as spin cover, simon jones is coming back well so he could go as fast bowling cover and then the final place as all rounder cover i think should go to bopara to show how the bowling has progressed as well as his superb batting.

  • Comment number 56.

    minty saliva

    Some good points made regards R.Key.
    I dont think Key is a bad player and Im sure there are probably greater players but like Tresco he was put into the test side to see how he got on.I think he was unlucky really because DF was looking to produce a team to beat Australia and a few good batsmen were tried and dropped without being given a chance to show what they were made of.The reason I would choose R.Key is that he has played test cricket and scored a double hundred and now a few years on he is captain of Kent and been very successful.Key I believe would be a stable opening partner for Cook who is under performing opening with Strauss.Strauss seems to be in world of his own and has lost confidence.I think TMS was saying that the average opening partnerships between Strauss and Cook was merely mid thirties not exactly what England need from openers.There may be other players good enough to play test cricket but openers to partner Cook may be far and few between.

  • Comment number 57.

    I think it is a huge myth that Indian batsmen are good players of spin. It may have been the case a couple of years back or so, but not any more.

    With the holy trinity Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly and the other test star Laxman almost relegated from the Indian set up, I am not so sure that the rest of the squad can stand up to some quality spin bowling. Having said that, by the time the English team tours India all these batsmen will be around and Indians are going to pile up some huge totals on the flat tracks. Monty Panesar is the only quality spinner in the English ranks, and taking anyone else is nothing more than a backup. Folks like Swann, Dalrymple, Rashid or anyone who is the latest flavour of the season are commonplace in India - they will be carted so big time around the park that Yuvraj's 6 sixers off Broad in one over will seem like a good deal - done and dusted in one over as opposed to being thrashed for a couple of days.

    Did someone say Saqlain or Mushtaq - you must be joking?

    It is hard for most batsmen to play good swing bowling and good spin bowling - no matter where you play or where you come from. So England should not get carried away by the Indian tour, but pick their best fast bowlers and best spin bowlers, as well as their best batsmen for the trip. Just take a look at how Mendis has destroyed the Indian batting this test series - a batting lineup that has put even Warne and Murali to shame for all these years. Which goes a far way to say that if you truly have a world-class spinner you should take him to India, or else just leave all the wannabes back at home.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    ahh wot a lot of postitive responce as useral hem hem. Well done england but i think that if we are going to beat Australia (which personally i think we should be more aiming for the next series down under because that would be soooooo satisfying) but anyway. England need to win all of there next few series before they can take on the mighty aussies. even though Australia arnt as good as they were in 2006/07. England need lots of work!!

  • Comment number 60.

    Comment No6 is right:

    Too much averageness - too many hiding places. Get a score and you are out of the last chance saloon - because your team mate has walked in! Really though there are too many questions over too many batsmen. Strauss? Bell? Collingwood? How about Key? Bopara? Shah? And Vaughan?! Boo Hiss! But from that list who would you rather deliver the goods when something serious was on it? Like, I don't know - a series win.

    Finally - with Freddie back and Stuart Broad looking like a real talent for the future giving a five man bowling attack and decent depth in batting - how about an out and out Wickkie? Chris Read!

  • Comment number 61.

    I think to win back the ashes we will have to win in India and convincingly win in WI and it may not be enough.

    What will be interesting is the back to back clashes of Aus and SA will there be a shift of power?

  • Comment number 62.

    I'm a big fan of Rashid, but i just hope he's not rushed into the England Squad as other young bowlers have been in recent years.

  • Comment number 63.

    S Jones

    Batsmen: 7

    This is the team

    It needs to be recognised that Broad is an all rounder, not a bowler. His batting is the strong point of his game and if played in a team like this then he can be used as a strike bowler, because when he bowls for sustained periods he starts to leak runs.

    If you don't like Ambrose then find someone else.

  • Comment number 64.

    Yeh, moan moan moan..

    We aren't Australia. You blokes on here couldn't bat with a piece of your mother's rhubarb so why do you protestesth so much.

    We won well today, but I am sure you moaners will still say that Cook should have got a hundred, that the sun doesn't strike England at the right angle.

    At least Kallis isn't English else the middle-class rotweilers would be at his neck because of his awful batting performance.

    Maybe every now and again we should pick some wally (with the biggest mouth) for England to show how difficult actually having skill is (rather than a beer belly).

  • Comment number 65.

    Crudeline.....Flintoff at 5 is even funnier than Broad at 6. On the assumption that God is on our side then fine, but blimey that team wont post 250+ ever.....unless KP comes off once in a while.

  • Comment number 66.

    The series averages are interesting. No English bowler averaged under 30 which surprised me-and no bowler took a five for.

    I thought England bowled better than that and if the pitch was more helpful they could have won at Lord's.

    Vaughan and Strauss clearly have poor averages. One is gone-surely the other has to go?

    Bring in Shah, Key and Joyce into the squad. Shah and Joyce may be having poor seasons but they have played good cricket over the eyars and deserve a chance. Shah performed well in India before and Joyce has scored a one day hundred v Australia.
    Bell needs to improve too.

    The bowling should be made up of
    Harmison, Flintoff, Anderson, Sidebottom, Panesar, Swann and Rashid.

    Give S Jones a winter off so that he is fresh for next summer.
    Mark Davies of Durham should be given a chance at some point.

    Prior and Steve Davies should be the wicketkeepers.

  • Comment number 67.

    Sunday afternoon apart, England showed they know how to bowl well. The batsmen still looked weak though. A five man bowling attack is clearly the way to go, and the batting lineup needs to step up and take some responsibility for giving their colleagues something to bowl at. I was impressed at how Strauss played when he was brought back in after being dropped, but recently he seems to have fallen back into the habits that got him dropped in the first place. The opening partnership need to be reaching 100 far more often than they are, bowling attacks know that if they stick the ball in the right place, they're pretty much guaranteed a wicket or 2 before we reach 60 on most days.

    Hopefully Pietersen will learn not to repeat the mistake of Sunday afternoon where De Villiers was allowed to score at will in an attempt to concentrate on Harris, especially once they'd taken the new ball, but overall I felt there were more positives than negatives to take from the game. Hopefully they'll kick on and build a challenging team in India over the winter.

  • Comment number 68.

    Yes, Harmison is back and we are all very pleased about it. That doesn't mean he will be bowling anything like we saw him at the Oval next time he lines up for a test in december.......
    Meanwhile the England bowling stats make pretty poor reading across the board, and we have dropped our most consistent bowler, Hoggard, for failing to get results in 1 or 2 games, and apparently with no way back into the side. If we are going back to Harmi and Flintoff, why not get Hoggard (and Jones?)back as well?
    Call me old fashioned.............

  • Comment number 69.

    This win may be in a dead rubber, but this win is much better than a defeat, which would have made the series a 3-0 thrashing.
    So, congrats England for salvaging something at the tail end of this series.
    The bowling looks decent now but batting remains a liability. Apart from KP, not even one batsman can be counted upon to come up with a big score. Strauss has failed too often to be given any more chances, Alistair Cook has gone back to being a rookie after looking like an accomplished batsman not too long ago, Bell has flattered to deceive and only Colly looks like he has really regained some form. As far as wicket keeping is concerned, pick the best keeper in the country based on how he does behind the stumps. Adam Gilchrist is a once in a life time phenomenon and there's not going to be another like him. So stop looking for the next Gilchrist and pick keepers for keeping alone.

  • Comment number 70.

    My feeling is that we are going to need to shake up the batting. Everyone apart from Pietersen is underperforming.

    The openers have both gone backwards this summer. Bell, whatever he thinks he is, is not yet a number three and is developing maddeningly slowly for such a gifted player.

    In the circumstances, we are probably left with no choice but the recall the best batsman amongst the keepers - Prior. It is a big risk though, because a keeper who can't be relied upon saps morale in a side.

    Unless Trescothick can be persuaded to return, I think we have to take a punt on a young opener and also back either Shah or Bopara. Of the two, I believe Shah is presently more likely to score runs in Test cricket. Who the opener is, goodness knows. Carberry might be worth a try.

  • Comment number 71.

    ha ha ha lol ha ha what a load of rubbish. kp comes in and wins a dead rubber that south africa played half heartidly he aint all that and strauss should be out aswell as broad and panesar who can spin but cant bat or field. adel rasheed should come in as spin as he can bat a bit too. bring in shah at number 3 and key instead of strauss. get saj mahmood or kabeer ali in and groomed for the ashes.

  • Comment number 72.

    What seemes more pointless is the schedule with india. Only 2 tests and 7 ODI's. Obv they'll say this is the precursor to the WI tour, but couldnt they combine the one dayers with the windies in a tri series?????

  • Comment number 73.

    Here we go again England lost the series but won a meaningless match.

    The same old problems remain unaddressed.

    1) Harmison. Yep when he's under no pressure he's a class bowler, but his temperament was suspect and we still are none the wiser as to whether he's improved it. When the pressure's on can he be trusted to deliver accurate hostile fast bowling? Would you bet your life on it?

    2) Panesar. Same goes for Monty on a pitch he knows is helpful he bowls well. But ask him to tie up an end with controlled accurate slow bowling and as he has shown in this series he CANNOT deliver. So the answer in a tight series? I don't think so.

    3) The batting. All the 5 specialist batsmen gave their wickets away regularly in tight situations. They lack the discipline and temperament in crucial pressure situations. And they CANNOT claim 'lack of experience'. Its lack of true test class.

    4) Wicket keeper?????? We're no further forward here either.

    Which brings me to the coaching staff and the selectors...what are they being paid for? It certainly isn't results or progress or providing talented cricketers with the mental and emotional strength to play test cricket.

    Can you imagine any successful soccer manager putting up with the sort of ineptitude that the England players have displayed repeatedly this summer?

    I can't.

    I'd keep Cook (although the Aussies gave him a hard time in Aus), I'd bring Vaughan in to open . Bell at 3, then KP at 4. 5 Owais Shah. Flintoff at 6. Foster as Keeper. Broad, Jones, Harmison (or Anderson if its not a quick bouncy wicket) and Panesar.

    Although the last 3 don't inspire confidence at all. You'd never know what you'd get.

    As opposed to Lee, Clarke, Symonds and Tait. Which attack would you rather have?

  • Comment number 74.

    a win is a win- thats the point. i dont care about 'dead games'- imagine we'd lost it. lets be happy . Im not sure about KP but ive gotta get behind him. i suppose the main things he posesses are talent and amazing self belief and you need these things.
    with regards to the team: i like strauss but i think he needs to sit out a series and go and play elsewhere overseas. he needs to rediscover his form. my worry is panesar- his fielding and batting are unacceptable which should not be the case in the modern era. his bowling is not exciting but he still must go to india where, contrarily, i think he will take wickets but i think it will be a
    flash in the pan. my india test team:

  • Comment number 75.

    It may have been a "meaningless" game but it's something we need to build on. In India I would go with:


    With the other 7 of an 18-man squad being:


    (Don't actually know if its 18, it might be just a 16-man squad)

  • Comment number 76.

    i think england should stick with the one spinner as that is our strength in pace bowling. we need panesar to perform better than he did against south africa though if we wanna beat the indians. rashid should come though just in case though. our team should be in my opinion.

    Pietersen (c)
    Prior (w)
    Sidebottom/ S.Jones.
    Andersen/ Rashid

    Robert Key, Owais Shah, or Ravi Bopara are the options for batting call ups. i would pick Key at the front as he has the best technique out of them

  • Comment number 77.

    "Harmison's recall has had a dramatic effect - not necessarily in terms of wickets ..."

    This says it all about Harmy ... isn't he great even though he doesn't take wickets ...?


  • Comment number 78.

    I just read that Pietersen "set his sights on Ashes". That is too funny. Really, made my day.

    It is either KP does not know what he is talking about, or the media is just making that the headline to get some eyeballs.

    Either way, it is meaningless to talk about the Ashes.

    All they have done is win a dead rubber. But I do believe they played well. They went back to their winning formula. England is best with Harmison and Flintoff firing. And in the second innings the openers at least looked like scoring.

    But keep this victory in perspective. It is only one test in a dead rubber. Ashes are several months away and there are tough tours before that. Please do not start saying in the media that KP is the best player since "...", some old English captain so many several years ago that very few people on this thread would have even heard his name. Thanks.

  • Comment number 79.

    England must make sure they have enough batting. Look how many runs DeVilliers got at number six, and consider the performances of other number sixes such as Laxman, Symonds, Dilshan. It is absurd that England seem to want to be different to every other country and play ony five batsmen.

  • Comment number 80.

    The selectors got this series oh so wrong .... maybe we'll see a big difference now Vaughan is not picking the team with his good buddy Giles ??? hopefull KP will stand up for the way he wants tp play and play the lads who deserve to play and not the jobs for the boys approach thats been the norm !!!!
    Well done Harmy but i bet he's bricking it about being picked to go to India, on a plane and over water and everything... Leave him here and take Jones instead.
    Monty needs to learn some variation and to stop appealling like he's in court and just practice the basics with the bat he's becoming quite annoying
    and as for KP talking up the ashes ? ffs we've got to play the indians 1st and from what i've seen of England recently (and thats a lot) we dont want to bring the aussies on any time soon as we'd get another aussie backhanded slap in the chops ... I wittnesses a 5-0 kicking in Oz i dont want to see another slapping any time soon.

  • Comment number 81.

    I truly hope that KP does not make the same post game mistakes as Vaughan so regularly did. Stop "taking the positives" and be honest about ability and how the team is playing. KP has already said that the Ashes can be regained if England play with the same spirit that they did against SA. What a load of rubbish. England played so much better in the final test, primarily because of Harmison and his hostile spells. The batting is still however very weak and the bowling attack is inconsistent. Importantly, SA have clearly not played in this series as they would have hoped (but still won) and the test that England won was a meaningless rubber that did not include Steyn. It is of course important, but stop talking such rubbish about beating Australia with "spirit".

  • Comment number 82.

    The English bowlers lack the accuracy to put pressure on batsmen.

    Look at Australia's Clarke and McGrath. Over after over they put six balls on the spot.

    This means that they themselves have more chance of a wicket, but, importantly, also means that the strike bowler at the other end has a far greater chance of striking with even a loose ball, let alone a corker.

    Stop an agressive player scoring and you will take his wicket sooner rather than later.

  • Comment number 83.

    What's the point of playing Collingwood as a batting allrounder if he's not used to bowl a single ball? There are better specialist batsmen available for selection.

    It's time to give Prior, Read or Foster another go behind the stumps too. Ambrose just isn't producing the goods which forces England to play Flintoff at No 6 which is too high.

    Strauss is a liability too

    Get those 3 positions resolved and you've got a half decent side developing.

  • Comment number 84.


    Why on earth should Prior come back. He has proven that he is not good enough as an international keeper, however good a batsman he might be. It seems to me we're getting deluded by Adam Gilchrist. He was unique, and we have noone like him. We should be aiming for a Mark Boucher - someone who can keep well, bat at 7, and ideally average 30 or more. IMO it has to be Read or Foster.

    If Prior comes back, what odds will you give me that he drops any of Hayden, Ponting, Hussey on a low score and they go on to score 221 (deja vue with Jayawardene) ?

  • Comment number 85.

    Reply to 83

    Yes, I agree with you about Collingwood not bowling. Didn't he initially get into the team partly on the strength of his bowling?

    And Monty doesn't bowl enough.

  • Comment number 86.

    dave expat

    Well.we can all see you dont approve of the England set up-perhaps thats why your an ex-pat? To answer your comment regards the Batsmen.KP, is according to the world rankings 4th best batsman in the world so dont know what your talking about there?Also any FA football manager wouldnt have to worry about choosing an a team which included potential England players because most sides dont have any potential England players in them-they are all foreign-which I would guess is why our football team is pretty poor!Thats also the reason its hard to find potential English test players in cricket-counties are just interested in making money so they bring in as many foreign test players as possible to attract crowds-youngsters dont get a look in.Those that do cant make a living in cricket anymore and just give it up.At least our football players dont have that problem!They get paid very well to be losers!.

  • Comment number 87.

    Please think twice about ditching batsmen with real talent. We have done this before and (whilst it is impossible to prove) we failed to get the best years from other batsmen in the past e.g. Ramps, Robin Smith and Hick. In contrast, I can remember players such as Amiss and Woolmer being dropped, working on their technique and returning to the fold and being very successful. The same thing happened to some of our seamers- late maturing. Even Gooch was dropped before returning with massive success. Cook and Bell are still quite young. It is very disappointing that Bell has not made more big scores. When I watch him, I really think he has great technique and we should not see this player go to waste. Whether he should be dropped or not, I don't know. The management need to be convinced about his appetite professionalism etc.

    Cook has a great temprament and I would bet that he will be the first to start looking at why he has not gone on to achieve bigger scores.

    Of other possibles,- I saw Key's big hundred against the West Indies a few years ago and I personally thought it was a bit rustic.

    Shah looks quite classy.
    Bopara looks explosive but with KP and Freddie in the side I think that we need some 'glue' in the middle order; which is probably why Collingwood will keep his place now he has found some form.

  • Comment number 88.

    England test averages for the whole seven match summer:

    Player Mat Inns NO Runs Ave 100 50
    KP Pietersen 7 11 0 607 55 3 1
    SJ Harmison 1 2 1 49 49 0 0
    SCJ Broad 6 7 1 280 47 0 3
    AJ Strauss 7 11 0 446 41 1 3
    AN Cook 7 11 0 443 40 0 5
    PD Collingwood 6 9 2 264 38 1 1
    IR Bell 7 11 0 377 34 1 1
    A Flintoff 3 6 2 113 28 0 0
    MP Vaughan 6 9 0 240 27 1 0
    TR Ambrose 7 9 0 167 19 0 1
    JM Anderson 7 8 3 91 18 0 0
    RJ Sidebottom 5 6 2 52 13 0 0
    DJ Pattinson 1 2 0 21 11 0 0
    MS Panesar 7 8 1 12 2 0 0

    Player Mat Inns Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Ave
    RJ Sidebottom 5 10 214 60 542 23 24
    JM Anderson 7 13 276.5 54 876 34 26
    MS Panesar 7 12 260.1 53 657 22 30
    SJ Harmison 1 2 43 12 133 4 33
    A Flintoff 3 5 123 31 328 9 36
    SCJ Broad 6 12 201.2 37 697 15 46
    DJ Pattinson 1 2 30.1 2 96 2 48
    KP Pietersen 7 6 21.3 1 73 1 73
    AN Cook 4 1 1 0 1 0 ---
    PD Collingwood 6 7 25 7 74 0 ---

  • Comment number 89.

    Harmison should play ODIs where they are a warm up to tests. We need a fit and firing Harmison. We can't afford to do without him or have the rubbish version.

  • Comment number 90.

    reply to 89

    goforjugular, I agree that Harmison should play ODI's.

    Is the white ball more difficult to grip than the red, or was this just loss of confidence?

  • Comment number 91.

    Still a few people missing Hoggard and I don't blame them. A good bowler and team player but he has lost a yard of pace. It seems he has to take new ball wickets or his other spells offer little. Jimmy A has let no-one down, in fact he would be my player of the summer (barring KP) for his consistency and commitment. He will bowl worse and get wickets, he had little luck at times. His fielding is brilliant and he has shown guts with the bat. The top order is a worry as Strauss in particular has no presence at the crease because he's had to cut out his favourite shots due to teams finding him out. Its also important that Bell makes a success of the number 3 spot if KP and Moores insist on Freddie at No6 (not convinced myself).

  • Comment number 92.

    Yes, 91, Anderson has been a top player all round this summer. An asset in the field and a gutsy performance with the bat.

    It seems churlish to ask for more, but I wish that he was just that bit more consistent. You can't help feeling that too many balls are just a bit too wide of off stump. Of course he isn't alone in this.

    Anyway, well done James Anderson. And thank you.

  • Comment number 93.

    Hmm. Well, so far so good. Good to see England win at last and morale going up. But as everyone has pointed out, S.A. weren't really fully focussed, as they had already won the series. Frankly I don't like the man and think he should never have been made captain, but Pietersen did show some signs of increased responsibility and team-spirit. I think we will have to wait and see what happens in the ODI's before we can know if things will work out. Above all, now England's bowling seems to be coming together again (though I have my doubts about Panasar), the crucial thing is to get some DISCIPLINE and CONSISTENCY in the England batting - without that we will have no chance against Australia.

  • Comment number 94.

    Can every one please stop giving england so much credit. They played well but if SA had of been playing 100%(played about 50%) they probably would have rolled over england even without one of the world best bowlers(Steyn). Lets be honest SA were laughing in the field when they threw overthrows and when morkel bowled bad balls.

    Somebody above mentioned that england could challenge to be no.1 in world in the next few years but with a batting and bowling attack which is inconsistent i don't think they have any chance. SA are a really good side but not great so i can't see them challenging for the no.1 either. The Aussies still looked strong in the West Indies even without Hayden, Symonds and a spinner. Honestly i think England will struggle to win their next few series against (India, West Indies, Sri Lanka and the Aussies) so i doubt they will get to no.1.

    Also everyone is asking to bring back Tresco and Jones what else do you want Giles, Vaughan, G. Jones and Hoggard so we can have the team of 2005. S.Jones will come back but every one who is asking for Tresco is just ridiculous he said he wouldn't play test cricket again.

    Joking aside for India i would have


    It gives the team more options when bowling and when batting it freshens it up a bit. India won't have seen much of Key, Shah, Bopara or Rashid so it will give an element of suprise. All of the people on these blogs suggest to make all these changes but the selectors will go on what they seen in the 4th test which is totally wrong. The selectors will probably only make one change and that will be Prior(If he has a good series in the ODIs) for Ambrose.

  • Comment number 95.

    It makes me laugh when people complain about the poor selection and then pick a team which is virtually indentical to what we currently have.

    The biggest problem for England's batting this summer has been an ineffective batsman at number 3 which meant that the first wicket was quickly followed by a second, and this always put pressure on the batsmen that came next.

    Key will not get in this side because he isn't good enough. His average this season is 36. I'd like to see Shah or Bopara given another chance.

    Looking at the averages for the whole of summer (comment 88) the worst batsman - apart from Vaughan - has been Bell. He's also the batsman I'm least confident about, especially batting at 3. If there are changes, I think it should be Bell who goes. Keep the rest of the batting line up and see how they do in India.

  • Comment number 96.

    Vulnerable batsmen:

    Bell- a big ton and little else. Lacks concentration?

    Strauss- never really looked fluent against Saffers. Might get easy runs in Caribbean but possibly past his best

    Collingwood- one big innings in a lost game. Had Virgil not walked, he'd have almost certainly missed India. I still wouldn't take him.

    Cook- predictable, but England may have to settle for a 60 in nearly every game...

    I'd stick with Bell and Cook who can improve 10%, maybe.

  • Comment number 97.

    A couple of things Kevin has said about the test side have stood out for me. His use of the word unit about the bowlers says a lot about his thinking. He must now look for a batting unit and, with his desire to have Freddie at 6, he must be thinking of an additional frontline batsmen - possibly changing the opening partnership. So why not make the best of our left-right combos and have Cook, Key, Vaughan, Strauss and KP, with Collingwood making way (he'll play a big, big role in the one day side), along with Bell (who will stay in the squad).
    Some points to note:
    This is dropping our best batsman down a slot but it may suit KP with the captaincy and tests are won when tons come from the top 4 - Is KP imagining him and Freddie coming to the crease at 300 for 3 (yes pleeease)?
    I like Strauss at 4 as he is experienced enough to dig in after early wickets, yet is less exposed to the pitched-up hard new ball - a recent blot on his technique.
    Bell could get the nod in India if Vaughan's not ready and he needs to convince KP he is mentally up for the Aussies.
    He may make the side anyway if Key doesn't justify his wide-ranging support.

  • Comment number 98.

    Re Simon Jones - would be great to have his pace and reverse swing ability back, but has he really got over his injury problems?

    Worcestershire have been nursing him this season, and he has now withdrawn from the England Lions series with a hamstring problem. Surely, he's too much of an injury risk for India.

    As far as the wicketkeeper position is concerned, why are we so tied up with a wicketkeeper who can score runs a la Adam Gilchrist? There aren't any. Gilchrist was a one off, and the sooner we accept that and move on the better.

    In any case, why should we have to rely on a keeper to score runs - surely that's the batsmens function. If they aren't good enough to post 400+ regularly, why blame Tim Ambrose for only averaging 20 odd?! Imo, he has kept wicket perfectly adequately.

    OK, he's not the best, I still consider Chris Read to be by far and away the best keeper and it is a scandal he hasn't played more fo the test team because of this fixation with a keeper scoring sackfuls of runs. Foster is a good alternative as well.

    However, the selectors won't have the guts to pick Read for fear of upsetting the Indians who appear to the Vladimir Putin's of the cricket world. For Georgia, read the ICL, the 2020 tournament et al.

    But he should be there. Prior was not, is not and never will be a test keeper - whilst he may score a few runs (the Aussies would soon find him out), his keeping is so error strewn, he would gift tons of runs to the opposition withthe number of fumbles and missed chances. Don't even consider him.

    If there is to be a test squad of 16, here goes:


    Middle order:

    All rounders




  • Comment number 99.

    I just can't stop laughing at all the pundits here selecting Harmison/Jones for 2 away test in India.

    Do research on the featherbed bed wickets of Bradborne, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad. These are low and slow 79mph knee height sandtracks. Kensington Oral or Old Trafford they aren't.

    Please people do your pitch research.

    England are going to have to pick 2 spinners/ game from Panesar /Swann /Rashid and look at

    Sdebottom (back fit with nip), Anderson, Broad, with Flintoff; must be the sensible Indian bowling choices.

    Harmison should go off to South Africa to do some winter bowling on better pitches

  • Comment number 100.

    It would be great if we had a few more "in yer face" brilliant players, but we haven't. And we won't find them if we don't give a few more players a chance. I am all for guys being given a good run to prove themselves, but the batsmen are in a total comfort zone of mediocrity.
    Ian Bell has had a VERY LONG chance to prove himself, and should really have stepped it up a level by now.
    Cook can be forgiven his foibles as he is still young and has plenty going for him. Strauss's best years are behind him, yet there is such a reluctance to give someone new a chance.
    It looks like Ambrose is on the way out, but I can see that people will very quickly get sick of Prior again if he drops a few.
    I feel sorry for Broad at the moment - he is an all rounder but apparently it is only acceptable for him to be a bowling all rounder and not a batting all rounder! His average against SA was only bettered by Pietersen and Collingwood! Freddy is batting in the position of a batting all rounder when he clearly isn't! There are no guarantees that Broad would perform up the order, but how will we ever find out if we don't try? Surely we could pick a keeper like Foster at 8 for the purists, with Flintoff/Broad at 6/7?
    The Oval test was a real chance to give a few likely lads a chance with the series lost, but I suppose events with the captaincy were enough to deal with.


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