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Bold Pietersen puts faith in Flintoff and Harmison

Jonathan Agnew | 14:00 UK time, Wednesday, 6 August 2008

In announcing this 11 for The Oval - and its batting order in particular - Kevin Pietersen has already made his own statement.

Only two matches ago at Headingley, Michael Vaughan said Andrew Flintoff's future lay in batting at number seven - regardless of the balance of the team.

Now Pietersen has very obviously promoted his all-rounder, with the ringing endorsement that he has great faith in him.

KP also made the point that he and Peter Moores, the coach, are "singing from the same hymn sheet", a reference, no doubt, to the widely held belief that they have not always done so recently.

It does appear to have a better balance, but the key question is whether Flintoff is still suited to batting and scoring runs consistently at number six, and whether the move was made in order to protect Tim Ambrose, who looked out of his depth in that position at Headingley.


Certainly Stuart Broad's return to bat at eight adds depth to the batting line-up, and from what I saw from Steve Harmison bowling in the nets today, Pietersen should have some real firepower to aim at the South African batsmen.

It is also worth noting that in playing five bowlers, Pietersen has been given more options which should assist his inexperience in the field, and this also gives Harmison some cover so he can, hopefully, run in and bowl free of tension.

Graeme Smith had some fascinating observations to pass on. We must appreciate, of course, that it suits him to make Pietersen's first match in charge as difficult as possible.

But his remark that Pietersen can continue to bat as he likes "until he bumps his head" caught my attention.

What he meant was that all will be well until KP gets out playing a switch hit, or going for glory on 94. What would the reaction be not merely from the crowd and media, but from his players within the dressing room? Only time will tell.

Pietersen revealed that he called a team meeting on Tuesday in which every player was allowed his say. The most striking thing he wanted us all to notice from now, he told me, is the pride and passion his players will show representing their country.

At first glance, you would expect England cricketers always to be fiercely proud and patriotic, but they play so much these days that Pietersen clearly felt that everyone needed a reminder.

As always, though, his team will not be judged on words but on action - and especially, in this case, on how well they bat.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Might as well give Harmy another go, if he is in form, a final chance for him to prove he's still got something to offer.

    We'll see if Freddy, Ambrose and Broad can provide enough lower-middle-order runs, or if a different keeper-batsmen coming in at six is the way forward?

    Hope England go out and give SA a hard time, make them work for runs and wickets and show some more fight.

    We've really struggled against top opposition in the last couple of years. Can we ever regain our position amongst the top teams?

  • Comment number 2.

    I think this is a fantastic line up. Broad should be in the squad as a batsman who bowls, and Harmison has looked deadly recently. I'm glad Pietersen has had the courage to push Fred up the batting order and give Bell more responsibility - hopefully this pays off. For my money I'm glad we have a positive Captain; Vaughan was a fantastic servant to his country and will be sadly missed but I think Pietersen will take us in a bold, exciting new direction. Let's hope we win!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Another good article - but i would of liked your thoughts on why we appear to have dropped sidebottom, the man currently sitting on top of the english averages! If it is to give him a break, as this is a dead rubber, why has nobody reported this?? Everyone goes on about balance, but surely a quality left arm bowler only adds to this??

  • Comment number 4.

    For too long, the bowling attack have been asked to pick up the pieces of the batsmen's fragility. Hopefully this is a statement of intent that this will no longer be tolerated.

  • Comment number 5.

    I still can't understand why Ambrose is batting ahead of Broad.

    Ambrose to me looks like a walking wicket - even the shots he connects with and gets to the rope look like he was lucky to make contact.

    Broad, on the other hand, looks as comfortable as anyone in our line-up facing either fast or slow bowlers.

    Flintoff should be in at 6 - he has the quality and is capable of making big runs - he just needs a bit of confidence and time to find himself at Test level again.

    Bell at 3 feels similar to Pietersen as captain - it could be brilliant, though it could be catastrophic. He doesn't play well under pressure, but perhaps there's less chance of the team being really under the kosh with 1 down, as opposed to 3 down. What I mean is, I would say being 1-1 is not as bad as 20-3.

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree with Neilburge in that this is a much better looking line up than we've had recently. I'm still not convinced by Ambrose though and I think he'll be the next one to be moved out of the squad.

    As for Sidebottom being rested, I think he looked tired in the last test and didn't have the edge he had last year or even in the New Zealand tests earlier this year - a good move to replace him with Harmison. There's nothing wrong with a bit of squad rotation.

    I think KP will do well - there'll be a different buzz on the pitch for the 4th test and I think it will work in England's favour. Let's hope so anyway.

  • Comment number 7.

    "Bell at 3 feels similar to Pietersen as captain - it could be brilliant, though it could be catastrophic. He doesn't play well under pressure"

    He has made 9 test match 50s at number 3 so hopefully he can build on this and finally establish himself as a senior player by scoring 100s in this position. The key is that he has always said that he wants to bat 3, so now is his chance to prove he can do it.

  • Comment number 8.

    To Blog 3 'ShortLegLongArms', I believe it was said after Edgebaston that Sidebottom was carrying an injury, maybe the same one that caused him to miss out earlier in the series. Watching from here in Oman on satelite TV he looked very laboured in the second innings and nowhere near his usual pace.

    May be wrong though!!

  • Comment number 9.

    The selectors have missed a chance to blood at least one new player but they obviously want the win above all else at this stage before the one-dayers so Bopara is unlucky but will surely get his chance then.

    After this test will Harmison be mothballed as he is not worth a place on the winter tour?

    Only to be brought back next season to terrorise the Aussies?

  • Comment number 10.

    Cheers 'evergreenhorn' - if he needs to get his feet up then fair enough.... Just wish the media would report the full picture sometimes.... As a fit sidebottom definately needs to be in the team, as his record since his comeback has been outstanding....

  • Comment number 11.

    Yep Aggers, good line up; for missing the extra batter gaining Harmison on the Oval track is the better balance for the ground, Monty (with Colly)being a good insurance if its a too good track to lets the quicks take wickets, and if big score/innings/5th day are in the offing.

    I don't know if the Oval wicket still has lively bounce like Old Trafford that lets the batsmen know Harmison/Broad/Fred/Jamie Anderson are around. Do you know if the pitch might be lively Aggers? Perhaps leaving Sidebottom out suggests Moores/Pietersen think the Oral will bounce and be quick.

    The batting effectively goes down to 8 with Broad, and even Anderson has shown he can handle a bat as nightwatchman. Bell to No3 is a good move.

    My only dissappointment is Simon Jones isn't in the squad or side for this match, possibly at the expense of Monty for this match. I would really have loved to seen 5 quicks steaming in at 85-90mph for this match. One can,t have everything.

  • Comment number 12.

    I would not be surprised to see Steve Harmison have a very good test match, if there is any pace left in this Oval wicket he will have a good game, he always does when there is some pace on offer, a la Adelaide in the last Ashes.

    The place of Tim Ambrose (who I feel sorry for) though seems odd, the inclusion of Broad, Ambrose and Flintoff does protect the fact that none of them on current form is a test six. I've seen people saying bat Broad at six, but as talented as he is, there is still no first class century there which should be a prerequisite to being a batsman, there can't be many batsman who bowl a few good spells but never take a five wicket haul who get lauded as potential first change Test match bowlers. Though my point is if England are conceeding the point there isn't a keeper batsman out there (Prior just isn't good enough behind the stumps) why choose Ambrose? His batting average isn't that bad, look at Boucher's for instance, but since New Zealand gifted him that hundred its been on the slide. Maybe he deserves the series to prove himself.

    Hopefully with Pietersen as captain, who himself needs time here we can have the best keeper, and from what I've seen over the last two years it has to be James Foster, his batting is competent in my view to be a Test seven and he can maybe get you a wicket you were not expecting (his work standing up is fantastic). I hope England take Foster on their winter tours with the impressive Scott of Middlesex going on the 'A' tour.

    Surely it is written though. Pietersen first ever international game South Africa he scored a century, first test against South Africa, and I've seen Amla call it destiny that Pietersen's first game as captain is against South Africa, well if there is indeed such a thing as destiny, surely a match winning hundred by Pietersen is almost certain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Glad to see some sanity restored in the team selection - if we are to compete against the Saffers in this test, through the WIndies series and onto the Ashes, we have to have a balanced team of five batsmen and five bowlers, at least one or two of the latter being able to handle a bat, and a wicketkeeper/batsman.

    I would personally have brought back Prior for Tiny Tim, had him in at 6 and left Freddie at 7, but it gives KP options to use in trying to get 20 wickets in the match. I also think Simon Jones should be carefully considered for the next Test series as reports of his performances for Worcs have been good and, on his day, he is a match winner.

    The key will be if the top five get enough runs for the bowlers to defend. Bell has got his wish of batting at number 3 in the order - now the most technically accomplished of English batsmen needs to post some big scores.

    Overall, a promising XI which will, hopefully, be tinkered with over the winter to give KP a really tight unit to take on the Aussies.

  • Comment number 14.

    This side shows positive intent BUT:

    Bopara should've played instead of Collingwood. Bopara is a techincially better and more dynamic batsman. Also, Collingwood never bowls in tests, whereas Bopara is a handy medium pacer. This gives further options. Note that Collingowwod at 5 means he is being judged solely as a batsman. He'd better perform or go.

    Flintoff at 6 is not the answer. Technically he isn't - and never has been - good enough, particularly against spin. They have had to play him there because the selectors have insisted on picking Ambrose again (what better time could there have been to have a look at Matt Prior again?). Flintoff at 6 is a pragantic intermim solution, but let's hope Ambrose is replaced by Prior ASAP. Then Prior can bat at 6, with Flintoff/Broad at 7.

    As for Broad, yes, he has enormous potential, but I'd still rather see him rotate in and out of the squad for a while, as Flintoff's understudy if you like. Longer term, the #7 slot is his. But his bowling, whilst less penetrating, is too similar to Flintoff's and Harmison's. He is tall, hits the deck etc. He can swing it too, but we need the likes of S. Jones with his reverse swing and Anderson/Hoggard/Sidebottom to get proper movement in the air. (Good that Siders has been rested. We all need a break now and gain. God knows I do.)

    Lastly, Monty. He's been keeping quiet of late, in many ways. But his performances recently aren't anything to write home about. He too can be rested, allowed to "spend more time with his county". We should have played Rashid and seen how he performs. What we do know is that unlike a certain Mr Panesar he is an excellent bat (test #8) and a reasonable fielder too.

    I predict an overwhelming England win ... KP centuries in both innings.

    Cough cough.

  • Comment number 15.

    By replacing Vaughan with a bowler; and using both Flintoff and Broad.. .both the batting and the bowling have been made weaker. It is diffcult to see how this team can win, even a dead rubber.

  • Comment number 16.

    I PREDICT THE FUTURE! I know he’s not even tossed up let alone made a field placing or changed the bowling yet but in my gut I can’t help feeling just a little bit worried about the next few months for English cricket. I say next few months because I can see into the future and I will predict what will happen – I’ve seen it before. It will all be OK in the end I promise…

    Firstly, was KP appointed by the same selection committee that thought it was a good idea to select poor old Darren Pattinson? Of course he was and we all know how well that went! Therefore how much credibility do the selectors have? I do of course appreciate that the selectors will have learnt from their first mistake and so we can rest assured that in their grand plan they wouldn’t make such a serious mistake again. Would they?

    Internationally I think we may have conceded a little ground in the credibility stakes! Not because he’s a South African – that makes no difference his mother is English so it’s not an issue. No, it’s more to do with how seriously we take our cricket. Just look for a moment at how seriously the Australian’s take their cricket and plan ahead and then think about the level of success they have achieved and maintained over recent years – they publically groom their next line of management – we all know that Michael Clarke will be the next Australian captain and he’ll probably be a very good one as well – why don’t we do something a bit like that?

    So what will happen over the next 12 months – I’ll tell you, this is what is going to happen.

    KP will lead England to a moral boosting win at the Oval this week and a new dawn will be heralded. He will bat aggressively but with responsibility and Harmison will do a Devon Malcolm. All is rosey in the garden.

    KP will then lead the team to India - we’ll lose I’m afraid 1-0. Predictably there will be rumblings of discord between the captain and the coach. Strauss will be the top scorer and Broad will find his bowling boots. But there is worse to come in the West Indies (who have been getting better and better over the last couple of years).

    The West Indies will win their first series against a proper test playing nation for the first time in ages. KP’s own form will deteriorate and there will be further discord and unrest. Harmison will fly home half way through the series sighting homesickness. Cook will top score and we’ll all be wishing that Hoggard was still around (not to mention Tresco, oh please come back Tresco your country needs you, more now than ever before it is the right time for you to come return to provide the team with backbone and sausages!).

    So the team returns shattered and broken, KP is unfortunately a shadow of his former self, riddled with responsibility and self doubt, his press conferences will have a bit of the Cantona about them and the media will have sharpened it’s pencils. Meanwhile the Mighty Australians will march into the country destroying everything in their path. We will begin the Ashes with KP in-charge of course but he will be out for a golden duck trying to get off the mark with 6 at Lords – where the members will turn their heads away in shame as he walks back into the changing rooms, the silence will be deafening – KP will sensationally resign half was through the match and Strauss will pick up the reigns for the rest of the game. It gets better here because our lord and hero Michael of Vaughan will be reinstated in his rightful position as “Captain of England” – he will unite the team and KP will re-find his form. KP will singlehandedly destroy the Australian bowling attack – he will be pomp and swagger, the ego has returned and the country will rejoice. He will break bats and records along the way. Meanwhile, Michael will led the team with a smile, with guile, intelligence and fresh enthusiasm from his winter break where he will have been working with the Government to sort out and bring an end to the Credit Crunch. Long live the King.

    Mark my words that is what will happen, it is written!

  • Comment number 17.

    seeingthefuture ... I was buying into all this, quite enjoying it really (no need to pay for that Sky sub) until I got this:

    "KP is unfortunately a shadow of his former self, riddled with responsibility and self doubt"

    KP, self doubt? Don't be mad. If it doesn't all go swimmingly than he'll have already headed off on his 'KP 20/20 tour' one man takes on the world.

  • Comment number 18.

    Crystal ball stuff is pie in the sky.

    You can't predict injuries, selections or mega feats!

  • Comment number 19.

    All of the interest is in the England team, of course.
    The South Africans will be going strongly to put us back in the box. This is a very capable unit which may well be highly motivated, by the presence of a new captain, to "rub noses in the dirt". The best bet available is Kallis to score 100+. May as well get something out of the match.
    Good news is the weather forecast is iffy. KP may be unbeaten by next week.

  • Comment number 20.

    Seeingthefuture - brilliant, just brilliant! :-)

  • Comment number 21.

    Bad start for the new captain. No other test team fails to play its best SIX batsmen.

    And, Harmison? Bizarre.

  • Comment number 22.

    To 'ShortLegLong Arms', agree with you totally about Sidebottom - but not if he's running in lame and bowling like I used to do. Hope no one at Northallerton CC is reading this!

    To 'Seeingthefuture', a great thesis but what about a pedolo or similar incident in the West Indies too? Or being found by a tabloid newspaper sleeping with an ex 'Miss Barbados'?

    Thought I would spice it up a bit. LIfe here in Oman can need spicing up at times, you guys are my only chance!

  • Comment number 23.

    Team looks ok but prior should be in for ambrose flintoff down to 7.

    Maybe collingwood is batting to high as he is an allrounder!!! not a main batter!!!

    1 Strauss
    2 Cook
    3 Bell
    4 KP
    5 ........ (not an alrounder)
    6 Prior
    7 freddie
    8 broad
    9 harmy
    10 anderson
    11 panisar?

    any comments

  • Comment number 24.

    Whilst I applaud the bold selection strategy, I feel – as other posters I think have – that this is an opportunity missed. Whatever the result of this test match (and, incidentally, I expect a rain-affected draw) I’m not sure what by way of insight the new selections add. Dead rubbers allow experimentation, surely. After all, a series is lost whether it is lost 2-0 or 3-0 (then again, it matters to KP in terms of his debut result).

    I agree with the Harmison inclusion, but wonder whether the stage wasn’t set for Bopara, Shah and Jones to have an outing. Maybe Collingwood’s century has, oddly, denied the selectors the opportunity to drop him for Bopara, or, rather, given them the excuse they needed not to drop him. The fact remains, however, that whatever balance is or isn’t struck in this match has little relevance for the next test match in India where they’ll most likely be changes again in the bowling line-up. Whatever team was picked, it was only ever going to act as a stop gap till then.

  • Comment number 25.

    Thanks Aggers. But can't you comment on the announcement that Sky will have all live cricket for the next five years, thus jeopardizing our beloved game (young people won't see live cricket, and this won't get interested enought to play)? This really is the elephant in the room, which isn't getting much media coverage - help!

  • Comment number 26.

    Just listening to the Aggers-Graeme Smith interview.

    Aggers - do you really HAVE to mention KP getting out on 94 absolutely EVERY time you're on air or on a blog??

    So he's aggressive/impulsive/cavalier - so what????!! It's a style that has made him easily the best English batsman of the moment. Leave him alone and allow him to get on with forging a career which already far outshines yours and also many of the other 'experts' on TMS.

    The biggest mistake that someone with Kevin Pietersen's mental make-up could make is to play against type.

  • Comment number 27.

    I hope this finally puts to rest the argument whether flintoff can bat at 6.

    I personally dont think he can and has proved it on many many occasions at both county and international level but perhaps he will surprise me.

    What is a fair average to ask of him ???

    I applaud the inclusion of Harmison he has gone back to his county and done all that has been asked of him,i wouldn't have chosen him in front of sidebottom but i believe from what i saw he is carrying an injury and was far from his best.

    We have to be able to take 20 wkts to win a test match number of runs to get them is secondary until you do.

  • Comment number 28.

    I was actually just looking at the stats from the 2005 ashes on cricinfo and (taking into account halcyon days, rose-tinted spectacles, harping on about the past etc, etc) - they emphatically prove that Flintoff CAN hold his own as a test match no.6.

    402 runs at an average of 40, with 3 x 50s and 1 x 100 against the best team in the world is plenty good enough at no.6, particularly when the bloke bowls how he does too.

    Surely, the challenge for the coach and the skipper is to cajole those performances out of him on a more regular basis - kinda like the way Brearley used to cajole Botham.

    Maybe KP has pulled an early masterstroke by showing faith in Fred as a test match no.6??

    Time will tell.....

  • Comment number 29.

    whats the betting that within 30 seconds of flintoff ariving at the crease, harris will be on to bowl and freddie will hear many taunts about slow bowling.

    he is not a number 6 but he can score occasionally, maybe this test will be one of those days!

  • Comment number 30.

    Agree with this side with the exception of the wicket-keeper, Ambrose is not an international keeper / batsman; Stephen Davies should be given an opportunity and this test was ideal for this

  • Comment number 31.

    Far be it from me to be seen as overly critical of Aggers, who I think is a tremendous broadcaster in the main, but on the KP/captaincy issue, he does seem to share a blind spot with many cricket commentators. Absolutely nowhere have I read or heard any condemnation of equally irresponsible and idiotic shot selection of Cook and Bell in the same innings. Moreover, neither of them had scored even a mediocre total, nor had they stuck around long enough to blunt the edge of the SA attack or shepherd Collingwood through the early stages of what must have been a nerve-shredding spell at the crease. It's remarkably unfair to continually use KP's admittedly daft dismissal in this way, and it's hard to escape the whiff of disappointment from the cricketing fraternity that we're not being led by some self-effecing, ex-public-school mediocrity who spends post-match press conferences sharpening his Tim Nice-but-Dim impression.

    Given Freddie's ordinary batting, having him at six is probably a disadvantage, but having Broad at seven or eight, if his form continues, is very much an advantage. Surely the net effect on the run total is the same as having an in-form six with a long tail? The extra bowler is an imperfect solution but it's difficult to suggest anything different, given the make up of the squad.

  • Comment number 32.

    looks a good team, especially as The Oval should suit Harmy's bowling and I also hear he's bowling very well and fast and aggressively.
    whether Ambrose is a good enough KEEPER remains to be seen. if, in time, that proves not to be the case then I'd swap him for whoever the best keeper is on the circuit - I'm led to believe it's Foster. I certainly wouldn't bring in Prior - he couldn't catch a cold!!! we need our keeper to catch almost everything and then the runs he scores are, for me, of lesser importance, though of course we need our keeper to score a few runs now and then. hopefully averaging at least 20-25 with the bat.
    PS. I have to agree with 'mikethegerm' about Cook and Bell - they both played stupid and irresponsible shots and as they'd not scored anywhere near KP's 94 (and been part of that very important partnership with Colly) then they deserve a lot more criticism than KP does, on this occasion.

  • Comment number 33.

    "Leave him alone and allow him to get on with forging a career which already far outshines yours and also many of the other 'experts' on TMS."

    Chairmanmo, get off Aggers' back.

    Just because he didn't have a glittering career as an England player doesn't mean he should refrain from criticism (justified, I believe, in the case of KP's dismissal on 94).

    Criticism is an essential part of what journalists do. I suppose you agree with Michael Vaughan's rather unpleasant belittling of Aggers on air when he had the temerity to question his batting form?

  • Comment number 34.

    Yeh, I do actually. Didn't think it was unpleasant at all. Quite funny and Aggers seemed to take it in good heart.

    Maybe the comment about his career was a cheap shot. I admit that.

    All I'm really saying is that, if you've been listening a lot to TMS and reading his blogs, Aggers seems to have a real bugbear at the moment about anything to do with where modern cricket is right now. For the last month, all he's done is moan about Twenty20 and KP's irresponsible batting.

    Like mikethegerm, I do detect a little hint of some ruffled feathers amongst the cricketing old guard.

    Oh, and it seems as though both mikethegerm and anthony1979 agree that Aggers went over the top with his criticism of KP's dismissal when he'd already gone a long way to draggin England back into the game while our other batsmen (Colly excepted) had not even turned up.

  • Comment number 35.

    I wonder sometimes whether anyone ever is honest with the players and comes out with the things they need to hear. Has anyone ever said to Steve Harmison that he is a great bowler but he just lets himself down by his carefree attitude?

    Has anyone ever said to Ian Bell, come on Ian, your a great player, but you need to prove that you've got bottle?

    Likewise surely people could say to players, look you need to score runs to keep your test place or bowlers, you must take wickets.

    I really think players should be set targets, for example averages that they should exceed over a period of time. Compare the averages of the two teams here and you will see why SA won.

    I do think we need to give Shah, Bopara, Kabir Ali etc a chance, by playing a series of tests, not just single ones, but explain that they've failed to impress so far, so they've got to start doing their stuff otherwise that's it. Its usually pretty clear whether people are going to make it in the long term after 10 tests or so. Our English past selections are littered with batsmen and bowlers averaging 30 something and that aint good enough.

    I think KP will want new players on the tours, since he knows he can't beat the Aussies with the present team. He will be given a chance up to the Aussies, but a heavy loss against them would be the end, and I don't think KP will want that.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think the criticism of KP by Mr Agnew is quite over the top and has put him in rather a compromised position vis-a-vis the new England captain.

    At the beginning of the last test at Edgbaston, Mr Agnew was one of the key media individuals piling pressure onto Michael Vaughan. Many people have raised an eyebrow about his approach.

    But what has happened since then is more worrying. On his blog last Friday he criticised Kevin Pietersen for his "irresponsible" shot selection which, he said, means Pietersen must "surely have ruled himself out of the reckoning" for the captaincy. Well he got that one wrong! In radio interviews over the last few days, Agnew has repeatedly referred to Pietersen's "selfishness" and his "big ego".

    Having seemingly failed to envisage even the possibility that Pietersen might be made test captain once Vaughan departed (whether that was this weekend or in 6 months time), he has somewhat shot himself in the foot. He has already laid his cards on the table, and this calls into question his role as a journalist. It is one thing for Alex Stewart, Geoffrey Boycott and others to speak their mind as commentators, but surely the BBC's Chief Cricket Correspondent is supposed to be more disinterested?

  • Comment number 37.

    I still think this 4th test would have been the perfect time to try some of the guys who are out there getting runs week in week out on the county scene. It's a dead rubber, nothing to lose to why not try out the likes of Joe Denly (who by the way i tip to be a future england captain), David Sales, Kabir Ali, Can't remember his name but the young spinner from yorkshire. Surely against the 2nd best test nation, what an oppurtunity to say ok guys you have been doing it in county cricket, now show us you can do it here. I would have gone with:

    Kabir Ali
    Yorkshire Spinner

  • Comment number 38.

    vanty9 ... you mean Adil Rashid

  • Comment number 39.

    yep, thanks baylysimon, thats the one, the kid can hold a bat too!!

  • Comment number 40.

    Maybe Aggers has been too critical of KP's supposed ego and, yes, he had hit 94 runs where others didn't contribute as they should - I think Ian Bell only getting 70 runs on his home ground was a poor return.

    But I think Agnew is only voicing what a lot of people think about KP and whether he has shot himself in the foot by laying his cards on the table will only be proven in the fullness of time.

    If England are a roaring success under Pietersen, which I hope, then Aggers has a large slice of humble pie to eat, but if the team struggles then he will be proved correct.

  • Comment number 41.

    tomoslovan, agreed, time will tell ...

    but my point is really that Aggers seems to have already made his mind up about KP, and like chairmanmo I think this has a lot to do with the 'old guard' having bad taste in their mouth over all sorts of things - 20/20, KP's decidedly un-English approach, his glamour lifestyle etc. Aggers didn't see this KP captaincy coming (whereas Boycott has been saying for a while that KP would be a good captian) and so he felt at liberty to say quite disparaging things about him. Now that KP has been made captain we are in the odd situation of the BBC chief cricket chap being in a rather antagonistic relationship with the England captain - and we haven't even played a game yet!

    Everyone will say 'lay off Aggers' but think it stinks of prejudice.

    Blowers by contrast is a libertine and loves KP!

  • Comment number 42.

    To 'tomoslavan', how wrong you are.
    First of all, I do agree with you that Agnew had far from a glittering career, and that alone should not stop him from criticising players, anymore than Sir Neville Cardus or Ian Wooldridge did, and they were both esteemed journalists - not cricketers, never mind Test cricketers.

    However, Agnew and others are so wrong to moan about 'that shot' when KP was on 96. He and Collingwood had played us back into the game and had shown more skill, flair and backbone than the batsmen above them. He got out, it didn't work, that's life.

    I loved MV's interview with Agnew, MV was so right, it must have been the 20th time Agnew had asked that dumb question on the day before a Test. We now know what the consequence of that, and many other similarly stupid interviews from ignorant hacks had on MV.

    Agnew, stick to cheesecakes and gateaux, that's your level.

  • Comment number 43.

    The move to 5 bowlers is good and positive. It was bad to see Fred running out of partners when batting well. In terms of the balance of the side, this puts the best batting wicket keeper in strong contention to grasp this awkward position in the team. At the moment that appears to probably be Matt Prior. We can afford the odd drop if it beefs up our batting and allows a 5 man bowling attack. I think that he lost his place because the runs dried up and if he could keep scoring runs, he would be given time to improve his keeping, just like Alec Stewart did. Let's face it, Stuart Broad can bat a bit and we need a foundation from our top 5 to allow the next three batsmen to do their thing.

  • Comment number 44.

    Yes baylysimon, I suppose Aggers is part of the old guard, but I've always had a real soft spot for him, hence my defence of him!

    I know he took Vaughan's criticism of him in good humour, but I didn't!

    It will be interesting to see how he and KP get on. One thing in KP's favour is that his supposed glitzy, ego-driven lifestyle seems to be a thing of the past.

    He was positively old school himself when he turned up for the press conference at Lord's!

  • Comment number 45.

    Aggers...Pietrsen got out on 96 runs as you constantly go on about!! What muppet trod on his stumps and never gets a mention !!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    I think the selection shows that KP and the other batsmen really have to step up to the plate and deliver. Something they haven't done all summer really. I commend him for this, hopefully we should see some better shot slection and some grit!

    Seeing Sidey at the test last week, I think he does need a well-earned rest, and the bowling set up (if they all perform) gives real options.

  • Comment number 47.

    "However, Agnew and others are so wrong to moan about 'that shot' when KP was on 96. He and Collingwood had played us back into the game and had shown more skill, flair and backbone than the batsmen above them. He got out, it didn't work, that's life."

    Evergreenhorn, yes, KP had played us back into the game with 94 runs.

    But to go after a six to reach a personal milestone and get out is irresponsible to say the least and hardly smacks of a team player.

    I wonder if his team-mates thought 'that's life' as he walked back into the pavilion?

  • Comment number 48.

    Its the right move.
    They needed five bowlers and all that is left to do now is to bring in James Foster for an attacking batsman who can keep instead of Prior whos dropped catches cause losses.
    Then you'd have a strong batting and bowling attack with possibly Simon Jones knocking on the door as well as Sidebottom if injuries happen or Anderson looses form. Broad should remain in the team though as a next all rounder. He's been unlucky with bowling cos hes been bowling quick and accurate so wickets will come!

  • Comment number 49.

    ....and I presume tomoslavan that you therefore have no problem with Collingwood doing the same thing about an hour afterwards?

    If Collingwood had got out in the same way as KP, attempting to hit a spinner (I use the term loosely about Harris) out of the ground would you be so harsh on KP? He wasn't going 'after a six to reach a personal milestone', he was being the aggressive, innovative and flair player that he is, to pressurise them.

    His team mates were still hiding in the showers in disgrace at what they had done earlier to wonder about 'thats life'.

  • Comment number 50.

    Looks ok. As its a dead rubber I would have like to have seen a right hander to play with Cook on opening and Struss at 3. Can Bell open for instance. Just to give the opposite side a bit more grief with field placements at the start.
    The only other thing on my mind will Harmison be going to India. I like the idea of him Flintoff and Broad in the same team to bring on Broad with their experiance.
    I think England with Broad and Flintoff in the side we should stick with 5 bowlers.

  • Comment number 51.

    My my, some of us have really got it in for Aggers at the moment, haven't we? Some people seem to think he is the only one bleating on about how KP got out on 94, and yet it was Alec Stewart who really wnt ballistic - and in truth he had already predicted KP's crash-and-burn before it happened.

    Anyway that's not why I wanted to contribute. Instead it was to say that I enjoyed reading seeingthefuture's comment - it took me back to 1981: for KP read Beefy and for Michael V read Mike B, Roll on the Ashes.

  • Comment number 52.

    Yes Evergreenhorn, if Collingwood had got out I would be just as harsh on him and KP - I have nothing against KP personally.

    I remain convinced that he was just after a ton and did not do the best thing for his team.

    A batsman on 94 looking for a six over long-on, with a fielder perfectly placed for a lofted drive, is not being innovative, he's being foolish.

  • Comment number 53.

    Why is Flintoff considered a No. 6/7 material? He is a gutsy player, and has the capacity to even bat at 5. An all-rounder, and a really strong batsman like him will be treated with much more respect in any other country. Sending him at 7 is a crime. The guy breathes fire no matter what he does, bat/bowl/field. He is the only Englishman who scares most oppositions (including Aussies). Would love to see him bat higher.. He has a better blend of aggression and caution than KP. Come on England, you have very few genuine talents, don't waste them with poor strategies. Glad to see that KP wants Freddie to bat higher.

  • Comment number 54.

    Isa guha should have replaced sidebottom instead of harmy.

  • Comment number 55.

    I am a bit surprised with some of the comments about Broad. Almost sounds like he's a batsman who bowls a bit! Would probably have been better off with Bopara if that is the case. I am sure that Broad has a long international future but just worry that he's not quite there as a bowler, which is his main string at the moment.

    I think the selectors could have been more ruthless. I'd have looked at dropping Monty and Collingwood as well as Siders, who probably just needs to recharge his batteries. Not sure he's played so much cricket as he has in the last 15 months before.

    Freddie is not a test match number 6. People often use the phrase "form is temporary but class is permanent". My view on Freddie during the 2005 Ashes is that he was merely in good form, better than his actual class.

  • Comment number 56.

    Based on recent form, Broad should bat at 7, ahead of Ambrose

  • Comment number 57.

    Hope you don't think i'm an idiot but here is what i think the squad should be



  • Comment number 58.

    I'm very happy with the selection. It's aggressive and sends a strong message to the top order that they NEED to start doing their job and putting more value on their wicket.

    I'd have preferred a right hander opening with Cook, but my secret childish wish is that one Michael Vaughan might come and take over that role one day soon.

    Same goes for the bowlers - I'm glad to see Harmison back, and I hope he's not as complacent as when we last saw him. We all know what he's capable of, and he must know he's running out of chances to show it off.

    I like Broad and fully expect him to be a long standing fixture in the side IF he can contribute with the ball a bit more. Myself I'd have swapped him for Collingwood, but there we go.

    Sidearse clearly needed a rest, and he'll be back soon enough. I look forward to seeing Jones back over the winter where the drier pitches will help his reverse swing - he's said himself that the ball isn't reversing in England this year because of all the damp outfields.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing a good aggressive, positive England team show us what they're made of tomorrow.

    Until the rain comes in and disappoints us all with a draw.

  • Comment number 59.

    I am disappointed that this 'dead' Test was not used to try out new blood, even if it was only one player. My pick would have been Denly at the expense of Strauss, who has hardly helped the cause with his 'brave' comment about KP and, as pointed out above, played like a 'muppet' at Edgbaston.

    I think the KP on 94 issue is dead boring. I winced far more at Ian Bell's dreadful shot, though I feel Bell is our best batsman after the captain.

    I thought Michael Vaughn was plain rude to Aggers and I think it showed his time had come.

    Poor Ambrose needs to be let go. If we had a wicket-keeper who could bat we wouldn't be having all this team juggling. Prior or Foster; make your mind up.

    I must say I'm looking forward to this Test a damn sight more than I'm looking forward to the Olympics.

  • Comment number 60.

    The key to balancing a side is always positions 6-8. Flintoff at 6 will have the opportunity and indeed will be compelled to play as a proper batsman. His first innings at Edgbaston was well constructed, playing himself in before starting to unleash the boundary strokes. His batting position, combined with Broad's absence and two appalling run outs meant he was cut off in his prime. Broad is batting magnificently. It is a pity he seems unable to take any wickets as that must be his primary role in the team. Ambrose has batted for reasonable periods of time without scoring too many and his keeping has been adequate. This is the one position that needs addressing. A team must play its best wicketkeeper regardless of his ability to bat. Chris Read has let through fewer byes and dropped fewer catches and missed fewer stumpings per test than any England wicketkeeper this decade and must be recalled to the team. With our bowling attack we must take every chance going.

  • Comment number 61.

    shortlegarms - Did you not notice how knackered Sidebottom looked in the last test ?

  • Comment number 62.

    Pietersen is correct.

    It's more about attitude, passion and pride than ability!

    Don't defer batsmen down the batting order to shield them from too much stress and pressure; rather promote them up the order and encourage them to face up to their responsibilities. It is an honour and privilege to play for your country. Set them a challenge, don't baby them.

    It's a man's game and the men will respond; the boys will not and should be replaced.

    Learn something from the Australians and South Africans.

    Graeme Smith spoke cautiously about the appointment of Pietersen as captain because he is concerned and rightly so. He knows how Pietersen was raised. He is a fighter and he will bring out the best in his team mates (already has in Collingwood). The last thing the South Africans feel like now is to have to face a resurgent England.

    A word of caution. England need to respect this South African team and to conquer them on the pitch, without resorting to verbal conflict.

  • Comment number 63.

    Its all very well that Pieterson has faith in flintoff at 6 however is he actually good enough at the moment to do bat at number 6, particularly against a very well drilled south african bowling attack?
    I have my doubts.

    Anyone can place faith in anyone. I can place faith in Broad coming in to bat at number 3 but would he be effective? I would like to see a bit more thought and logic go in to such things as picking teams. The selectors don't really give me much confidence in this anyway.

    I don't think smith is concerned in relation to pietersen being captain at all and in truth is probably quite pleased.

    I still think the media and england fans need to show a bit more respect to the south africans. Anyone who knows their cricket will know that england are not as great as they, the media and most fans like to believe. The south africans are a very good team england will do well to get anything from the next test.

  • Comment number 64.

    A brave selection.

    For the first time we have a chance of winning. We have an attack capable of taking 20 wickets.

    But do not get too excited this S.A team is high quality.

    But we now have 2 world class bowlers playing.

  • Comment number 65.

    Has anyone mentioned the fact that this test is really a lose lose situation for Pietersen. If we win it will be reported that the match was a dead rubber and that the south africans minds where on the ODI's or home or some such nonsense and that their hearts weren't in it. If we lose it'll be a case of be moaning that nothing changes, or criticising "bold" selections.
    The only way gto avoid this is if England really hammer the South Africans and as the only way i can see that happening, looking at the recent matches, is if Harmison blasts through their top order twice then the selectors will cop the abuse for poor team selection.
    This you may think could be fair but please please please if we do win can we have some positive reaction from the media (the usually excellent TMS team are largely excluded from this) and if we should lose can we please give KP a chance, after how he got out in the last test on 94 with England still in trouble i'm not certain he deserves it but he IS the captain now like it or not.

  • Comment number 66.

    I think that given the squad that was selected this is the best team for the Oval. I would like to see Prior come in for Ambrose (or even Foster if you're concerned about glove work) as he has looked hopelessly out of his depth at test level.

    I was pleased to see Broad's inclusion because I think he needs time to get used to playing at test level. His bowling will undoubtedly improve and this will make him into an invaluable member of the team as his batting has been a revelation. The selectors excuses that he needed a rest were just obsurd and I think Broad shared this view. He is a young player and fit as a fiddle and he will only learn how to bowl at test level with time out in the middle. If Freddie can rediscover a bit of his form with the bat then we could have a really strong lineup. I dont believe that you can have too many allrounders as long as they are quality which Freddie and Broad have the talent to be.

    I think it is right that Harmison get's another chance, we asked him to go away and get wickets and he's done that, if he messes up again then fair enough get rid of him. If KP is true to his word then hopefully he will get the best out of Harmison and make him proud to play for his country. Too often this has looked like a chore to him rather than an honour.

    With players like Joe Denly on the fringes I think we're not in too bad shape. I'd like to see some younger county bowlers kicking on and putting themselves in the frame. I don't think there have been many candidates this year.

    After all the stick they have taken I dont think that our batsmen are that bad. Quite often this series we have seen them get out when looking in good touch. If they could only learn from the Saffers great shot selection they could be converting 20's into 50's and even 100's. I think we'll see a lot more batsmen come good in this game and hopefully more cutting edge from the bowlers. I'm looking forward to the KP era, positivity is the key as long as it doesnt become confused with over confidence.

  • Comment number 67.

    First of all, can anyone explain what Ambrose brings to the England team? No? Okay, let's drop him then. Bring back Prior (Foster and Read aren't good enough with the bat at this level, and if anyone disagrees, check the stats). Prior's keeping has been very sound this season and he has scored a stack of runs. People forget that his horror show match in SL, which led to his demise, was saved by a resolute stand between Cook and Prior against Murali on the fifth day.
    Secondly, the dead rubber of a series should be the ideal opportunity to have a look at Rashid. Panesar has regressed as a test cricketer, and his batting and fielding are disgraceful.
    Finally, Key and Shah are deserving of recalls, and Strauss, Collingwood, Bell and Cook need a good kick up the backside.

  • Comment number 68.

    I remain completely unconvinced that 5-1-5 is clearly a superior balance than 6-1-4. The 6th batsman statistically gives you in the region of an extra 50 runs per match. To balance this, the 5th bowler has to promise to add the capability of taking 2 extra wickets while the opposition score the same number of runs. In other words, he has to offer the promise to be able to dismiss the opposition 50 runs more cheaply over the course of the match - in comparison to a side employing only 4 bowlers.

    I fully appreciate the proposition that we need to take 20 wickets, and that we should bear this in mind at all times. Yet if this was the ONLY consideration, or even the overwhelming one, the logical solution would be to play 6 or 7 bowlers, wouldn't it? The fact is that the 20 wicket argument has forced itself to the forefront because it is nice and easy on the mind, not really because it is any more fundamentally important than having a side likely to score enough runs.

    So my proposition is that 5-1-5 has become the most popular solution for the reason that "taking 20 wickets" has been over-emphasised as the most important objective of the match. If you reduce the weight given to "taking 20 wickets" to where it rationally should be, the argument for 5-1-5 becomes much weaker, and for England, where 4 of the top 5 batsmen average only just over 40, it's hardly going to be the best prediction, other than out of Pietersenesque bravado, that a 6th batsman is going to be a luxury.

    I'd also like to make the point that Stuart Broad is not a batsman. He's a bowler who can bat a bit, and in time he might qualify to be called an all-rounder. To assume that his current Test batting average is typical of what we might expect in the future is schoolroom fantasy.

  • Comment number 69.

    Absolute rubbish and piffle from ciderstuffer (a westcountry bumpkin) and monty re Flintoff.

    Flintoff will be fine at 6, he played an intelligent innings for 36 not out and then as he was taking control and moving up a gear, ran out of partners as England's tail folded like a pack of cards with ridiculous run outs and schoolboy efforts.

    Harmison will play all out with his mate Flintoff to cajole him along. Pieterson did the right thing in putting Flintoff at 6.

    Ask the Australian side who the finest bowler and finest all rounder in the world is and they will tell you Flintoff. Some of the deadbeats on the 606 forum think they know better than Ponting and the Australian team and thank God we had some honesty from Vaughan in his departure about his form, his contribution and as a consequence why he was stepping down. Otherwise the absolute dreadful drivel poured out by Vaughan's relations as they tried to obliterate his woeful batting and frankly woeful captaincy this year would have obscured the truth.


  • Comment number 70.

    At least the line up looks like the line up of old freddie at 6 plus wwe now have 5 bowlers, but i have doubts about KP as captain, will he be another freddie or step up to the job, only time will tell, bell may have been a better option. Ambrose deserves to finish the series but the are huge doubts about him at this level, hes had longer than prior, he deserve another chance but england should pick a keeper and stick with them for at least 2/3 series to see if they settle, they did this with G Jones but it didnt work out, please pick one and stick with them!, harmey must be in the last chance saloon hes had enough chances surely if he doesnt produce at the oval its good night and get S Jones back. and finally the forgotton man O Shah what has this guy got to do to get a game its a disgrace if you dont use Collingwood as a bowler as well surely Shah must play hes a better batsman, come on Shah.

  • Comment number 71.

    Just find a wicketkeeper who can actually bat!!! Look at all the decent sides in the world at the moment and all of them have a wicketkeeper who can produce some runs. A test match keeper nowadays should be able to bat up the order and not lower down than Freddie (although he himself is a fine batsman), and consistently out performed by out and out bowlers like Broad. It is as though we are one batsman down and its a major disadvantage. FIND A BETTER 'KEEPER!!!

  • Comment number 72.

    I'm getting quite sick of this rash of "Agnew bashing".

    Aggers was selected for only 3 tests, against extremely good opposition, at a time when England selection policy was inconsistent to say the least. "Oh you didn't take 7-30?, take a rest young man".

    Had he been given 10-15 tests to really prove himself, and been repeatedly brough back (on merit), who knows what kind of test career he might have had. He was a damn fine swing bowler, and he would have got MV out without breaking a sweat.

    All of the above is irrelevent. Ancient history. It matters not. He's a cricket correspondent now, and a very good one. He calls it like it is, without malice or agenda. Is it not fair to ask the former England captain when he's going to start scoring some runs again? I'd ask him the same thing in the bar after a game.

    As for KP's "moment of madness", he should have been looking to go on and on and on, not just 100.

    Rule No1 of batting in first class cricket - STAY IN!! Bat all day, and the next, and the next day if you can. Milestones? PFFT!!

  • Comment number 73.

    brilliant lineup im glad bopara isnt starting hes already had his chance at test level. Only one problem y is ambrose still their get foster in KP or prior in fact any wicket keeper who can play more then the cut!

  • Comment number 74.

    Almost every one of the comments posted today makes at least one valuable not to say truthful statement about the team and the 14/15 players or so currently part of what we might loosely describe as a "squad". But that's the problem isn't it - disagreement provides for contradictory statements and England have managed to be one of those classic contradictory teams for far longer than Vaughan's term at the helm. Every captain of the 2000s has given way, in one sense or another, because of the pressure/demands/poor performance etc. Yet Atherton, Hussein, Vaughan, even Trescothick, Flintoff and Strauss all have okay records simply looking at the stats. The point? Every one of us, certainly with the first three, can remember at least one great performance from the team in their charge... and AT LEAST ONE lamentable one, sometimes in the same series! Hands up who had the team down to win the series in New Zealand after the first test? So is this consistency, in performance and selection? Ability, guts, luck? It's all these things of course, but as much as anything England are truly victims of the modern schedule for international cricket, a team with some ability, who can perform on some days, in some conditions. It's not a water tight argument but isn't it strange that the team, sometimes not at full strength, have most times been able to win the early season series in recent years - against often weaker opposition yes - at a canter before struggling later in the summer. Yes a South Africa and India have been tougher opposition but conventional wisdom has always been that pitches are greener in May, it's not as warm, harder to bat etc. Yet the weather these last couple of years has generally been better in May and the pitches seemingly drier and flatter than later in the summer, and low and behold some players have prospered.
    Is there a way to help Pietersen and co achieve on realistic terms then and match the potential of the team in an era where it is increasingly difficult for any one team to dominate all formats all of the time in a way the West Indies did, and Australia have?
    Well two things to finish which are admitedly contentious but must be addressed. If it is the media goading on players to make "controversial" statements for the sake it, it should stop, but at the same time a player and now captain like Pietersen should avoid statements like the one in the ODI series against NZ that called for a win for Collingwood, suspended over his actions in Oval game, when the actions were a disgrace full stop, apology or no apology at the end of the game. Second the fans have to help by letting go of this folk hero mentality for certain players. Flintoff has received it in the past and Panesar is suffering from this now. He's a good guy and potentially a fine player but he's playing up to the image and the crowds' attitude and it's not helping him or the team. So a draw then at the Oval!

  • Comment number 75.

    "Chris Read has let through fewer byes and dropped fewer catches and missed fewer stumpings per test than any England wicketkeeper this decade ".

    Comment 60 from DaringColster.

    Where did you get these stats?

  • Comment number 76.

    They say you cannot choose your oppositions and you have to play whoever you are put up against, but in quest of “greatness” – all the “obituaries” seem to heap greatness upon Vaughn as the most successful of English skippers – Vaughn couldn’t, and in all likelihood wouldn’t, have chosen different oppositions than that he played during his tenure. The statistics below (of Vaughn as Captain) tells its own story:

    Opposition = Win / Loss / Batting Average (in games with non-draw result)

    Australia = 2 wins / 1 loss / 15 (Batting Average)
    South Africa = 4 wins / 5 losses / 21 (Batting Average)
    Sri Lanka = 0 wins / 2 losses / 18 (Batting Average)
    Pakistan = 0 wins / 1 loss / 35 (Batting Average)
    India = 0 wins / 1 loss / 66 (Batting Average)
    New Zealand = 6 wins / 1 loss / 25 (Batting Average)
    West Indies = 10 wins / 0 loss / 45 (Batting Average)
    Bangladesh = 4 wins / 0 loss / 74 (Batting Average)
    Zimbabwe = n/a

    Total = 26 wins / 11 losses / 33 (Batting Average)

    KP may not be so lucky in terms of who he leads against!!!

  • Comment number 77.


  • Comment number 78.

    I agree with Aggers , KP has started well at least in showing confidence in his players. Let us hope it continues.

    Simfas (above) Highly unfair anti-Vaughan post: Very conveniently excludes batting performances in all drawn Tests in order to make the figures look worse.! What possible justification has he for this twisting of statistics?
    Figures don't lie but liars can figure....

  • Comment number 79.

    "Certainly Stuart Broad's return to bat at eight adds depth to the batting line-up"

    It is ture that he is better than Tim Ambrose, so the number eight position is stronger, but Ambrose is now at seven, with the previous number seven (Flintoff) at six, the previous number six (Collingwood) at five and the previous number five (Bell) at three.

    So, I assume that you are suggesting that Stuart Broad is a better batsman than Michael Vaughan (and Ravi Bopara). That seems like a strong statement.

    Or, are you just going along with the little intellectual manoeuvring that infests England selectors' minds when they desire the England team to be the only test team that doesn't pick its best six batsmen?

  • Comment number 80.


  • Comment number 81.

    have spent an interesting few days this week as a Brit in Johannesburg; haven't had too much stick but lots of surprise at KP's appointment, especially as they don't seem him as a team player.

    That it's once again the bowling line up thats been changed to cover batting failures seems to be the main point, though I understand the need for consistency. Again, given the one-off nature of the test, there was an opportunity to try out Simon Jones in place of Jimmy Anderson before the winter.

    As a 40-something, my personal wish for a one-off-test bringing back some of the more mature county players would have been great. Robert Key as captain, with Hick and Ramprakash in the batting line-up, and then maybe Gough and Robert Croft bowling would have been great !!!

  • Comment number 82.

    Pietersen will 'bump his head' and will bump it more than once. He plays so many extraordinary shots that he is hardly likely to get out playing a forward defensive.

    The important factor will be, of course, how many runs he has scored before he 'gets himself out'.

    I wouldn't complain too much if he makes 94 every innings, even if he is out trying to hit a six every time.

    What might be a problem is his lack of captaincy experience and a tendency to stick with a failing tactic rather than admit that he needs to change tack.

    We shall see, and I can't wait.

  • Comment number 83.

    4th Test Bowlers vs South Africa

    Harmison : 18 wkts @ 59.56
    Anderson : 27 wkts @ 41.81
    Flintoff : 46 wkts @ 37.09
    Broad : 3 wkts @ 96.00
    Panesar : 9 wkts @ 41.22

    Blind faith perhaps, fair do's this is the first time Broad and Panesar have faced South Africa, but those are pretty awful figures. Even Flintoff's is well below par, so how exactly are we going to take 20 wickets with that? They may well upset the odds and take 20 wickets, but I think the South Africans have their measure. Certainly made me wonder how we won out there

    Averages vs South Africa (04/05)

    Flintoff : 23 wkts @ 24.96
    HOGGARD : 26 wkts @ 25.50
    JONES : 15 wkts @ 26.67
    Giles : 11 wkts @ 40.82
    Harmison : 9 wkts @ 73.22
    Anderson : 2 wkts @ 74.50

    So of the bowlers that defeated South Africa in the 04/05 series, England have opted for one that was highly successful and two that weren't. Hoggard and Jones helped Flintoff beat them on their own doorstep, quite why Flintoff's other 23 wickets against them are so expensive is a bit of a worry.

    04/05 : 23 wkts @ 24.96
    99/00 : 5 wkts @ 38.00
    Home : 18 wkts @ 52.33

    T'is 7 wkts @ 34.00 this series, but not nearly the renaissance someone quoted the other day on another forum saying his average since 2004 was much better. In fact in Tests for England since 2004, Flintoff has taken 144 wkts @ 27.95. However 44 of those have been against New Zealand, Bangladesh and West Indies.

    Flintoff since 2004

    WIN/BAN/NZE : 44 wkts @ 23.25
    vs rest : 100 wkts @ 30.02

    Still pretty good, still not top notch. 2004 happened to be the start of 11 easy Tests in a row, in the much tougher preceding 14 Tests he picked up just 30 wkts @ 49.40. It's nice people want to think Flintoff is world class, but isn't selectivity over his career and chopping the bits that make verage look world class,a bit desperate. Everyone else has to bear the burden of their worst spells, I bet Harmison wishes people would do the same. And if that principle were applied to Hoggy perhaps he'd be bowling today.

    PREDICTION : South Africa will be hard to stop, it will take a consistent England batting and bowling performance for us to win the Test, and on the form of the past two and a half Tests I can't see that happening. I can't help feeling this side is the one the selectors are thinking might have been the one that, had it started the series, would see England 2-0 up. Dream on!

  • Comment number 84.

    "All of the above is irrelevent. Ancient history. It matters not. He's [Aggers] a cricket correspondent now, and a very good one. He calls it like it is, without malice or agenda." #72

    I agree entirely.

  • Comment number 85.

    # 84 me too!

  • Comment number 86.

    statistics and past success are not certain to predict the future. at headingly the hype was that panesar would take a hatful of wickets (based upon past success there) but that did not happen.

    I believe the england team appear jaded due to too much cricket and their modest performances, even their wins have not been clearcut.

    perhaps a new leader will lift them but looking at the weather prospects at the oval, a result seems unlikely.

  • Comment number 87.

    A few posts mentioning Prior as keeper. No point scoring runs then dropping catches. Foster is the best keeper by a country mile however it has to be said that Ambrose's glove work has been pretty good lately. The lad needs runs and I would like at replacing him only if he continues to get scores of 30 and under. Adam Gichrist was a one off and did all other keepers no favours.

  • Comment number 88.

    Sorry meant 30 and under or starting dropping catches. I would rather have a specialist who contributes steady runs than someone who might rack up 50 and drop two vital catches. We seem obsessed with a batsman/wicketkeeper instead of wicketkeeper batsman.

  • Comment number 89.

    5. At 3:05pm on 06 Aug 2008, Hicksyfern wrote:
    I still can't understand why Ambrose is batting ahead of Broad.

    Ambrose to me looks like a walking wicket - even the shots he connects with and gets to the rope look like he was lucky to make contact.

    Broad, on the other hand, looks as comfortable as anyone in our line-up facing either fast or slow bowlers.
    Have to agree, Broad should come in ahead of Ambrose and as for the line-up, this is definitely the STRONGEST ENGLISH TEAM since the series begun. England bat right down to number 8. Plus the 5 bowlers is definitely an excellent choice.

    I would go for a draw! Anyone?

  • Comment number 90.

    I'm surprised at some of the comments about Broad - despite looking comfortable at the crease and averaging over 40 in Tests, he's not done much at the county level with the bat.

    As for the idea that Aggers should temper his criticism in case the poor tender soul they're aimed at has a dip in form as a result - if they're that sensitive, what would the Aussies do to them?

  • Comment number 91.

    South African viewer who has not seen much of England since they beat SA here. Tell me how can people like Hogard and Simon Jones be not playing. The Outies gave our batsmen big headaches here. I remember Smith and Gibbs struggling with the swing from Hogard and other guys could not read the reverse swing of Jones. You better tell me they are injured or are they seriously out of form? Otherwise the guys you have including Stevie H will not take 20 South African wickets. No ways...

  • Comment number 92.

    Comment 75 : twlmurphy

    "Chris Read has let through fewer byes and dropped fewer catches and missed fewer stumpings per test than any England wicketkeeper this decade ".

    Comment 60 from DaringColster.

    "Where did you get these stats?"

    I don't know about the catches and stumpings, but the byes stat is almost certainly true.

    Read has let just 40 byes through in his 15 Tests at a rate of 0.57 per 100 opposition runs.

    The other keepers I have analysed are:-

    Prior 132 in 10 at 2.39 per 100 runs
    Jones 274 in 34 at 1.38 per 100 runs
    Ambrose 63 in 9 at 1.28 per 100 runs

    and from the past

    Stewart 464 in 82 at 1.12 per 100 runs
    Knott 422 in 95 at 0.93 per 100 runs

    Of course byes in themselves are of pretty minor importance, but let's just say that if I was after someone whose keeping ability was paramount I'd need a lot of convincing that my choice should come from amongst those with a poor record for letting byes through.

  • Comment number 93.

    I think we have to accept the fact that we do not possess a wicket keeper who is a quality batsman, having accepted that we should then pick the best wicket keeper, who in my opinion is Chris Read

  • Comment number 94.

    I don't know about the catches and stumpings, but the byes stat is almost certainly true.

    So what?

    Most byes are the result of poor bowling that no wicketkeeper would stop, very rarely is it a reflection of the skills fo the keeper himself. Comparing it to runs scored against just distorts the picture even more. Without some sort of comparison that includes the number of potential byes (which should only include those balls which are difficult but not impossible to take) it is all meaningless twaddle.

    Besides which, even taking the very worst ecample of prior, at an extra 2 runs per 100 conceded that is at most 8-10 runs per innings. Prior would be worth an easy 8-10 runs more with the bat on average, and like I said most of those 8-10 byes were unretreivable anyway.

  • Comment number 95.

    People on here have got to remember that Broad is not an all rounder and his batting average will surely come down in the next few years.

    His strengths and weaknesses will surely be exposed the more teams see him bat. A lot of batsmen have this problem and this is a problem cook is having at the moment.

    I remember when darren gough came on the scene and due to his batting performances he immediately got hailed as the new Botham. However we all know now that gough is not an all rounder, a decent tailender, but no allrounder!

    So I believe that we need a bit of perspective on here. Anyone who knows their county cricket will know that Broad is no allrounder and this will be proven to all you cricket novices at international level in the future.
    However he is very useful with the bat and england should be very pleased that they have a strong number 8 now.

  • Comment number 96.

    Those calling for Simon Jones to be recalled are wrong, he is not physically ready yet as he is still working up to full fitness.

  • Comment number 97.

    simfas post 76:

    please could you do those stats with the draws included, because otherwise i would have to suggest your trying to manipulate the stats to make a point.....

    if draws are not to be included, i take it we forget about Vaughen's 160 odd to nearly set up the win in the 3rd test and kp's 150 odd to draw and win the ashes in 2005.

    did Vaughan steal your sweets at school????

  • Comment number 98.

    Can anyone tell me what has happenened to Simon Jones, he is playing well for his county, isn't he !!!

  • Comment number 99.

    Comment 94 : hackerjack

    It sounds as though you think you've discovered the truth about the best type of keeper to have, and that therefore any line of thinking contrary to this must, without question, be wrong.

    You're not by any chance a politician, are you?

  • Comment number 100.

    looking at the weather forecast, I don't think we'll learn very much at all in the next five days. a wet draw on the cards


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