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Broad's Ashes spot no longer secure

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Oliver Brett | 19:06 UK time, Monday, 3 August 2009

And so the Edgbaston Ashes Test, essentially ruined by the rain despite England's best attempts to manufacture something special on the second and fourth days, ended in the most stale of stalemates.

Monday provided a sobering passage of play for England's bowling attack, who managed to pick up just three wickets throughout. It was the home team's first really disappointing day since Cardiff.

When conditions are ripe for swing, James Anderson and Graham Onions are extremely potent, as we saw on Friday morning.

But if the wicket goes a bit flat, and if Andrew Flintoff - who oddly failed to take a wicket in this match - cannot produce one of his famous inspired spells, then it all gets a little bit easy for the Aussies.

The Headingley match is fast approaching on Friday, and Stuart Broad - who saved his best bowling spell of the series for the almost redundant post-tea period on Monday - may not make the cut when the starting XI is announced on Tuesday..

Stuart Broad

One obvious option, the man who has been banging on the door all summer, is Steve Harmison. In addition to enjoying a fine season at Durham, he also gave Australia plenty of problems when turning out for the Lions just before the Ashes.

But he has let down England on various occasions in the past few seasons and when he is off-colour he is usually badly off-colour. Further complicating the issue is the news that he has badly blistered feet - and England will be wary of picking a bowler with a slight fitness doubt given that Flintoff's knee is such an issue.

Another possibility is Broad's Nottinghamshire team-mate, the left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom, who recently picked up a five-wicket haul in an innings at that fast-bowlers' graveyard, Taunton. He is also arguably better suited to swing-friendly Headingley than Harmison.

Broad's runs are always a pleasant bonus, and he produced another valuable hand with a knock of 55 on Sunday. But, as former England all-rounder Dominic Cork says, Broad's run are exactly that - a bonus. He is in the side for his bowling.

"You have to take 20 wickets to win a Test and I'm getting tired of hearing people saying we're going to weaken the batting order if we replace Broad," Cork told me during a break in summarising duties for BBC Radio 5 Live.

"The top six bat and the bowlers bowl, so when we get that into our minds we stop worrying about the runs scored by numbers seven, eight and nine.

"You want them to bat a little bit but their runs are a bonus. Jimmy Anderson batting at 10 has been batting very well, Andrew Flintoff, Matt Prior and Paul Collingwood have been a solid middle order combination and whevetever you get in between is a bonus.

"Broad is a fantastic cricketer but he's not getting as many wicket as he should be and a period of time in county cricket might help him.

"I accept that it's difficult to change a winning side, but this is a case where we need to make sure that while we get the Aussies down we don't allow them back. We've got the hand on their throat and we should make sure we squeeze them."

Perhaps the main problem for Broad is working out exactly what kind of bowler he is. His height and pace mean he can be something of an enforcer, but when the wickets are slow he is best served by pitching the ball up further and looking for sideways movement. Making the adjustment is not easy, and that might explain why it took him until virtually the end of the match at Edgbaston to begin to make an impression.

It was, incidentally, extremely telling that Andrew Strauss waited until 50 overs had been bowled in Australia's second innings before Broad was handed the ball.

If Flintoff does not make Headingley, then Broad's position is secure and England would have to choose between replacing their big all-rounder with a batsman or a bowler. It's an odious situation to be in, because the 1-0 lead suggests caution and a strong batting line-up - but negativity could be seized upon by the Australians.

And what of the Australian options? Their selection decisions have so far foxed most pundits from down under that many have given up predicting what side will turn out next. Brett Lee and Stuart Clark must both come into the reckoning with neither Peter Siddle nor Nathan Hauritz secure - though Hauritz would return at The Oval, which always takes some spin.

Mitchell Johnson has struggled with his line and length all series and has been seriously disappointing. He is now also struggling with a hamstring problem so his injury could be convenient for the selectors.

Australia have also been very quiet on wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who fractured a finger in the warm-up, thus handing Graham Manou an unexpected debut behind the stumps in Birmingham.

Manou did nothing wrong with the gloves but Australia will be hoping the more experienced Haddin will be fit enough to return.

Amazingly, they seem to have solved their opening batsman headache with two unexpected half-centuries from Shane Watson after he came in for Phillip Hughes.

England must study some DVDs of Watson batting and find his flaws - it cannot be an accident that he started the week with a Test average below 20.


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  • Comment number 1.

    No cloud cover and England's attack is toothless. Shame because it's supposed to be sport not physics.

  • Comment number 2.

    Dont think we should be changing any thing dramatically the Aussies have do the chasing here. Agree with Broad being dropped he averages over 40 with the ball and that is just not good enough.

  • Comment number 3.

    You say that Broad's runs are only a "bonus" but take a look at Australia's line-up, only Ben Hilfenhaus is one who cannot score good runs, the rest are no slouches with the bat, so down the order you need people like Broad and Swann who will hit quick runs and build a partnership and maybe steady the ship if needed after a collapse.

    As for his bowling, why is he suddenly being critiscised, he is bowling well, notice when the team is struggling and toiling in the field, it is him who in the end takes a vital wicket which HE hopes would lift the team.

    There is no need to make changes, and Broad will learn from this critisicm but he needs to stay in the team.

  • Comment number 4.

    With every game Broad's stock as a bowler gets lower.

    He simply is not one of England's four best fast bowlers right now.

    On form Harmison should come in and on his day he is the best fast bowler in the world.

    But he has repeatedly let England down in the past, whereas Sidebottom never has.

    It should swing at Headingley, but if it does not (and this test has shown how fickle swing bowling is) then an attack of Anderson, Onions and Sidebottom may not be that effective.

    Bit of a conundrum for the selectors, they may choose to leave it as it is simply to avoid making a decision.

    The Australians on the other hand must do something to their bowling.

    One if not both of Lee and Clark should play, although Johnson probably bowled better in this test than the first two.

    Hauritz will offer little at Headingley, where it always favours the quicks.

  • Comment number 5.

    Broad should not be dropped. He is the future, as soon as Flintoff retires he becomes an integral part of the side. The only way he will get better, and more streetwise, with his bowling is to play against the best, and the best at the moment are Australia.

    He was desperately unlucky not to pick up a few more wickets today, he had both North and Clarke feeling for the ball early in their innings, but as soon as they were settle I don't think any bowling attack in the world would have dislodged them.

    If Flintoff isn't fit, I would pick Harmison, shifting Broad up a place and handing him the extra responsibility. Although Headingley is traditionally a swing bowlers ground, if for any reason it doesn't swing our bowling attack is too one dimensional, with Harmison he overs some extra pace and has some previous with the Aussies.

  • Comment number 6.

    How quickly critics forget how well Broad has bowled recently. Before this Ashes series i would say he has been our best bowler, with Jimmy A coming a close second. Don't remember Broad bouncing out a confident Sarwan who had just reached his century a month back? I do- stunning piece of bowling. And he was the pick of the England bowlers today, going at less than 3 an over. I see him as a partnership breaker, whenever a couple of batsmen get settled against England it always seems to be Broad who finally comes up with the goods and gets them out. Yes, he is expensive and i will be the first to admit that but personally, i reckon thats cancelled out by the lower order runs he gets, ignore the tosh from Cork- lower order runs will be vital in this series, especially with Aussie bowlers being half decent batsmen and Lee to possibly come back who averages something like 30 against us. IF Broad does get dropped (which would be a harsh decision in my view), id like to see Sidebottom come back in, especially as you say Oliver in your blog with the pitch at Headingly being swing-friendly.

  • Comment number 7.

    Couldn't agree more bedshapedx !!!

  • Comment number 8.

    I felt that England needed to make Watson play a bit more early on. In both innings the opening bowlers were a little wide of the mark to Watson. I'm not quite sure what to do about Broad. In some senses, never mind what Dominic Cork says, his lower end runs are very very useful, especially with a top 5 that is still a bit fragile.

    I do think that the story of the series at the moment is a good bowling attack and weak batting line up (England) vs a good batting line up and a weak bowling attack (Australia). I think Headingley could be an interesting game, I think if its a good batting wicket that favors Australia, but if we could manufacture a good old fashioned Headingley seamers wicket, England are favourites to take a winning lead in the series!

  • Comment number 9.

    I think this article is really harsh on Broad. It's like your forgetting why he's in the team in the first place, which is because he has been very good with both bat and ball. Just because Dominic Cork says that Broad's runs should only be regarded as a bonus doesn't mean that's the right way to look at it. Cricket's a team game and Broad has, in reality, been an all-rounder for England over the last year or so - contributing in both ways. Also let's be perfectly honest, if we're going to drop a young cricketer just because their out of form we should be dropping Ravi Bopara, whose average in this series is lower than broad's. Surely the main debate should be whether we put in Rob Key to bat at three instead of Bopara, rather than if we put in a dodgy Harmison instead of Broad or worse a bowler like Sidebottom who, like Onions and Anderson, won't exactly do anything if the ball isn't swinging - it would be almost akin to playing three spinners on a non-spinner's wicket.

  • Comment number 10.

    I am appalled by the booing dished out to Ricky Ponting. I hugely enjoy watching the best players play and Punter is truly one of the all time greats. As such he is more than deserving of repectful applause to the crease.

    Yes, I am desperate to see England win, but more than that, I want to see great cricket played competitively and in the spirit of the game.

  • Comment number 11.

    Personally, I find all this talk of selection irrelevant. I'm quite happy for the next ten days of Ashes cricket to be rained off!

  • Comment number 12.

    I remember Cork saying of Broad last year that he was "an absolute LOVER of his!" I bet in his time he got a fair bit of stick, but players can be a bit selective in their opinions when paid by Sky Sports.

  • Comment number 13.

    While I agree with Andy wholeheartedly, I doubt we can hope for that, even in England in August.

    So, to get back to the main point, I think Stuart Broad's biggest problem at the moment is that, rather like James Anderson's a few years ago, he is being asked to learn his craft as a quick bowler at the very highest level and that is very difficult to do. It seems to me that his best performances with the ball have come when Flintoff hasn't been playing and he has had to step up and perform. That said, assuming Flintoff's fitness, I would be very tempted to play Sidebottom at Headingley and give Broad the opportunity to get some rhythm and confidence back at Nottinghamshire. He's a great talent and should be a big part of the England side for many years to come, but we can't afford to carry passengers.

    One final thing. I don't really see what the fuss is about the booing of Ponting. I must admit I don't particularly like it, but I can't stomach people preaching about the spirit of the game in relation to the treatment of a man who has behaved so churlishly at times in this series.

  • Comment number 14.

    Anyone who says Broad is the 'future misses' the fact this is THE ASHES RIGHT NOW and we do not want the Aussies to retain the Ashes again. We've lost too many times. It's more important for English cricket to win these Ashes back now and the confidence from that will help the future a lot more than if Broad plays in a losing series. The 'future' that Broad supposedly personifies can wait - there is plenty of time for Broad to develop later on. There is too much thinking about the tomorrow that never comes in sport. Of course we need to plan and develop new players over the long term and Broad is of course a very good promising talented cricketer but we need results now.

    To be fair to Broad though he is offering as much with the bat as Bopara!

    I think Broad isn't quite there at the moment bowling wise and we need to look at the wicket at the Headingley and the Oval and also the series score and weather forecast in mind. We need to win the series. I don't think it is impossible option to replace Broad with an extra batsman (next question would be who?). Broad isn't taking wickets as the 5th bowler so why can't Collingwood/Bopara (who will not take wickets either) do the '5th bowler breathing space for the main 4 bowlers role' and bring in an extra batsman possibly an opener to play at number 3 and move the others down 1. The 1 problem with goign with main bowlers though is Freddie's fitness. Playing the extra batsman would make it even more difficult for Australia to take the 20 wickets they must. If we need to win at the Oval bring back Harmision or Sidebottom (the poodle). Australia only have 4 bowlers too and whilst struggle to take wickets themselves they are very solid with the bat.

    I think we need to decide to either go for the win and clinch the series at Headingley and play Sidebottom or Harmision instead of Broad, or look to defend first and bring in the extra batsman over Broad. Decide the tactics.

  • Comment number 15.

    Another enthralling match and thank you TMS team for the pleasure you bring to those of us not on the spot. One little niggle. I've noticed that there is quite a bit of semi audible background chit chat in the box this year and although it's not to my taste I'm sure it's there on purpose. But, please, please, please no mobile phone conversations in the background. People have a special voice for mobile phones - their "I'm on the train" voice. This morning we had somebody, actually he anounced his name but I'll spare his blushes (he was talking to Alan), with a penetrating "I'm in the box" voice. No more mobiles, please.......!

  • Comment number 16.

    With Headingley being swing-friendly, England should go for a win before going on defence at The Oval. Defense at this stage is too dangerous.

    Bowlers win matches. Sidebottom, if in form, would be a good choice. Not only does he swing the ball, but as a left-hander he would add variety to the attack, offering new lines. These new lines could be tougher for right-handers, and now specially for Clarke and Watson.

  • Comment number 17.

    Isn't there a case for leaving out Swann for either Sidebottom (my own preference) or Harmison at Headingley?
    Swann was ineffectual on the last day at Edgbaston. Headingley will be no more conducive to spin.
    Much as I'd love to believe otherwise, it doesn't seem very likely that that one glorious over will have put the sign on Ponting.

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    I don't get why people give Broad such a hard time.
    Ignoring for one second his valuable contributions with the bat that could see him one day replace Flintoff as a genuine all rounder, his ability with the ball hasn't suddenly vanished and at various stages his bowling in spells has been as good as anyones.
    As you point out in the article, it took him 50 overs to get the ball, by which time it was pretty much lifeless and therefore difficult to do anything with. It seems that people have sudddenly forgotten that he has bamboozled some of the best batsmen prior to this series against the Aussies and everyone is all of a sudden very short term.
    And assuming we did do the wrong thing and drop him, potentially harming his confidence in the process - who replaces him ?
    Harmison is not the future for England, but equally not the present either. Sidebottom could be the present but is surely a bit unnecessary with Onions and Anderson bowling well and Mahmood and Bresnan are not up to the level required at all. A rather worrying thought post this series in a world without Flintoff and surely justifying keeping faith with Broad in the last two tests here.
    Broad may not be doing what Simon Jones did so effectively in the last Ashes win, but he is doing a valuable job with the ball at times and improving with each test.
    Instead of criticising him and talk of replacing him, why don't we look at putting an arm around him, showing support and then privately make sure he is getting the best analysis and advice from the hierachy to get the best out of him. It is no shock to me that someone as analytical as Moores going has seen him look at times a little in need of direction. Young players need that and I wouldn't be surprised if he makes every critic eat their words later on in this test series.

  • Comment number 20.

    i can see both sides of the argument, broad has bowled some really high clas spells for england and is definately the type of self sufficient player we have been looking for since the nasser hussain / duncan fletcher revolution, someone who has the talent and the heart. id prefer him ahead of harmy, a man who consistantly failed to achieve fitness levels you would expect of a world class athlete despite being on a lucrative contract. i do think sidey, jimmy and onions would be too similar in height and pace though.

    the bigger concern is ravibop, he looks like he has lost all of his confidence. i suspected that his confidence was nothing but bravado to begin with and can now see why mikey holding was telling everyone he was not a number three - even when the runs were flowing. i hope ravi gets the chance to settle and play a defining knock to build real, test level self belief - im reminded of de villiers or duminy in that they announced themselves as mature, self contained international athletes, with big performances under the highest pressure. has ravi got the calibre?

  • Comment number 21.

    Anderson shoul have received the man of the match award.He took six of the Australian wickets (more than a third of the total) plus an absolutely stunning catch in the gully which isn't his usual position plus another one in the slips which didn't count because it was a no-ball.

  • Comment number 22.

    Regrettably, Ravi Bopara is not a Test player, by a long shot. I think a number of people got carried away by his heroics against a substandard WI attack. When facing world-class bowling, as we have seen over and over, hes like a deer caught in the headlights! This is certainly not what England expect from their number three batsman anytime!

    Additionally, his fielding is way, way below par. What are the selectors hoping for from this chap, may I ask? It is generally assumed, somehow, that he will play all five contests, but after that, then what?

    Chris Broad has done reasonably well to remain in the team, under normal circumstances. But these are not normal circumstances. England can ill-afford to allow the Oz to win the next match and then hold out for a draw at the Oval.

    Should that happen, well, you know what that means!


  • Comment number 23.

    It will come as no surprise when, tomorrow, an unchanged squad is announced, nor when the final eleven turns out to be the same. It is not the time to take gambles, such as bringing in Harmison, not at Headingley. If Flintoff is not fit, and I hope he will be because his performances, either with the bat or the ball are capable of inspiring his teammates and the crowd, then Sidebottom should come back.

    Whatever happens at Headingley will decide the series - nothing very original about that - and the value of a settled, unchanged team is easy to underestimate.

    Any eleven cricketers chosen to represent Australia deserve enormous respect. They will always fight to the death. But England are better than they are just now and we have an opportunity to prove it and bring the Ashes back where they belong.

  • Comment number 24.

    I am not a new member. See your comment to 23.

  • Comment number 25.

    It was past midnight in Melbourne when I gave up my lonely vigil at the pub and went home for some much needed rest. Yes, the pitch was flat and yes the Aussies batted better but I sensed England were a little too relaxed in the field. Where was the urgency in bowling; where was the sharp fielding and run-saving effort; where was the aggression? This series has a long way to go and you cannot take your foot off the pedal. I felt England just didn't apply themselves mentally to the task required. "It's OK we're 1-0 up" is going to cost us the Ashes. As a pom downunder - a plea ... ramp it up at Headingly and close the door early PLEASE!

  • Comment number 26.

    How fickle do we really think that the selectors are? To scapegoat Broad after disappointment at Edgbaston seems irrational. No, he may not be taking the 5 wicket hauls of Flintoff and Anderson but he is nevertheless essential to the team; at both Lord's and Edgbaston he's taken essential wickets - the greater importance of Ponting's should not be underestimated! His role as a fielder and batsman shouldn't be ignored either: Test cricket cannot afford to have a squad filled with specialists when the difference between winning and losing can come down to a few runs scored by lower-order batsmen!
    Moreover, I agree with those who question the benefits of changing the squad 3 tests in and 1-0 up - as much as cricket is about skill it is also about pressure and intimidation. Why drop a skilled and efficient bowler, bringing England down to the same level of squad-confusion as Australia, at this pivotal point in the series?
    Broad's spot in the squad - and for that matter the other squad member's positions - should not be questioned when England's latest chance to show off their dominance on the pitch was cruelly interrupted by bad weather. Can they regain the Ashes? I'd say that they're definitely up to the challenge!

  • Comment number 27.

    Drop Bapara!

  • Comment number 28.

    It is not a matter of scapegoating Broad -- he's a great prospect but not pulling his weight right now. Let's not forget that he started Cardiff opening and is now relegated to second change (at best). Keeping him in the side for learning could kill his confidence and/or career.

    As Fred Trueman used to say "if you bat a bit and bowl a bit at county level you can't do either at test level. We need the best specialist in each position, we have paid the priced before of playing too many not-quite allrounders before (Pringle, Ian Greig, Geoff Miller, Peter Willey, Chris Cowdrey -- sometime as many as three in the same side). Allow Broad the chance to hone his skills in the county circuit (with a good bowling coach?) for a while.

    Harmison is tempting, but if Flintoff's knee goes early and Harmy loses his karma then we'd be down to two quickies. . . . and down the Bramhall Lane without a paddle.

  • Comment number 29.

    I believe the biggest conundrum facing the England selectors is the taking of 20 Australian wickets. Flintoff's heroics aside, it has taken bowler friendly conditions for England to make real inroads into these Australian batters.

    While Broad offers more with the bat, Steven Harmison is, on his day, a match winner. Given the perilous state of Flintoff's fitness, England need to win the Ashes at Headingly.

    Harmison is a gamble. But on his day, he is the man the Australians fear most.

  • Comment number 30.

    The Harmison is a good bet, a worthwhile 'gamble', if you like!

  • Comment number 31.

    #6 bedshapedx
    Makes most sense to me.
    Bowling wise Freddie was no where near the spell he produced on the 5th day at Lords; awe inspiring. But change only in case of a fitness problem. If a spinner is deemed redundant at Headingley, a swing bowler could possibly come in for Swanny, one-off.
    'Batters bat and bowlers bowl' is far too tickety boo, Corky if you like. Any team would love to have multi-dimensional players like Broad and Freddie. At times (30%, say) you dearly need the tail to wag. Have we already forgotten England owe their 1-0 lead to their tail enders' heroics at Cardiff? It may well turn out that this Ashes were regained at Cardiff.

  • Comment number 32.

    Leeds could be a disaster.
    All Headingley has seen over the last few weeks is rain. the odd hour of sun hasn't made much difference to the ground.
    Its not the best draining wicket even after all the work done on it.

  • Comment number 33.

    I would not worry about upsetting Broad's confidence by dropping him. He has been through much and nothing seems to dent it (Yuvraj's 6's, the Holland run outs etc). He was under pressure when he walked out to bat on Saturday to produce something and not only did it, but got right up the Aussies noses in the meantime! He seems very composed. If he is dropped, so be it. But there's a bit of an animal in there to come back in the not too distant future. He won't be one that drops off the radar easily.

  • Comment number 34.

    Why are people so against the dropping of Broad. If baffles me. Yes he is the future, yes he is going to be a fine all rounder and after this series after Freddie retires he'll fit rather nicely into the number 7 slot. In fact I'm sure that when Broad retires he'll have more wickets, runs, 5 wicket hauls and centuries than Fred. But right here right now England need to win one more test match and the ashes are back. Try to draw the next two and Australia will be running back down under thankful the pomms couldn't finish them off. Drop Broad now, explain to him why and get someone else in to help take them important 20 wickets. Then put him back in the side for the SA tour which should teach Broad a thing or two away from the intense media glare of the ashes. Because at the end of the day if we loose the ashes now scape goats will be called for and it would be shame if anyone pointed at Broad.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hey, let's all have a go at Broad, we need a scapegoat!
    This is the thread of this article. OK he has not shone this series, but some other players have also been poor at times as, Pieterson for one and possibly Bopara and Cook, but no witch-hunt for them. As for Cork's comments he needs to move into the modern era. As another contributor said most players need to be able to bat a bit, look at Australia. If we cannot guarantee that our top and middle order can pile on the runs then we must lengthen the batting lineup as far as we can. If we are skittled out for a low score it inevitably means that time at the crease is also low and the opposition have plenty of time to get the runs needed twice if necessary.
    The Aussies seem to have the patience and to be able to bat for extended periods whilst not playing many loose shots, we don't and Strauss, Cook, Bopara, Collingwood should learn from this.
    We need a balanced side, and I would love to see players such as Sidebottom and possibly Harmison return, but if their, and other bowlers performances against top class teams fails to deliver wickets when there is no swing ot action off the seam the we have to bat longer and sad to say hope that we draw due to time.

  • Comment number 36.

    Harmison for Broad.
    Ramprakash for Bopara.
    Rashid for Flintoff. (Save for The Oval)


  • Comment number 37.

    I can't see how you can argue for keeping him in the side, he's taken 6 wickets at around 60 and almost all of the spells he's bowled he's chucked down several 4 balls and relieved any pressure that the other bowlers have worked up.......... yes he'll be better in the future but for the sake of winning the Ashes he needs dropping, in my opinion for Sidebottom - but then again if it doesn't swing for him he'll be ineffective so a tough one - I haven't seen much cricket at Headingly recently so don't know how effective/ineffective Harmison would be there.......

  • Comment number 38.

    England have played well so far and are more than holding there own so why make changes to the team? I am by no means an expert, but I reckon that we can beat them at Headingley.

  • Comment number 39.

    Broad was very low on confidence but that fantastic knock of 55 did alot to boost him again. Yesterday he was bowling some very quick delivery's and looked like taking wickets again, his lower order batting will be crucial in this series. If i was to make one change for headingly it would be Sidebottom in for Flintoff. I would let Flintoff have a rest and recover for the final test.

    Harmy is not the answer, Harmy can be very loose and expensive as well and i think that its too big a gamble right now.

    As for the poster who said Ramps in..... Really???

  • Comment number 40.

    I think it may be time to give Chris Woakes a chance. Great bowler, now has a big hundred to his name too. (it'll wreck my fantasy team though...)

  • Comment number 41.

    he seemed to be bowling the best of our bowlers yesterday, not that this will be taken into consideration for certain arguments. and asides from these Ashes tests he has been in good form, however i do think he'll take a lot of confidence from his work in the last match

  • Comment number 42.

    To follow up someone else's point, all bowlers have to bat in the match. All batsmen do not have to bowl. It is a real asset to have multi dimensional players. For instance Jimmy Anderson can only be admired for the work he has done on his batting and fielding. Both teams bat deep. This is not a time to create a weak link in the batting with KP already out.

  • Comment number 43.

    Please, please, please DO NOT bring back Harmison. For a start, he was hobbling off against Sussex. Secondly, if the rest of the team don't acknowledge that he's the best bowler in the world ever and that it was a mistake to ever have dropped him, he'll sulk and moan like the overpaid prima-donna that he is. Third, if the Aussies fail to oblige his ego and get out early, he'll exact a cunning revenge by bowling a load of tripe, standing in the outfield sulking and then blaming his lack of penetration on everything/everyone but himself. I'd rather have Cork playing than Harmison. At least he took pride in playing for England.

  • Comment number 44.

    # 43
    Its a very grim picture you paint! Surely it can't be that bad.

  • Comment number 45.

    Agree with this article on Broad. His runs should not justify his place.
    We are overlooking a certain Ravi Bopara though who surely must have played his last test of the series! Who will come in for him?

  • Comment number 46.

    Some of the arguments about Broad show what happens when you take a superficially reasonable line of argument then twist it out of all recognition. Geoff Boycott would be proud. Yes Broad is in the team for his bowling, but you need to take the cricketing package he offers. A batting average of 30 is not to sniffed at; not only that he plays shots and can attack with the bat if England are chasing as they were in the 3rd test first innings. If Broad were only doing that however then he wouldn't be worth his place (even though he is averaging more than a number of the batsmen). But he isn't. He has taken 6 wickets so far..not a great haul but one less than erm Flintoff...and he scalped Ponting last test. There's no way he should dropped for Harmison. If Flintoff can't play then pray and play Harmison and hope he's got out the right side of bed and hasn't stood on one of his blisters while doing so........

  • Comment number 47.

    Im not sure we can drop Board, our batting looks weak.

    Cook at 2, Bopara at 3, Bell at 4, Collingwood at 5.

    That lineup does not exactly set the house of fire. Ian Bell was lucky to get to 50, was Plum LBW once, and to be honest even the 2nd one i thought was out in real time. Cook and Bopara are not performing with the bat, and Collingwood got out with another loose shot when we where still in trouble at that point. (159-4).

    So now balance, Flintoff doesnt look fit, and he really should fit out this game for one final push. if he misses out bring another bowler in and push broad up to 7.

    However if Flintoff plays, and you want to get rid of Broad, Harmison cannot Bat, nither can Sidebottom. So if you wanted to do that you would have to make a change at the top of the order, because you cannot have that many Batsmen not perform.

  • Comment number 48.

    I agree that Broad should be dropped. We should go with the form man in Harmison - surely it's time selectors started taking notice of county cricket? Broad could do with learning his craft in the County Championship for a bit.

    On that point, Rob Key is now in great form in the Championship and should come in for Bopara. Bopara is clearly talented, but just seems to lack the mental strength to build a big innings - he has now failed in 5 innings. If we insist on playing Bopara, we should drop him down to 5 or 6 and play Bell 3 and Collie 4. Bopara is more of a shot player, and may prosper down the order against an older ball and tirig bowlers, as have Prior, Freddie and Broad this series.

  • Comment number 49.

    What's wrong with booing Ponting? That's what you're supposed to do with pantomime villians!

  • Comment number 50.

    Rob Key and Harmison should not come into this side. Harmy actually limped off yesterday so may not even be fit.

    England need the strength in batting depth so Broad should also not be dropped. I would like to see Sidebottom have a chance should Flintoff not be fit or even for Swann should headingly not be a good track for spinners.

    Bopara will come good and Colly has again been Mr consistent this tour.

  • Comment number 51.

    "If Flintoff does not make Headingley, then Broad's position is secure "

    If Flintoff isn't fit, I don't see how Broad can possibly play.

    England's batting is fragile enough as it is. Replace Flintoff with SiBo or Harmy, and you've weakened it further.

    The only way to get a balanced team, without Flintoff, is to pick the extra batsman, and go with yuor 4 best bowlers. And Broad is not one of our best 4 bowlers. At Headingley SiBo, Onions, Anderson, Swann are.

    The idea of Broad moving up to 7 fills me with horror. Our tail is suddenly extremely long. You've got Bopara and Bell at 3 and 4. It's a horrible, horrible batting lineup.

  • Comment number 52.

    Hoggard anyone???

  • Comment number 53.

    Broad is not a test class bowler, his strike rate of over forty should be enough evidence of that. Maybe he will become one but there is very little evidence of that at the moment.
    Since Broad has arrived on the England scene his bowling has not improved at all, in fact I think he has deteriorated since his debut.
    Broad is similar to Harmison in the fact that when he is really needed and the pressure is on he doesn't step up to the plate, he does in fact bowl worse.
    As for his batting, his runs are useful but like his bowling he rarely does it under pressure, his scores almost always come when we already have a decent score. Unlike Swann and even Anderson when the pressure is on he can't keep his wicket.
    Sidebottom is a superior bowler who can swing the ball and his strike rate is far superior to Broads from a similar ammount of matches.

  • Comment number 54.

    'Swann was ineffectual on the last day at Edgbaston. '

    it was a 3rd day pitch. He has taken important wickets of top order players, offers control, and offers wth the bat too.

    Broad took a couple of token wickets when the Aussies had already saved the games.

    Personally I think we should bring in a 3rd opener to bolster the top order and drop Broad. Whilst he does score some runs down the order these are always bonus runs and he can run out of partners etc and the tone of the overall score set by the top order. And I would not want to rely on him to save games. We need to get 2 recognised batsmen scoring big in partnership at the top. The forecast is for rain at Headingley but also a decent batting wicket, the demon swing wicket is a stereotyped thing of the past there and runs can be scored. Given Australia seem to be getting stronger and stronger on batting I think it is unlikely whoever we pick to replace Broad would win us the game. So I think we need to ensure Australia do not take 20 wickets in the rain free windows that are left and to do that we need to bat better and earlier in the innings.

  • Comment number 55.

    England are trying to win a series here and at 1-0 up i personally feel that runs is the highest priority. These two teams are actually very evenly matched and will both go for the big runs.
    If England Drop Broad they could lose some very important lower order runs.

    Sidebottom stands a good chance of getting wickets but only comes in to replace Flintoff (if he is unfit) or Swann (due to pitch conditions. Otherwise dont change a thing.

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm not a big fan of Broad's bowling, but he was the best bowler yesterday, the other seamers conceding more runs and bowling too many wide deliveries that could be easily left alone.

    Swann bowled some rubbish in the second innings, too many full tosses, for for me was bowling far too fast and flat in a situation where England needed wickets.

  • Comment number 57.

    I dont see how anyone can justify leaving Broad out. Cork may be annoyed at the suggestion that Broad's batting is important but maybe he should remember that his own career would have included far less caps had he been a rabbit with the bat himself.

    Who is actually a better choice than Broad with the ball anyway?

    Harmison MIGHT be, but then he might just blow up and be useless like he has done before as well. Him bowling well in county matches is promising yes, it shows that his technique is good and rhythm is sound at the moment, but his problems have always been between the ears rather than physical. Should he go for 40 off his first 5 overs we might be carrying a dead player for four innings, at least if Broad bowls poorly it wont be THAT poorly AND he will still contribute with the bat more often than not. For me Harmison needed to be showing this form last season, so tht he could have been brought in earlier, now is not his time (though given Flintoff's absence I don't see a better option to come in).

    Sidebottom is possible but I would hate to think of just how rubbish the bowling lineup will be if it does not swing with Anderson, Onions and Sidebottom all in the side. Anderson is a decent bowler without the extra help but nothing special, the other two turn into pure stock bowlers without it. At least Broad can offer something different as he can bowl very effectively on a straight pitch due to getting better bounce and speed. If England can be absolutely sure of the swing then perhaps he should get the nod, but they will be putting everything in that one basket as there will be no bowling plan b and probably 20 runs les as well.

    The more obvious decision that England have to make is regarding Flintoff. I genuinely worry that playing him at Edgbaston would be too much for him after his exertions already. On a pitch that is unlikely to be friendly to his pace and bounce just a few days removed from a test where he looked below par to start with we could end up carrying him for the second innings and losing him for the final test. It might be negative thinking but the worst we can end up after this test is 1-1 with the decider still to come. I would much prefer a fresher, fitter Freddie coming in at 1-1 than entering the final test 1-0 up with him broken down or not able to play at all.

  • Comment number 58.

    How come Bresnan's name seems to have suddenly become forgotten? We want 'killer' (Sidey) for Broad for the next test and if he can't play due to injury then I would bring in Harmy for Fred. If there is any doubt on Harmy's fitness he should not get picked and if he wasn't retiring at the end of the series then I think Freddie would probably already be having a rest. Sidey can also bat. Fred papered over the cracks in the top order at Edgbaston, despite the rain, and Bopara did not get a big score again. However I think he will retain his place and then we might see one of the is Enley??...joining the first team when the result if beyond doubt.

    The one thing that I have yet to see any figures on is how Broad has performed with Freddie in the side and then when Fred isn't in the side. I am sure his performances have been worse when he isn't the centre of attention...also Broad has played enough test matches now that he should no longer be allowed the excuse of growing into test cricket. My Indian colleague says if it wasn't for his last name he didn't think that Stuart would be in the side at all...I didn't really know what to say to this.

  • Comment number 59.

    those who say the runs scored by broard are relatively unimportant are plain wrong. it's true that you cannot win unless you take 20 wickets but it's also true that you can quickly lose if you don't score a lot of runs.

    England's top five are very vulnerable, four of them were in the collapses tat took place in Adelaid and again in Jamaica.
    The lower middle order are of, fredie, broard and swann offer some insurance against a complete collapse.

  • Comment number 60.

    I think people saying that we need Broad's runs clearly shows the problems we have with the bat, there is no consistency and we cannot rely on Bopara to give a good innings at the moment and Broad can pick up the slack with the bat... maybe we should give Bopara a couple of overs with the ball... :P

    Sidebottom and Harmison would give the attack some aggression which, more than anything, will pull this tight aussie attack out of their shell a bit more... push an Aussie and he'll push back, then he'll be more susceptible to making errors.

  • Comment number 61.

    I do not think the bowling attack should be changed for Headingley if those who played the Third Test are fit. England have a 5 bowler attack with all of them taking wickets. The England Selectors have achieved a good balance with this team with a good lower middle order, 5 wicket taking bowlers and improved fielding.

    As for Stuart Broad I think the Bowling Coach should work hard with him in the time left before the next Test and sort out some of the issues. In the past I have liked the variety he has mixing up his pace, line and length. He has bowled the cutter succesfully in the past; the cutter is a wicket taking delivery and he should use it more often. I have been disappointed not to see more variety from Stuart Broad so far in the Series building on what he has shown in the limited overs version of the game.

    For me the concern I have with this team is the batting at number 3 as I think Ravi Bopara has some distance to travel if he is to become that
    player who can handle the new ball and post a large personal score.

  • Comment number 62.

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

  • Comment number 63.

    "How come Bresnan's name seems to have suddenly become forgotten?"

    Because he's average and rightly shouldn't even be mentioned. He does a good job for his county, but he's nowhere near Test class with bat or ball.

  • Comment number 64.

    After 20 matches Broads average is over 40. The facts speak for themselves. Sidebottom from 21 matches has an average under 28. I'm fed up of seeing England build up the pressure only for Broad to come on and get knocked all over the place.

    A lot of Broad's wickets come because of rash shots because the opposition are making hay off his poor inaccurate medium pace bowling.

  • Comment number 65.

    I'd keep the team as it is, Broad included (if Flintoff doesn't make it I'd bring in Harmison). England are doing pretty well and I don't see the need to change much (except perhaps Bell 3, Collingwood 4, Bopara 5 - let Ravi flash the bat around like the middle-order stroke player he really is)

    Our bowling is good in English conditions - sure, it wouldn't do so well elsewhere in the world, but it doesn't matter because we're in England... Face the facts: Australia have been under more pressure than England in the last two tests. Yesterday, there was a chance (admittedly a small one) that England could've beaten Australia in just a little more than three days play.

    As an aside, it is starting to bother me that test match pitches don't seem to break up as much these days (I know Edgbaston was only a 3rd day pitch, but even so). Doesn't it mean that spinners are not going to be match winners any more?

  • Comment number 66.

    #4 - "On his day Harmison is the best fast bowler in the world."

    Agree. The difficulty is that you could say that about probably another 10 or so fast bowlers across the world. Including Mitchell Johnson. On their day they can all be devestating. The challenge of selection is a) picking a player who will have 'their day' when you want them to, and b) making sure its 'their day' more often than 'not their day.' For Harmison it has not been his day too frequently in recent years.

    However, the interesting thing about Harmison is that he poses a threat even when bowling badly. In recent series in this country he has bowled some absolute tosh but returned relatively respectable figures in comparison to the other bowlers involved. The danger for batsmen facing him is that even when his radar is off, the pace and bounce he generates will ensure the odd unplayable delivery every couple of overs. Begs the question as to why we couldn't have a test at Old Trafford.

    I'm torn over Broad. I think he is a very effective all-rounder who is maybe suffering from the reverse of the expectations placed on Fred at the beginning of his career - maybe he is a batting rather than a bowling all rounder. With Fred in the side this balances out, but if both are having a bad day with the ball then we are definately going to struggle. The wicket at Headingley will be the key and, not having seen it, I honestly can't give an opinion as to who should be in the side.

  • Comment number 67.

    England saved by the rain, again

    Their luck has surely run out

  • Comment number 68.

    My humble opinion (for Headingly only) is to drop Freddie and Swann, we will need them both for the Oval. Bring in Sidebottom and Harmy, giving us a good 5 man bowling attack - though it will rely on Cook and Bell to establish themselves in the batting, Bopara and Broad for this game need to be stuck with. If Harminson does well, then keep him for Broad or Onions (depending on conditions) in the last game. Of course if suddenly it is 30 degrees for a week in Leeds then we may need two spinners, but I somehow doubt it!

  • Comment number 69.

    Why would we need to consider dropping Stuart Broad who is surely a bowler for the future and who needs to be gaining experience. In fact if you look at the figures from the match they were very similar if not better than Flintoff's. Surely if anyone needs to be dropped its an unfit bowler who is planning on retiring at the end of the series any way. The Ashes are too important to be used as a swansong for a retiring player!

  • Comment number 70.

    Broard along with probably many of the England team needs a rest. England have been playing cricket, of one form or another, almost without a break, for far too long. more of them should have been rested during the 20x20 world cup. Broard is a young bowler in development and 2x20 is not the place for him at this stage of his career.
    I agree he bowling coach must take him in hand and help him decide what type of bowler his is.

  • Comment number 71.

    Personally if flintoff is fit I would drop Ravi, I think he needs to go back to county for a while, and I would move Broad up to bat next to Flintoff to learn from him during his last few tests. And you would have to include Sidebottom over Harmison, as he has proved repeatedly that if theres no swing he can still ball danger balls and can win matches

  • Comment number 72.

    We need Broads batting.

    we can't drop him. I would stick not twist with the series set up the way it is

  • Comment number 73.

    Two swing bowler should be enough if it is swinging. So Anderson and Onions - unless Sidebottom is chosen ahead of Onions, but I can't see the selectors making that call.

    Flintoff if he is to play must be able to bowl flat out and intimidate. If he cannot do that then Harmison must come in for Broad so that there is some real spite in the attack. If Flintoff is out then I would go for moving Broad up the order and bringing in Harmison. Requires having faith in the middle order, which I would have, though I can see the appeal of dealing with Flintoff's absence by dropping Broad and bringing in Key and Harmison.

    Either way, looking forward to the next two test matches ...

  • Comment number 74.

    Under normal circumstances I would agree with Corky that bowlers' runs are bonuses. However, it's a conundrum whether to push for a second win with a fiery front-line attack or err on the side of caution and attempt to close each game out first by putting runs on the board. If in just one of the four innings the top order fails (and I fancy Lee when he comes back), then the middle order and tail will have to (erm) step up to bat. I reckon one bad innings and the Aussies retain the Ashes. Is that sensible, or is it an over-cautious attitude pre-destined to reap defeat?

  • Comment number 75.

    It seems that people here are just going with the flow on Broad, take a look at the series and match stats.

    Anderson 12 wkts at 31.5 SR 59.5 - 127-6 at Edgbaston
    Onions 8 wkts at 27.87 SR 41.7 - 132-5 at Edgbaston
    Flintoff 7 wkts at 48.57 SR 89.1 - 93-0 at Edgbaston
    Swann 6 wkts at 57.5 SR 100.0 - 123-2 at Edgbaston
    Broad 6 wkts at 57.5 SR 95.0 - 89-2 at Edgbaston

    Flintoff did not take a wicket in the match, perhaps this is why we couldn't force a result?? Is a half fit Flintoff worth his place?

    Only Anderson and Onions have stats to rival the Aussie bowlers, although the English wicket hauls are particularly low due to only taking 6 wickets at Cardiff.

    Broad's stats are very similar to Flintoff and Swann, no one is talking of dropping them. Broad needs to get back to what he does best, nagging accurate containment in the mould of Glenn McGrath.

  • Comment number 76.

    Stuart Broad is one of the most overrated bowlers i have ever seen.

    Twenty tests and he has not improved his bowling, indeed he seems to be getting worse.

    Get this blue eyed boy back to county cricket where he belongs!

  • Comment number 77.

    We should play the following team for the final 2 tests. Bat as long as possible and pray for a bit of rain!


  • Comment number 78.

    'The Ashes are too important to be used as a swansong for a retiring player! '

    What are you talking about?
    A guy who won the test at Lords and made us safe and into a possible winning position with his batting at Edgbaston.

    You seem with the above comment to express the belief that the 'here and now' is the most important something I agree with as a rule. But you also say

    'Why would we need to consider dropping Stuart Broad who is surely a bowler for the future and who needs to be gaining experience.'

    which is a total contradiction of that. I don't care how good Broad will be in x years he isn't delivering now so get him out with either a bowler who will take wickets or a batsman who will score runs to put us in a winning position or save the game. Not a few nibbly runs at the bottom of the order.

  • Comment number 79.

    Why can't we take a leaf out of the Australian Camp, they didn't drop Johnston, because he didn't perform in the first two tests, because he is a class bowler. We should keep faith with Stuart Broad, his is our future, he is a quick learner. I bet he becomes one of the leading wicket takers when we tour Australia in 18 months time.

  • Comment number 80.

    'a few nibbly runs' that's a little unfair. Broad has scored the exact same number of runs as Bopara in this series. Broad test batting average is remarkably similar to Flintoff would you consider those to be nibbly runs?

  • Comment number 81.

    I think a lot of this criticism of Broad is a bit harsh. Cardiff was a horribly flat pitch, Freddy stole the show at Lords, and from where I was sat at Edgbaston yesterday I thought Broad looked like our best bowler (of their 2nd innings). Remember hes there as a good batter and our 4th quick- Im not sure in any test team has a better 4th quick bowler than Broad?

    Id leave the bowling lineup as it is (or Harmy in for Freddie if injured), and I dont watch enough county cricket to know if any better batters are out there than those currently in the team. I would however move Bopara down the order to 6 or even 7- remember when we did this for Bell against Pakistan (I think?!) and he suddenly found loads of form

  • Comment number 82.

    Cork is, of course, talking nonsense, at least in the context of the resources available to England at the moment. England have a very fragile upper order and need all the runs they can get from anywhere in the side. Arguably they're already a batsman light with Prior batting a place too high at six. In the absence of a genuine all rounder (which Flintoff isn't these days, despite his recent heroics) then you need at least three bowlers who're capable of making a fifty at test level. Flintoff, Broad and Swann come into this category (call it the "collective all rounder" approach).

    This makes selection very tricky. As previous posters have pointed out, on any objective view of things Bopara's place should be far more vulnerable than Broad's (he's not doing his primary job of making runs and his fielding is almost in the Panesar class) but it's not easy to see who should come in for him (please spare us the cries of "Robert Key", who wasn't test class five years ago and isn't any better now), especially given the absurdly short time between games. If Flintoff is out then (despite the above) I'd bite the bullet and pull in another batsman from somewhere to bat at six (or allow a reshuffle of the order which would allow Bopara to go there). The question then would be how to reshuffle the attack. Anderson and Onions clearly have to be there on current form. Sidebottom can bat a bit and offers a different line but England would be a bit stuffed if the ball didn't swing- Broad at least offers some variety in that regard. Harmison is a gamble both in terms of his fitness and his frame of mind. Swann has done nothing wrong all series and is part of the "collective all rounder"- but how many wickets do spinners take at Headingly. Not an easy choice and very little time to make it in.

  • Comment number 83.

    Harmison bowls great all summer and doesn't get a look-in.

    Sidebottom takes five wickets in a match and all of a sudden he is the answer.

    I don't get it.

    If you put Sidebottom in all you are doing is adding another bowler who is dependant on the ball swinging to take wickets. Harmison can at least generate pace and bounce to get people out.

    Comment 1 is correct - our current bowling attack depends too much on the right conditions. If we get the wrong conditions (e.g West Indies) we look average.

  • Comment number 84.

    Agree that not dropping Broad because he's one for the future and it will affect his confidence are poor arguments. But the line of reasoning for dropping him after the third test is equally poor in my view. If he was going to be dropped it should have been after the 2nd test. In the third he batted well, bowled poorly in the first innings then bowled well in the second innings. Those that say he bowled well in the second innings only when (and because?) it "didn't matter" are applying retrospective judgment. England didn't bowl out Australia in the second innings despite Broad's contribution not because of it. If other wickets had fallen then Broad's bowling contribution in the second innings would have been crucial. Agreed Broad's bowling stats both for this series and more generally are not at the level they should be, but they need to be placed in the framework of his overall cricketing contribution and when you look at the stats in detail there are perhaps some arguments to be had...he has in this series the largest number of maidens per over of any English bowler - so the argument, for example, that he only gets wickets because the opposition are trying to smash him around the ground is suspect. I think he should be kept for the next test but I'm not sure about a partly fit Flintoff. Yes he was immense at Lords and gave a great innings this last test but he clearly he wasn't fit enough to bowl properly. Unless he is definitely fit enought to perform with the ball for this test, he needs to be replaced, with the hope that he can return for the final test.

  • Comment number 85.

    Harmison comes in for Broad. We need to take the Australians by the throat because if we win the test at Headingley, then we will take an unassailable 2-0 lead. Personally I'm frustrated by the negative mindset - the Australian batting line-up is formidable on paper but Ponting has had a relatively poor series, Hussey has been in and out of touch while Watson and Katich are good, but hardly the stuff of nightmares. Flintoff, Harmison, Anderson, Onions and Swann should take the game to the Australians, while Swann and Anderson are both competent batsmen and Broad has only made one score in the series so far. He's hardly a consistent run-maker and has been all but toothless so far with the ball in his hand. He needs a rest.

    This Aussie side is there for the taking. So let's stop pondering and worrying and go for the victory at Headingley.

  • Comment number 86.

    ' Broad has scored the exact same number of runs as Bopara in this series. '

    yes Bopara has been awful too, which is something we should also address, so saying Broad is the equal of Bopara is not a point. Broad takes no wickets so if he is there to bat we might as well bring in a proper batsman! If we need someone else to fill in a few overs with the ball give it to Collingwood.

    'Broad test batting average is remarkably similar to Flintoff would you consider those to be nibbly runs?'

    No because anyone that looks at anything past averages and understands crickets knows there are differences here.
    Broad has his average over less time than Flintoff's. Freddie's batting has power and initiative and he can put in the big innings at the right time which can turn or win a match. Yes Broad's batting is useful and good for a number 8 but he can be a 30 or 40 man which is good but not the same. So please don't compare them.

  • Comment number 87.

    Of course, if Flintoff can't recover in time - and I have my doubts about whether it would make sense to force him in when he might be unable to make a contribution so soon after the last test - then Broad has a clear claim for the number 7 slot.
    But assuming Fred is fit, why would we continue to select one poorly performing bowler over another who is in fine form? Because of his future? I don't doubt that Stuart Broad will have a long and distinguished test career, but that should never guarantee automatic selection for every match. After all, Andrew Strauss has been dropped in the past, and has come back very strongly; if this is a wise approach for an England captain, why not for a young bowler?
    As Dominic Cork has said, we have some useful batsmen in the lower order, players who shouldn't collapse at the loss of the sixth wicket. Swann in particular (and Swann and Hauritz should both expect to play on a Headingley pitch that takes spin much better than it once did) is very capable with the bat, and makes for a fine number 8; England would not suddenly have a batting crisis if Harmison or Sidebottom were drafted in to the tail.
    Of course, such considerations are quite beyond the English selectors. Stuart Broad is in the side, therefore he plays. Harmison has had some poor games under circumstances that do not suit him (particularly travelling overseas, with no time to pick up his rhythm), and thus is a risk, not to be trusted. That Harmison is far more deserving of a place in the side than Broad at this point in time, that Harmison would be far more likely to play a key role in a victory, and above all, that Harmison is feared by the Australians in spite of 2006/7, all these will be ignored by the selectors.
    Broad is the man in the job, he's had a good innings with the bat, and therefore, he stays. Don't rock the boat, don't risk defeat, and never, ever try anything different; such are the principles of selection to the England side.

  • Comment number 88.

    I do not agree that Broad should spend time in County cricket to get more experience.As we are kept being told , County cricket is not Test cricket.Stuart broard is a massive talent and deserves to keep his place.How can you score a 50 then get dropped.That does not make any sense. It only proves to me that Broad has the temprement for Test Cricket to score runs on a regular basis.He is the natural replacement for Flintoff when he retires from Test Cricket. Please get off Broads back and lets support our young talent

  • Comment number 89.

    How about dropping Bopara and lining up a bowling attack that will actually worry Australia?
    England should open with Strauss and Cook, then Bell, Collingwood, Prior, Flintoff, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Onions and Harmison. There is a collective sigh of Australian relief every time Harmison is left out of the squad. If you view Flintoff and Broad as all-rounders supported by four specialist bowlers then this an attack that could win the series in the next test.

  • Comment number 90.

    If Flintoff misses out, the logic suggests Broad bats at 7, wherein his batting becomes more important and his bowling less so as there'll be four front line bowlers to support him.

    If Flintoff plays, surely Broad has to be dropped? Flintoff provides the runs down the order. People talk of Broad's 'bonus runs' batting at 8 - well if we took wickets more cheaply we wouldn't need these bonus runs!

    No one can convince me that Harmison wouldn't be a more threatening bowler than Broad. And taking for example 4 for 100 (easily achievable for Harmison) means a wicket would be falling per 25 opposition runs, therefore Aus score approx 250. With Broad bowling they'll each average another 5-10 runs, but Broad wont score a century to make up for this.

  • Comment number 91.

    Oh goody - Harmison takes lots of County wickets, so suddenly he's a genius. Er......Broad also took plenty of wickets at county level. Harmison - to quote Oliver Brett "also gave Australia plenty of problems when turning out for the Lions just before the Ashes." Oh yes - you mean that man Philip Hughes, the one Australia dropped for the 3rd Test!!!

    Before being fianlly dropped, Harmison spent THREE - yes THREE years underperforming in the England side and offers an average of 11 runs against Broad's average of 30 runs. In first class cricket Harmison's Bowling Average is LESS than 3 better than Broad 27.73 v 30.70 andeven at Test level he's only 8.5 better than Broad and their Test Economy Rates are virtually matching (0.03 apart). At barely 23 years old, Broad has already scored only 75 RUNS short of Harmison's career accumulation at Test level. He's also the youngest or 2nd to reach 50 test wickets.

    Give the guy a break - Harmison peaked years ago and couldn't even hold down his position at the top of the World Bowling rankings. He's inconsistent and certainly no more reliable than we've already got.

    I prefer a player [Broad] that will slowly improve to a player [Harmison]that burst on the scene in what now seems like ancient history and has done very little memorable for England ever since.

    I'm a Glamorgan supporter, so I have very little interest in favoritism, unlike the pitifully biased Ian Botham on Sky Sports, brilliant cricketer (and normally) brilliant commentator though he is.



  • Comment number 92.

    Get Harmy in. Rest Fred. And go with that. Strauss, Cook, Bell, Bopara, Collingwood, Prior, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Harmison, Onions.

    Note swapped Bell and Bopara round because Ravi is no number 3.

  • Comment number 93.

    #87 Perhaps in a team that has a strong upper order yes but I think you underestimate just how shaky the England batting line up currently is. Of the lower order Swann and Anderson have both made runs along with Broad and Prior's contributed from the middle. But the fact is they've all had to this series. Leaving out Bell's one innings average only Strauss in averaging over 45. And yes no sane batsman in the world would want to see a fully in rhythym psyched up Harmison charging into them. And no sane England cricketer wants to see the Aussie batsmens' grins when an offmatch Harmison delivers a yorker to second slip.

  • Comment number 94.

    Atleast its nice not to have the wicketkeeper position up for debate, or if Prior drops 1 catch and scores 20 runs will his position come under fire again?

    All thoes people that are suggesting Harmison or Sidebottom (as it would seem now) it throws the entire balance of the team out of line.

    Quite frankly our 2,3,4 and sometimes 5, cannot be trusted to score runs on a regular basis. Ian Bell is not a test player, i dont care what anyone says but it was a miracle he made it to 50 without getting out. Cook and Bopara need to bring their games into line, far too many loose shots they have got out to in this Series.

    Not counting the opening 2 Sessions at Lords where Australia basically gave us the Win with their rubbish bowling. Cook has not done alot either.

    So really if you to break is down like that

    Cook, Bopara, Bell, Broad and Swann should all be dropped for the next test.

    Good thing its a teamgame.

  • Comment number 95.

    Name the same team I say. No, Broad hasn't taken many wickets yet in the series but I think we need to trust him to come good. I don't think Sidebottom is any more likely to bowl well and I don't like the idea of making an unenforced change like this: reminds me too much of the Ashes series in the 90s where we'd have an entirely different attack by the last test as opposed to the first. The England management / Strauss need to take some responsibility as I don't feel they've themselves figured out what Broad's role in the side is.

    In the selectors' minds, I wonder who Sidebottom really is cover for. If Flintoff is injured, it seems predetermined that Harmison comes in - unless his blisters prevent that, which is where they turn to Sidebottom.

    If that's the case, perhaps Broad's place isn't really under threat at all?

  • Comment number 96.

    Does anyone remember what happened the last time Harmison played in an Ashes series? Nuff said!

  • Comment number 97.

    no 88 Saying "Broad is a massive talent" I'm afraid there is no proof whatsoever to support this arguement.

    Also I will say again Broad only scores runs when the pressure is off, when we need him to hang arround he's out quickly.

  • Comment number 98.

    I've always wondered why England always seem to put up the idea that lower order runs are needed and vital to them. To me it's saying our batsmen ain't good enough to get enough runs on the board to allow the bowlers to attack.

    Yes, lower order runs are useful, however a the bowlers job in a test match is to take 20 wickets as without those 20 wickets you will not win no matter how many runs you score.

    To that end you need bowlers who will take wickets. Broad is not doing this at the moment. Send him back to county cricket for the rest of the season to let him get into the groove and start learning some more.

    Replacement - for me it has to be Harmison.

  • Comment number 99.

    I think both Flintoff and Andersen should be dropped for the simple reason that they are so self-opinionated that it is unbearable to look at them. Seeing the wimpish Andersen and the nerdish Flintoff swagger around is nauseating. It is not surprising that poms are so detested and ridiculed.

  • Comment number 100.

    I would never drop Broad, he'll come good eventually and where would England of been in the last test match without his runs? It would of been Australia's for the taking. With Flintoff, Anderson, Swann all bowling well, it's not a disaster that Broad isn't taking many wickets, it's rare for all 4 bowlers to be on fire in a test match. Replacing him with Harmison too, county cricket is a lot different to test cricket, do you not remember 2005? He couldn't hit 6 stumps let alone 3.


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