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England lack cutting edge

Jonathan Agnew | 18:37 UK time, Sunday, 13 July 2008

There is no doubt about who will have benefited the most from South Africa's obdurate performance at Lord's today - Andrew Flintoff.

As well as Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie batted, and they did play very well indeed, England's bowling attack was exposed on a flat pitch as lacking a cutting edge.

They needed someone to charge in and produce short spells of hostile pace bowling, as the ball did not swing for James Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom and even though they plugged away, that left them with very little in reserve.

Stuart Broad did his best to bang the ball in, but lacked the pace on such a placid surface to give the batsmen the hurry-up.

Ryan Sidebottom endured a frustrating day

What we won't know until we see the Headingley pitch is whether Flintoff will come in as one of four bowlers, or five.

It would be a brave decision for England to bat Flintoff at six because Tim Ambrose has looked increasingly vulnerable at number seven and Lancashire's coach Mike Watkinson admitted today that Flintoff needs more time at the crease.

Positively, however, he added that in Lancashire's view, Flintoff's ankle problem is now a thing of the past and that he is bowling as well as ever.

But that issue is for another day and in the meantime, one wonders what more England could have done with the resources available to them.

Monty Panesar could certainly have bowled more than only two overs at Smith from round the wicket as the South African captain had little difficulty in dealing with the rough outside off stump when Panesar bowled over the wicket, because he could not be lbw.

Round the wicket opens up that option, and I thought England missed a trick there, but credit must go to Smith and McKenzie, who came so close to becoming only the second pair of batsmen ever to bat through an entire day of Test cricket in this country.

It was not great entertainment, but backs-to-the-wall defiance never is, and the start they gave to this innings has left South Africa with a hope of saving the game.


  • Comment number 1.

    I think SA will save this game. England have failed on so many occasions like this before, ( V Sri Lanka, Australia, where we lost in Adelaide).

    You need a Shane Warne in situations like this. England have a Monty, not the same.

  • Comment number 2.

    i would like to see Flintoff back in a 5 man attack, but not as a 4 man attack, as i dont think any of the England bowlers currently deserve to be ousted. if we are worried about our batting with Flintoff in the team i would be tempted to drop Ambrose for a wicket-keeper in good form with the bat, like Prior for example, in this situation i think it would be worth the risk of any drop in the keeping skills!

  • Comment number 3.

    Wot a turgid "ugly" day of cricket, 2 runs an over for 90 overs and only one wicket! Unless we bowl them out shortly after tea tomorrow we wont have time to chase down a target that, by that time, will be 100+. Is anyone else getting fed up of these Lords draws now?

  • Comment number 4.

    very disappointing day for england today could have been very different if they appealed when smith nicked one and mckenzie was given out for the plumb lbw from monty 40 for 2 would have been much different but still lacked the killer touch after this i dont think flintoff has really done enough yet 3 wickets in 2 innings hardly sounds like it will scare the africans but sidebottom is average oh well nil nil with 3 to play

  • Comment number 5.

    A real weathervane aren't ya. One day they're world-beaters then lacking this and that. Consistency please, Mr BBC.

  • Comment number 6.

    The Lords pitches are much too flat these days, as in fact are many international cricket pitches.

    I agree with pt41tt1, why didn't England appeal when Smith nicked one? Monty was unlucky not to get that lbw on McKenzie, but then he wasn't given a plumb one against Harris in the first innings either.

    The umpiring hasn't had a major effect on the game but there have been too many mistakes, no least poor old Strauss, lbw from a ball pitching outside leg!!

    Not much fire from the bowlers today, it shows that they are not really dangerous bowlers when they need the ball to swing to get wickets.

  • Comment number 7.

    Was a boring days cricket but then im English!On the face of things i think England have surprised the south africans and there wont be as much tub thumping from them from now on!!!
    With a day to go its got a draw written all over it!!!Lets hope we win the toss at headingly as our bowling attack will need the rest.
    Still think England to win the series 2-0

  • Comment number 8.

    i was at Lords in the Mound stand and it was heartening when one person behind me shouted "boooooring" about 4 or 5 people immediately turned round and advised him to (ahem) 'go away and come back for the 20 over games then'.

  • Comment number 9.

    Whatever the reason Ryan was England's least impressive bowler today. Looks like he needs a rest. Do we have a top class fast/medium bowler who is fully fit, with a proven track record and who can bat a bit waiting in the wings to replace Ryan? That would be nice...

  • Comment number 10.

    South Africa showed us the worst of cricket today. Their openers were brilliant in their defence, however they did nothing to promote test cricket with the threat of Twenty20 looking ever more fearsome. They showed no desire to go out and win and test match against all odds, and as such, robbed the game of any potential excitement. There will be tickets on the door all day tomorrow for sure, and the South Africans are to blame.

    England obviously played their part too. Sidebottom does not enjoy bowling at Lords and Broad and Anderson also had turgid days. With this in mind I believe it is time to cut our losses and drop Collingwood in favour of Flintoff. Yes, he is the one day Captain. But his batting this summer has been nothing short of awful and his bowling offers no pace and nothing to test the batsmen. At the moment England's all rounder is Broad and the selectors would be foolish to drop such a promising young crickter, who could become one of the finest in the World in years to come.

    Lets hope the selectors see Collingwood's writing on the wall and drop him in order leave it up to him to play himself back into form like Strauss did. Collingwood is a good cricketer, but he is in no way a must for the test side when every man is proving their worth to the team when it matters. Bell's (almost) double ton was the final nail in Collingwood's coffin for now. With any luck he'll do what Strauss did and show everyone that he can still play, but every international player needs to feel the threat of being dropped.

    With the Ashes coming up and England's test team exiting a period of immense change, it is time to nail our colours to the mast selection wise. Anderson goes for runs but takes wickets, as any attacking bowler does, Sidebottom is a permenant threat and Broad has not only vast ability but great potential as an all rounder player. Add Flintoff to the mix and England become a formidable side. Today we were shown up as a team without a true fifth bowling option when push comes to shove and that is why Flintoff must return at the expense of Collingwood, until he can prove his worth.

    International sport is a competetive arena, and there is no room for players who are "out of form". English cricket is at a major turning point, what with the IPL and (much more importantly) an impending Ashes series. We need to show that test match cricket is still the highest form of the game and in order to do that we must be ruthless. We outclassed the South Africans at first, so lets do it again. And also make that steps are taken to ensure that over the next few years test cricket asserts its authority over Twenty20.

  • Comment number 11.

    8: must have been like watching paint dry -enjoying the tms comm. though -a decent team now that dullard Fraser has gone and Selvey has upped his game. Major bonus is Tuffers who's showing that he absorbed some wisdom during those years in the Middlesex dressing room. Pouhatch needs to cut down a little on the sports jargon and paint pictures better for the listeners but for a newbie's doing reasonably well. CMJ as usual gets top marks despite the worrying taste in music (Keane?!) he revealed!

  • Comment number 12.

    Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie have responded well with their three digit knocks. Congratulations to the centurions.

  • Comment number 13.

    jfewery, your so right. We do lack a bowler who can scare opponents into mistakes. Flintoff is someone who can do this and should be picked instead of colly, who is desperately short of confidence!

    Keeper is a worry though, with Ambrose struggling with the bat. I think the selectors should think about replacing him with Read maybe, and then giving him a long run in the team.

  • Comment number 14.

    £75 for a ticket today - glad I didn't succumb to my initial thoughts - what a boring day of cricket - all credit to the South Africans who batted superbly, and England did their utmost to prise them out admirably - BUT with no success. If the ball's not swinging we're stuffed - the Flintoff debate will go on and on, but in my opinion he needs more overs. Simon Jones is another bowler on everyone's lips, and based on current form I'd go with him rather than Freddie. If Sidebottom's back strain rules him out of the next one, I'd go with Jones as replacement

  • Comment number 15.

    Personally, I think England should drop Collingwood for either Flintoff/Jones, and drop Ambrose for Chris Read.

  • Comment number 16.

    Three changes for me at headingley:

    1: Sidebottom OUT - he's not had a good summer and needs now becuase of his stifff back. Simon Jones IN - he's shown this summer with worcestershire that he is finally ready for international duty again. Him and Anderson bowling at Headingley in tandem would be an incredible sight unless your the batsman.

    2: Collingwood OUT - as much as i like him, i think he needs to go away, rest then play some Pro40 matches ahead of the ODI series. Shah IN - how many times should he have played for us over the last year yet wasn't? at no.6 he should fit in quite comfortably.

    3: Ambrose OUT - shame he promised so much in New Zealand yet like so many others has been hit with a dreadful run of form. Read or Foster IN - how much do these guys need to do before they are even looked at? Both exceptional glovemen and both have extremely good averages this year.

  • Comment number 17.

    I totally disagree about you having a go at the Saffers. If England were in the same position you'd expect the exact same thing. They were never in a position to win once England posted that huge total (A**lide aside)Two great knocks by the openers that's now put them in a good position to save the match. It wasn't pretty but that's all part of test cricket....

  • Comment number 18.

    well, well, well. England supporters complaining about defensive batting ! After watching them hardly get it off the square for years you've got some cheek ! If England had been batting it would have been all 'brave defence' , 'great scrappers', 'heart of oak' and all dunkirk spirit.
    And maybe those 'workmanlike' Kiwis weren't quite so bad after all. Oh, and while were at it, can you please bowl 90 overs in a normal days play, just once !

  • Comment number 19.

    eEngland today lacked true pace. That of which Andrew Flintoff could bring but the problem is that he has yet to have any kind of major score with the bat in 4 day cricket. Also when the ball doesnt swing england have trouble. Only Stuart Broad was clever enough to use cutters and variation to try and get batsmen out. Englan also lack a match-winner or someone who can do something special such as Shane Warne.

    Of course the team will probably remain the same for Headingley but sadly there are a number of spots which again need debating.

    WICKET-KEEPER: no-one has yet to replace Stewart but after some shoddy displays by Ambrose it could be time for a good gloveman such as Read or Foster to come in, both men are having good county seasons.

    NUMBER 6: Sadly the end for Colly is near. One-Day yes, Test no. Simply doesnt offer the bowling we need for a 5 man attack. FLintoff should return but his batting is a problem with no major scores recently. This place could be filled by an Adil Rashid soon who along with Broad is an upcoming all-round talent

    Bowling: For me Sidebottom or evn Broad could go. ANderson for me has come on leaps and bounds but in all honesty this is Sideys first real test in test cricket and he isnt doing all that well. The two options to return to the side are Simon Jones who is doing well at worcestershire constantly bowling fast and getting a bit of reverse swing too. The other is Hoggard who is a consistant line and length bowler, well you know wht he can do!

  • Comment number 20.

    On Day 3 the bowlers were brilliant; On Day 4, which quite often happens, when they have made a team follow on they start to get jaded and the batsmen go on the defensive. I think with a 4 man attack that was fairly likely to happen. lets hope tomorrow they can get a couple of early breakthroughs.

    If Flintoff is coming back then it will have to be at the expense of Collingwood. He would be a far more effective 5th bowler, and, even though he's not batting well, he couldn't do much worse than Colly in his current form. As a bit of insurance I'd also replace Ambrose with Foster who is on fine form for Essex.

  • Comment number 21.

    Many thanks for the usual brilliant entertainment from the TMS team.
    However sorry to say 2 negative points:
    Firstly Mark Pougatch is obvioulsy a broadcasting professional and very knowledgable but is he really right for TMS ? He comes across as more an effusive red top sports writer than the steady hand we have all come to expect from TMS. I have often wondered whether I have tuned to Talksport !
    Secondly Shaun Pollock is a great guy but a very monotonous voice with, frankly, not a lot to say.
    It has got to the point that if they are on together I turn off.


    Once again many thanks for really good entertainment.

    John Anderson

  • Comment number 22.


    That pitch is as flat as a pan, very very few bowlers would have gotten much out of it. SA had absolutely no need to try to score runs, they just needed to sit it out. Any top class test batter of decent temperament ought to be able to hang out a few hours on that. especially once the new ball is gone.

    Anderson managed a fairly hostile spell to Amla later on with the new ball, might almost have had him with more luck, but even if you had four Fred Flintoffs in this side, you'd have been lucky to take more than 2 or 3 today.

    If there is anything to take out of this game, it is that England did very well indeed to knock SA over for 250 odd in the first place.

    We can only hope that a few cracks enlarge overnight. Slow pitches with nothing in them like this do nowt for test cricket.

  • Comment number 23.

    As Sidebottom is injured we should drop him with Collingwood; replace them with Flintoff and Simon Jones. Personally if I had to choose between Flintoff and Jones I would go for the latter at the moment. Jones seems to be back (or near to) his 2005 best.

    Our bowling attack seems very traditional swing bowling focused presently. Dare I say it but would Harmison do something today our bowlers couldn't- with some bounce and venom- and get a vital wicket earlier on in the innings? I'm beginning to understand why we stuck with him. Flintoff can offer some bounce and venom too but he's no opening bowler.

  • Comment number 24.

    and people like to knock Colly - but according to TMS, he was one of the few to actually trouble the openers today - maybe the slightly slower pace and a bit of variation had more to offer? who knows.

    As far as wicket keeping goes, we should look for someone who is a natch at standing up to spinners - Pamesar needs a foil behind the stumps.

  • Comment number 25.

    I don't think anyone should be too surprised at what happened today. The Lords' wicket, once again, was at its slow and easy best. Noone could expect South Africa to fail again, especially against an England attack that is very diligent but lacks the killer touch, a seamer or spinner that can do the extraordinary in conditions that do not really favour him.

    I agree with almost everything that fjewery says, but I am sure he must realise this is test cricket. If the boot had been on the other foot, he would have been hailing Smith and McKenzie's performance tonight as a valiant rearguard action, rather than referring to it as "the worst of cricket".

    I was introduced to test cricket in 1953: we hadn't had a TV for long. I will never forget the excruciating partnership between Willie Watson and Trevor Bailey on the last day of the second test at Lords, which enabled England to go undefeated to the Oval and regain the Ashes after so many years. I don't remember the media criticising Bailey and Watson for not providing entertaining cricket. This was a test match, war against the eternal enemy with a team that included Hassett, Harvey, Miller, Benaud, Davidson and Lindwall, and the others weren't bad. So Bailey and Watson were national heroes, just as Smith and McKenzie might be tomorrow night in Jo'burg if they escape defeat.

    Enough reminiscing. For the test that begins on Friday, we should welcome back Freddie, provided he can get to the ground without crutches. He should replace the unfortunate Collingwood, whose time may come again. It is worth remembering that Collingwood came into the team in the 2005 Oval test when Jones was injured; he got the nod ahead of Tremlett. All a bit weird when you think about it. This may have been the moment when England, without other options at the time, went over to a statregy of four bowlers which has not really changed since then and has certainly not been a success.

    If Sidey is not fit on Friday or, maybe even if he is, Jones should come back. The idea of Flintoff and Jones lining up in the attack for the first time for so long is one to whet the appetite.

    Finally, I agree with the bloggers who say that Chris Read should be recalled and given a new, extended, opportunity.

  • Comment number 26.

    Speaking of boring,some of us are still around and remember Boycotts efforts to put us to sleep.For me,he comes over better on the radio!!

  • Comment number 27.

    Monty shows no desire what so ever to try to develop a ball that goes the other way or any real variations. Does he not see that he is not improving at all despite having played international cricket regularly for well over two years.

  • Comment number 28.

    10. What a pathetic point of view. The "worst of cricket" and "the South Africans are to blame"?

    You mean to tell me that England would have gone for the win - not only erasing a 330 run deficit in two days, but also setting enough of a target to bowl at in a second innings? Ridiculous.

    It's comments and complaints like that that cause T20 to erode Test cricket, instead of celebrating what was a resolute display.

  • Comment number 29.

    Johnathon, do you think England missed a trick when they enforced the follow-on so hurriedly?

    The way i saw it, England had just spent a day in the field and, although having done well, could have done with a rest. South Africa, on the other hand, were all ready to go with another Innings and most of the players wouldnt have been ready to take the field.

    So, my view is that England could have said 'no, actually we'll go and have a quick bat'. Im not talking big batting here, just 20 overs or so, maybe even in Twenty20 style with Pietersen opening the batting.

    Give South Africa the run around for 45 minutes in the morning, before declaring and giving them a good hour before lunch.

    The whole idea being to upset their rhythm and, potentially, bowling them out much more cheaply than is the case now.

    Of course maybe i wouldnt be saying this if we'd have taken 5 wickets today but still!

    I'd be interested to hear peoples thoughts on this?!?!

  • Comment number 30.

    I have been away and without Internet since lunch on Day 2. Coming back and seeing the scorecard I am stunned to see people moaning when most fans seemed to think:

    (i) That England's first day dominance would not last


    (ii) Most fans expected us to lose this Test and the neutrals expected us to be blown-away in the series.

    I seem to remember phrases like "England are a very mediocre team" and "England are nothing like as good as they think that they are" and "South Africa will find England out".

    To have scored 593-8d and then taken a first innings lead of 350 and enforced the follow-on, has been a pretty stunning turn of events compared to what we expected.

  • Comment number 31.

    If any of England's bowlers deserve to be dropped after that performance, then ALL of South Africa's bowlers, with the possible exception of Morkel, should be dropped as well.

    It was a very flat pitch, and it just shows how well they bowled, or perhaps how poorly South Africa batted, in their first innings.

    I really hope all four bowlers remain together for the next Test - unless Sidebottom is not fit enough that is. The question about Flintoff now seems to be whom he will replace rather than if he will return. In that case, I don't see what the problem is with bringing Flintoff in for Collingwood; sure, Flintoff might not have scored many runs recently, but neither has Collingwood!

    I don't think it's time to be dropping Ambrose just yet though. I would give him to the end of the series to prove himself - he certainly has the ability with both bat and gloves to do that. I remember how well he played in New Zealand, and I remember quite a few experts and fans saying that we had "finally solved our wicket keeping problem". While I don't think he's the complete package, I don't believe that changing wicket keepers mid-way through a series will do any good, especially as there is no outstanding candidates waiting to replace him, just a few good ones that have question marks over their heads too.

    I still want and expect England to win this match. If they don't, it will be a huge blow to their confidence and I think they'll struggle for the rest of the series.

  • Comment number 32.

    Mentioning Andrew Flintoff is obvious in the extreme. Flintoff was part of the England attack and bowled 38 odd overs himself in 2006 v Sri Lanka when England could not bowl Sri Lanka out a second time in a similar Test.

    Plus Flintoff has not been getting that many wickets for Lancs although bowling well it seems.
    Simon Jones is bowling great and taking many wickets but would the selectors risk him?

    After Saturday's success-a rearguard SA reply was always on the cards. Tomorrow though could again be a different story. If England get 1-2 early wickets-they will be back in it. It could get very interesting and I hope it does.

  • Comment number 33.

    Wonderful test match cricket. OK, so the wicket is too slow to compare it to one or two 'heroic' Atherton innings of the past, but never the less this sort of stuff is a 'test' for both sides, and potentially sets up an enthralling day 5, although the draw does look the mosr likely.
    Yet again the 'must axe somebody' brigade are out. Drop Sidebottom? (unless injured), Have you've lost the plot completely? This blog should be included in the OED under the definition of 'fickle'.

  • Comment number 34.

    For Goodness sake.
    The clamour to get Flintoff back in the side is all we hear.
    The Lords pitch is a flat batsmen`s paradise.
    South Africa do have some great batsmen and they lived up to their potential today.
    England bowled well without any luck.
    Who is to say that Flintoff would have faired any better on a lifeless track.
    I am a fan of Flintoff,but the England side has worked very well together and has a very good spirit.

  • Comment number 35.

    I really think England lack real fire power in the bowling department.

    For me a fit and confident Harmison or Simon Jones would be able to get more out of this pith than Sidebottom and Broad. However i think Broad is great cricketer and for now the number eight we have been waiting for since Giles.

    A five man attack including Flintoff for Colly and Harmison/Jones for sidebottom gives England a greater variation in attack. Hopefully the batting would keep clicking as i do consider that the english batters prefer quicker bowling than spin. Also if we do come across a test match pitch that offers assistance to the SA quicks then the inclusion of Flintof Harmison or Jones should be a good thing as these three are just as capable of bowling 90mph and getting bounce as the SA three are.

    Does anybody think that the reason for such a placid Lords pitch is so the match will go into a 4th and 5th day so revenue isnt lost?

  • Comment number 36.


    Come on England !!!
    Just finish it off !!!
    Frankly I was hoping you guys would go for the jugular yesterday. Of course South Africa fought well and all credit to them.

    England has been very impressive. We are indeed awed. I have said this before - the English press does pull up their team often and even England fans do berate their team when a blip arises. But this time England seems to be doing much better.

    Looks like you guys could pitch for the No.2 ranking in Tests !!

  • Comment number 37.

    I think people are getting too hung up on the fact we only took 1 wicket yesterday. As someone has already pointed out, there is no guarantee Flintoff would have done any better.

    The bowling from England look tight, didn't seem to be giving too much away. Credit to SA, backs to the wall and they've showed great determination and grit to give themselves a chance of saving this match.

    England made 593-8d and people have said "Its a slow pitch, so they should" yet the same people now seem to be saying "our attack is weak because we haven't bowled SA out" You can't have it both ways

  • Comment number 38.

    The Test match is heading towards a draw. One would not have thought so before the beginning of day four. To avoid the embarrassment the African had to give no chance to Monty, and how well were they equal to the task. On the last day the turn around for England can only be fetched by Monty.
    Graeme Smith and Neil played innings in the face of an innings defeat and should be given all credit lest the visitors finish the job. that at the moment seems more than probable.
    With this performance now the Africans will come back hard at the hosts. Life would not easy now on for England as it had been against the Kiwis. Well, they had a clear advantage and opportunity to do the same to the Proteas but let the latter go off the hook. I would be very surprised if England go on to win this series after their failure to demoralise South Africa.
    Andrew Flintoff will any day make the XI. I think England are too fastidious in their approach. People with extraordinary talents do not get back into form by playing in insignificant matches. Virender Sehawag is a case in point. After being shown the door a little a year ago he was told by the selectors to get back his form by playing in domestic competitions and he came off wretchedly. So such ploy does not work with players with special abilities, I guess.
    The only worry with Flintoff was his fitness, and with all people close to him vouching for his being fit, he should be brought back into the team before long.
    England must put things in order before they take the field for the second Test otherwise they will have nothing to do but wringing their hands in despair.

  • Comment number 39.

    It seems unbelievable to me that Flintoff is even being considered at the moment - his bowling, while the Lancashire coach might say is fine, has ben totally overshadowed by Saj Mahmood in the last several games, and, more to the point, surely of all the county bowlers Simon Jones would be the sensible choice this year? His stats are amazing, and apparently he is bowling fantastically. AND the next Test's at Headingley.

    It just makes me fed up, all this desperation to have Flintoff back just because he's popular. But they will pick him, and he'll probably bowl alright, but if he does play, it will be a disgrace if he plays above Ambrose and a bit odd if he plays above Broad...

  • Comment number 40.

    Tough on Sidebottom (the injury) - and how quick some are to forget his form of the last year.

    Seems to me it's primarily the pitch: SA have three quality fast bowlers and still lacked penetration over two days as England ground them down. So it is hardly surprising that England should have the same problem and that 20 wickets are a slog. A draw would be a very good result for SA, but really a consequence of the wicket's offering so little to bowlers.

    Incidentally, I agree with the comment above about Mark Pougatch not being up to the mark as a TMS commentator. Despite his obvious enthusiasm as a generic sports fan, he seems to lack any understanding of cricket. His commentary is overexcitable, inarticulate, lacking in insight, and hence inadequate. (Why not give Alison Mitchell a go commentating, rather than that ridiculous and demeaning roving reporter business?)

  • Comment number 41.


    Probably was a hasty call, perhaps too carried away with knocking the South Africans over relatively cheaply. The problem now is that come the next Test the bowlers will have bowled for the best part of three days straight, no wonder Sidebottom is feeling the strain. Vaughan made this mistake in the Ashes 2005, England only just got away with it. I thought the weather would play more of a part, but even then with a lead of over 300 runs and two days to go England could have added a quick 100-150 and declared with four sessions to bowl South Africa out. We'll be lucky to get them out much before tea and face chasing maybe 150+ in a session

    I can't believe some are calling for Read's recall, if Flintoff comes back the only batting of any substance between six and eleven will be Broad who can't take wickets same as Read can't score runs.

    Read batting

    1999 : 38 runs @ 9.50 (HS 37 vs NZE))
    03-04 : 161 runs @ 17.89 (HS 38no vs BAN)
    06-07 : 161 runs @ 26.83 (HS 55 vs PAK)

    Broad bowling by series

    vs SRI : 1 wkt @ 95.00 (SR 216.00, ER 2.64)
    vs NZE : 8 wkts @ 31.25 (SR 63.00, ER 2.98)
    vs NZE : 7 wkts @ 43.57 (SR 78.86, ER 3.32)
    vs SAF : 2 wkts @ 71.50 (SR 114.00, ER 3.76)

    So at the moment Broad looks better than Giles with a bat, while Read got some runs against an ordinary Pakistan side but was badly exposed by the Australians - 11.67 average with most of his 35 runs in a 26no. We can't afford to bring back Flintoff at six and put in someone equally unreliable, if not worse, with the bat as keeper.

    Will the supposed policy of not changing a winning side be scrapped or changing a drawing side become the new policy? The real policy is make it up as you go along, whatever you feel like at the time. I guess the policy of not dropping the captain hasn't changed

  • Comment number 42.

    I think it's a bit harsh to blame the english bowlers, coming into this match all the talk was of the South African pace attack and then we scored almost 600 against them. It's a slow flat wicket and most teams would struggle to take 20 wickets on that pitch.
    I would give Freddie the time to get some time at the crease before we bring him back, we are playing very well and do not need to rush him back as we usually do, only to be disappointed when he does not perform or gets injured again.

  • Comment number 43.

    I find the number of people calling for Sidebottom's head staggering. How can people have already forgotten his performances in 2007, which won him the honour of being England's player of the year. After one or two bad performances we're thinking of abandoning him? It took a lot longer than that to finally drop Harmison after years of underperforming.

    Flintoff coming back in the side will certainly improve the bowling department but, despite Collingwood's poor performances lately, will weaken the batting line up. It's a decision that has to be made one way or the other. Personally I think it might be wiser to drop Collingwood for a few games (a la Strauss) to regain some form at county level, but replace him with a batsman, Shah or Bopara perhaps. I'd keep the current bowling quartet together for the time being, although if they can't make some inroads today, and don't give a good display in the second test, I'd think about bringing Simon Jones back in, probably for Broad.

  • Comment number 44.

    I find this so amusing. If England had batted slowly to save a test in the same way it would have been a "gritty", "fantastic" day of real test cricket.

    That is how I saw it. I was riveted.

    One more thing. Did I hear booing from the Lords crowd when Graeme Smith got his century?

  • Comment number 45.

    Aggers, I think you've done our owlers a bit of a disservice.

    They bowled brilliantly in SAs first innings to enforce the follow-on, and Jimmy Anderson had Amla in real trouble with some short-piched stuff - although I agree it could've been a more prolonged barrage.

    I'm worried that Flintoff is not as fit as he could be - yes, he's not injured, but his side injury was a direct result of the loss of core strength caused by not bowling much, and as far as I'm concerned he can't get enough overs under his belt before he returns to England duty.

    It is an absolute necessity that he is fully, 100 per cent both match-fit and fit if he is to form part of a four-man atack, and there is no wat he has ben, is, or ever will be a Test match number six, so part of a four-man attack he must be.

    It seems the selectors minds have been made up for them with the injury to Sidebottom, but on current form Flintoff should be a direct replacement, not come in as an all-rounder. He should bat at 8, between Ambrose and Broad, although the latter's form provides an argument for Freddie to bat as low as 9.


    Of course the other option is to give Simon Jones a recall, as he's played more cricket than Fred this summer so has had a better chance to test his body over a longer period.

  • Comment number 46.

    I'm amazed that we all get excited about such a great England innings on such a dull pitch. SA took a beating in their first innings purely because they were worn down from a hard day in the field. They crumbled, but what difference a good nights rest makes. Now we are slating the England bowlers for not performing. On a pitch like this I can't see much excitement..... but where are the yorkers ???? I'm tired of watching the ball fly past the off side with no need for the SA batsmen to even make a shot ! I would love to see Broad hammer the oppositions toes relentlessly on this pitch, because it isn't going to offer up much as we have already seen.

  • Comment number 47.

    We must have five bowlers, four is not enough on good pitches against South Africa.

    Flintoff in for Collingwood please. Also Prior in for Ambrose (or perhaps swap Ambrose and Broad in the batting order).

    If Sidebottom's back is playing up, bring Simon Jones in. 29 wickets at 13 for Worcestershire. This would be harsh on 12th Man Tremlett, but I'm not sure he's up to test class.

  • Comment number 48.


    I heard no booing from my seat in the Tavern Stand, just the respectful and mostly standing ovation that he deserved. Likewise for McKenzie.

    As we were watching the match, my brother was telling me about an article he had read which cited a peice about test cricket from many years ago, which described a run rate of more than two runs per over as "irresponsible slogging." I think the Johnny Come Lately's who are criticising the Saffers need to learn a thing or two about the five day game.

  • Comment number 49.

    Oh, and kudos to Jimmy Anderson.

    I've been worried by his hit or miss returns recently, and have long thought that he needs to develop an extra string to his bow whereby if it's not swinging he keeps it tight, like Hoggard, rather than going for four an over, like, well, Anderson!

    In this Test he seems to have done that, so nice one Jimmy - keep up the good work!

  • Comment number 50.

    I'd like to see Flintoff in for Collingwood, Foster in for Ambrose and Hoggard in for Sidearse.

    No chance of it, I know.

    Must be quite annoying for Harmison who was told to go back to Durham and take wickets - exactly what he's done - and he doesn't even seem to get a mention any more.

    I like Simon Jones, and would dearly like to see him out there for England reversing it again, but I think he's too fragile. He might last a test, he might last a whole series, but the chances of him hitting the ground running for the Ashes next year are just too slim.

    I don't support the view that Vaughan should be dropped. I believe in his captaincy and experience, and those who don't think he deserves his place on captaincy alone would do well to look up one Mike Brearley. My only question over Vaughan would be him batting at 3, but the openers look good as they are, KP is concreted in to 4, Bell finally looks right at 5. So that only really leaves 3.

  • Comment number 51.

    i was watching the 4th day from the grandstand. it was an 'old fashioned' day of cricket with some workhorse bowling and some steely defensive batting. not exactly pretty but impressive in its own way.
    i don't think you can fault the bowlers particularly, but what i would say having watched it from 'side on', is that monty should vary his pace much more. he never bowls a high loopy ball, all the balls are bowled in around the 56 mph mark. you would have thought having just played new zealand that he would have learnt from vettori, who can't spin the ball anywhere as much as monty, yet who varies his pace so much through an over. if monty added pace variation to his armoury he would be a better bowler for it.

  • Comment number 52.

    So because in one innings the England attack hasn't fired we have to bring in a new player. We weren't complaining in the first innings.

    If Flintoff is to make his comeback, I could not see a reason for replacing a batsman, At this present time Flintoff doesn't seem to know which way to hold it. And Judging by how well Sidebottom, Broad, Anderson and Panesar have been bowling I wouldn't replace them either.

    Yesterday if England had taken there chances, E.g. Ambrose's Dropped catch of the bowling of Pieterson. And some luck had gone England’s way, rather than all the edges dropping short or going into gaps.

    You cant slate a bowling attack on having chances and them being put down, or the luck not going their way. Plus they were not leaking runs all over place. Sidebottom 18 overs 6 maidens and 23 runs.

    Its ludicrous that just because Flintoff had a huge role in the ashes series of 2005 and was on form with batting and Bowling, people want him back in the team. That was three years, three injuries and a pedalow ago. Also on his presant form He Cant Bat.

  • Comment number 53.

    to be perfectly honest i feel that most people in this blog are talking total rubbish!
    drop sidebottom? are you all mad! hes bowled brilliantly well over the past year and one average game and he's got to go, hes injured and bowling on a rubbish pitch so y does he deserve to go for doing only what he could?
    its fair enough though if he gets left out next time round if he is injured.

    and the other thing, bring flintoff back, why? hes scored no runs and taken no wickets for lancs. its like us now with collingwood in the side for the chance that he might come off.

    i think a change is required though obviously collingwood should go and do what strauss did and find some form, maybe shah should replace him?
    and then ambrose has had a good run but he just isnt up to international standard, maybe prior should get the long run in the side that ambrose got
    and then in terms of bowlers i dont feel the need for change yet but if sidebottom is injured then maybe mahmood should get another go, he was by no means the worst ever test bowler, he,s been in great form recently and he has that extra pace lacking in the attack
    what do people think?

  • Comment number 54.

    It is very surprising that no body is looking at Trescothick for bringing him back to the English side in both forms of the game. He was one of the best performers among the english batsmen when he disappeared from the team. This season he is getting so many runs and he should be a good replacement for Andrew Strauss, secondly, he also can form an openning pair with Cook in one day cricket.

    Harmison and Flintoff, two of the other seniors, should also be brought back as second and third pacer, where Anderson
    should retain his place as the first chice among the new ball bowlers. if sidebottom is injured, then Hoggard should replace him.
    I think, it will be too much of hurry, if Broad is dropped, he did well in New Zealand and impressed with his bowling after coming back home. He needs the time which was given to Harmison, Anderson or Hoggard in the past.

    Geriant Jones , the former wicket keeper is also in good wicketkeeping form, this season. He surely, can be the best man to replace Ambrose, because of having international success earlier. But, is it really a right thing to deselect a keeper who has not played his 10th test match, but already has impressed people with his performance in both,keeping and batting? certainly, he should retain his place in next two tests, otherwise it may send a wrong message to the young players, who are performing in domestic cricket for getting a chance in the national side.

    There are several ways of selecting a squad for succeeding on a temporary basis.
    But, to build up a side of 11 regular performers and 5/6 talented reserve bench players, time has to be invested behind the highest run scorers and wicket takers in domestic cricket. It is to be controlled entirely by the system, and the process should not be disrupted or discontinued because of one or two series losses.

  • Comment number 55.

    Seems like the usual anti-England writing from Jonathan Agnew.

    "England lack cutting edge".
    Which side has bowled out the other for 240 in this game and which sides attack has floundered and gone for 590 odd? Despite having the pace Agnew seems to crave it didnt help South Africa one bit in Englands innings in far more favourable bowling conditions.

  • Comment number 56.

    I was wondering whether Sidebottom was known to have a sore back when the decision to enforce the follow-on was taken ?

    With the wonderful benefit of hindsight, maybe England would be in a better position now if they had batted, say for another half day or so to put them out of sight, taking advantage of the still-improving pitch and giving Sidebottom some recovery time.

  • Comment number 57.

    I feel that England's team between now and the ashes should include Matt Prior in place for Tim Ambrose my reason being that Prior is a better batsmen and in form and I would bat him at 6, Flintoff at 7

    Collingwood to be dropped there for you can have a five man attack that has brought England success in the past and i would personally bring in Sajd Mahmood for Sidebottom, the reason for this is that Mahmood is much quicker and does swing the ball both orthodox and reverse and would be useful on flat pitches ie the current lord's test pitch

    Any thoughts anyone?

  • Comment number 58.

    Its taken as said that Flintoff will return and on form should be at the expense of Colly. Maybe consideration could be given to replacing Stuart Broad as well. Admittedly his batting has been impressive and he undoubtedly has a bright future but to date his bowling has not been too effective. The success that Simon Jones is currently enjoying with his ability to reverse swing the ball surely warrants a place in the starting eleven. Harsh on Broad but he's young enough to come again and we need our best team on the pitch to beat the South Africans. Which brings me nicely to the subject of Wicket Keeper. As a gloveman Ambrose is poor, his batting appears to have limitations as well which will continue to be exposed at the highest level. Perhaps the time is right to give James Foster another chance. Finally we have heard a lot about South Africas fast bowling options, people have short memories. Apart from the 3 quicks in possession we have 4 Ashes heroes waiting in the wings....firepower to match anyone no doubt we just need to make sure we get the right personnel on the pitch.

  • Comment number 59.

    Thanks to Agars efforts to get rid of harmison we have an attack restricted to swing. All the bowlers have done their best but variety is needed at test level.

    So is the bright answer is bring back flintoff ?

    I am a big fan of flintoff but has he a track record of not breaking down ?

    Harmison has been bowling 12 overs spells.

    He has worked hard for Durham.

    So please analyse the probem correclty.


  • Comment number 60.

    Monty shows no desire what so ever to try to develop a ball that goes the other way or any real variations. Does he not see that he is not improving at all despite having played international cricket regularly for well over two years.

    thats just not true. hes spoken quite openly about him trying to develop a doosra, but you can't just throw it in in a match. Saqlain Mustaq developed his for SIX YEARS before unleashing it in a test.

  • Comment number 61.

    legendaryselector (#54): Trescothick has retired from all international cricket. That was his own choice, for his own personal reasons, and there seems to be nothing the selectors can do about it.

    Your selection choices live up to your name - you seem to want an almost complete return to the 2005 Ashes team, don't you? Times have changed and the team has too.

  • Comment number 62.

    i can't believe people are actually saying Harmison should be bought back. it doesn't matter that hes not a swing bowler, hes still awful. he might be taking wickets at CC but he cant make the step up to test level. a year agoi he was takign wickets at 18 and still, when he came into the test side he was about as useful as a chocolate teapot. When was the last time he had a good game for england? anybody? he had that one game against Pakistan at Old Trafford, but that was 2 years ago and apart from that hes done precious little in tests since 2005. hes just not good enough.

  • Comment number 63.

    What strange people some of you are.

    Trescothick has retired from all international cricket; it was his idea.

    The talk of replacing Sidearse is because he's clearly carrying an injury and not bowling with anything like his normal threat.

    The hoped-for return of Flintoff isn't because we're still living off his Ashes success, it's because he's a genuine fast (90mph+) bowler with huge international experience and useful lower order batting when he's in form (form is temporary - class is permanent etc). He's also a talented slip fielder, a role which Collingwood - for all his acrobatics at point - has shown us he's not able to fill.

  • Comment number 64.

    Dress it up how you like, to take only 1 wicket in a days play means one thing, the bowling was not up to test match standard. Don't blame the pitch, it was the same yesterday as it was in SA's first innings. The only difference being SA took risks in the 1st but shut up shop in the 2nd and took no risks, which showed how limited England are.

    Yesterday the captain showed little understanding of how to take SA apart, he had no ideas apart from making changes for the sake of making changes Coupled with his poor batting record, one good score in twenty is not good enough, its time for him to go, untill he does we will always start a test match one man short.

    "Bring back Flintoff" what a joke, its years since he had a good performance against a class test country, its just cluching at straws.

  • Comment number 65.

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

  • Comment number 66.

    Vaughan and Colly should be dropped - batting deadweights. Sidey is injured and should not play until he's recovered. Good reason for Flintoff and S Jones and Shah to come in. Make either Strauss, Pietersen or Flintoff captain.

  • Comment number 67.

    I have listened to and enjoyed TMS as long as I can remember - although I'm pretty sure it wasn't called TMS in the old days. I have generally found something to enjoy about most of the commentators and some have been sheer delight. On Friday I was stuck in the car for much of the day and had to listen however I found Boycott's boastful, brash, arrogant and I'd say, after lunch, drunken comments were a disgrace and I don't think I'll be listening all the time he is part of the team. Very sad.

  • Comment number 68.

    In all the TMS and satelite comentary over the past few days I've only heard one person mention a bowler who undoubtly provides a cutting edge who's been missing for a while and that isn't Flintoff, but Simon Jones. We miss him more than Flintoff, he was as valuable a bowler during the Ashes as Freddie. Yes his batting is nowhere near as good, but as this test proved we have a strong batting line up. Simon Jones is genuinely fast, is one of the best in the world at reverse swing (watch the way he destroyed some of the Aussies in 2005) and provides the accuracy that Anderson and at times Flintoff doesn't. Can we please get past the bring back Freddie argument and realise that we need Simon Jones back in the team PDQ

  • Comment number 69.

    68: everyone's talking about S Jones. Both he and Flintoff can come back for the next test.

  • Comment number 70.

    I met Johnathon Agnew and Geoff Boycott briefly after the Brisbane Test last year when we discussed a lack of technique in the English game. I believe this extends to captaincy. In a four match series England should bat the opposition out of the series by not declaring and exposing SA bowlers to day after day in the field and then win the last game on the last day !! Please ask Aggers and Boycs to discuss live on air.


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