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Frail batting costs England again

Jonathan Agnew | 18:32 UK time, Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The most frustrating aspect of England's chastening opening day was that, as feared, it was their well-publicised batting problems that cost them. Anyone can get out first ball, but it was the last thing Michael Vaughan needed today.

With questions now seriously being raised about the value of his place in the side as a batsman, he desperately wanted a score here, but was undone by the faintest of edges to the wicketkeeper, and the pressure on him will be ratcheted up another notch.

A team can just about accommodate one batsman struggling for form, but not two, and it was no surprise to see Paul Collingwood struggling so painfully. He has been in dreadful form all summer and this laboured innings of 45 minutes for his four betrayed his lack of confidence.

Paul Collingwood walks off as the South African fielders celebrateWhile we have not seen enough of Vaughan today truly to gauge either his form or state of mind, Collingwood's torment was on show for all to see. He faced 22 balls, and made one scoring stroke - he will have to produce something really special in the second innings to avoid being dropped for the final Test.

Andrew Strauss will feel some responsibility for starting the collapse having needlessly trodden on his wicket after 23 relatively calm overs. Andre Nel was the bowler, lumbering in with his usual enthusiasm and energy, but the ball was innocuously aimed at the leg stump. Strauss clipped it away for a run, only for his left boot to knock his bails off.

Vaughan followed next ball, and Kevin Pietersen's dismissal was also unusual. Apparently trapped lbw by Kallis, Pietersen was actually given out caught at point by Steve Davis after the ball had bounced off his pad. Pietersen had turned his back on the umpire, and it took an age for him finally to leave the crease. The outcome was the correct, albeit the decision itself was wrong.

Tim Ambrose has not done enough to give the selectors the confidence to play five bowlers at The Oval - or anywhere else for that matter - and the farcical run-outs of James Anderson and Monty Panesar at the end merely summed it all up.

The demeanour of the England team as it took the field would not have filled even its most loyal and optimistic supporter with confidence. Why? After one defeat, how have things unravelled so spectacularly? The answer to that can only come from within the dressing room.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Vaughan and Collingwood must both go before the next test. Their ability has been lost they look tired forlorn and dismal. If either had ny pide they would fall on their sword. I would add Strauss.
    Bring in Bopara Key and bring back Broad.
    I feel this must know happen. Time over for Vaughan and collingwood for certain.
    Why did Vaughan not give Flinoff the new ball. Because Vaughan is just going through the motions with regard a job he has lost all passion for

  • Comment number 2.

    Even my cat knows Collingwood shouldn't have been selected for this test match.

    We were never going to compete with the saffers with TWO hopelessly out of form batsmen in the top 6.

    And dropping Broad, for whatever reason, simply makes the batting more brittle.

    What were the selectors hoping for - divine intervention?

    Drop Vaughan and Collingwood and bring in Bopara + Key or Shah.

  • Comment number 3.

    Well, apart from Flintoff's boundaries and dismissal of Smith at the death, that was truly pathetic. Another 50-plus opening stand between Cook and Strauss leads to yet another 'Calypso Collapso' as Blowers wonderfully puts it! And what is wrong with KP? does he not realise that his first task, surely, was to see us to lunch at just 2 wickets down? Obviously not!

    Colly should neevr have played. I know it's crazy but Broad should have played as much as a batsman as a bowler - he is in better form than Colly OBVIOUSLY, and even if he was tired, he will bowl better than Colly - surely we all agree on that. He could have batted at 6 instead - even though that sounds a bit premature, he would not have done any worse than Colly.

    The only hope we have now is Freddie magic tomorrow, plus Monty as it possibly starts to turn. Otherwise England = screwed. And we deserve to be quite frankly!

  • Comment number 4.

    I thought it was the greatest performance the cricketing world had ever seen. And 'Anyone can get out first ball'... James Anderson can't.

  • Comment number 5.

    Of course, the question must now be if Vaughan is now fired, or falls on his sword, will Trescothick want to play for England again?

  • Comment number 6.

    There's always the second innings, but - failing two good scores - Vaughan can enjoy Collingwood's camaraderie and positive attitude on their mutual way back to county cricket.

  • Comment number 7.

    Trescothick can't play for England again - his condition flares up whenever he goes on tour.

    Terrible shame, he's what we need right now.

  • Comment number 8.

    politeBoobie - maybe I need to play catch-up, but is it supposed that Vaughan is at the root of Tresco's problems?

  • Comment number 9.

    We need a total overhaul of this team once and for all

    Collingwood is useless, as is Bell - a couple of good innings seemingly keep a place for life.
    Vaughan must go soon - a good captain but awful with the bat
    The bowlers Anderson and Sidebottom just aren't threatening enough at all.

    The team should become:
    Bopara(can bowl as well to make a six man attack)
    Broad (even though not fantastic with the ball, he's topping the batting averages so justifies his place in the team as he can bat a lot better than vaughan and Collingwood whilst can be used as a useful bowler as well)

  • Comment number 10.

    I have been at work all day, watching the score on line. So so so disappointed. Is there any chance for a team that hasn't got the talent and/or form and can't graft either? Liked RyanPettman's idea of playing Broad as a batter, but there must be better options out in the county. As a Middx fan - Shah springs to mind.

  • Comment number 11.

    neoBee-bop: Yes indeed, that was what I was alluding too.

  • Comment number 12.

    I am swaying towards the band on here that demands change.

    Collingwood should have been nowhere near the test side.

    The skipper got an unlucky one again but I think his time may well be up. Everyman has a breaking point and this England team added to his own form must be driving him mad.

    Robert Key, Bopara and Shah must all be wondering what they have to do to be selected.

    Personally Speaking I believe England have a ready made skipper in waiting with Rob Key.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm not really sure where England go from here.

    It is hard to see South Africa not taking a substantial lead into the next set of innings, given that their batting line up is not nearly as likely to collapse at short notice.

    Come Sunday, but probably before then, the series will be gone and England will have to pick up the pieces.

    Collingwood is the obvious man to lose out. And it is a real shame, as he is no doubt a nice lad and now faces the prospect of not playing international cricket until his ban expires in the ODIs. In that time, unless he makes some good knocks for Durham, if KP produces the goods then there could be the argument to let him keep the armband, should Colly not be able to force his way back into the team. That, however, is very unlikely.

    Shah is the man to come in. He's never really done anything wrong at international level, as much as anything, he just hasn't been able to force his way into what used to be a very congested England upper middle order. Now it's bottlenecked on who can get out of the team first.

    Vaughan is a class player. How he has found himself in such a muddle is beyond me. England can't lose him. First problem: a complete lack of continuity in taking your captains in both forms of the game out of the side. Secondly, who captains?

    The Sky boys touched on it. There are no obvious candidates. Strauss is just about back in the fold, Flintoff too injury prone, Collingwood dropped and I wouldn't want to weigh down KP it just yet.

    Cook is the only man I'd trust with the job, but just not yet. And that, if nothing else, is why Vaughan must stay.


  • Comment number 14.

    mark LCFC

    Stick to football mate.

    Bell and Sidebottom are doing a good job for England.

  • Comment number 15.

    I realise that Rob Key is talented, and doing a good job as captain of Kent, however, he previously averaged 31 in test cricket after 15 tests, thanks largely to a score of 221 against a poor west indies team. His average against aus/sa is below 20! There are better performing batsmen in the county game at the minute, so once again are people saying that he should be included as captain, despite not being best batsman, or in as a batsman with another candidate for captain?

  • Comment number 16.

    Will people please get off Michael Vaughan's back?

    He is without doubt the only man who can lead England. Anyone with any cricketing knowledge can see he's got either unplayable balls or, like today, a dodgy decision. There is so much doubt even after looking at technology whether he hit the ball. Nothing on hot spot, a thicker sound on snicko that isn't the same as an edge, so what did Aleem Dar hear I ask. Just another excuse to get on his back.

    Has it escaped attention that ALL England's batsmen are struggling for runs. Even KP has done his usual trick of getting his one century a series and nothing else besides. Vaughan is just the name in frame for all the "new toy" mentality people who are just springing names up from the county game. Get off the media bandwagon guys and get behind the captain of your country.

  • Comment number 17.

    This was a truly spineless and turgid performance from England. We've now been bowled out twice in a row on the opening day of a test. Last time there were excuses about Englands team balance and personal. Now we have a team with six batsmen, get a solid start and still underperform. I've read people praising Collingwoods character, prescence in the dressing room and other attributes. Yet the man is in awful form, his innings today was painful to watch. He needs to go before he damages his reputation permenantly.

    The selectors , playersand coaches need to have a look at themselves after todays performance. On this form the Australians will destroy us in 2009.

  • Comment number 18.

    England have not unravelled after one defat. The rot was already apparent against a weak New Zealand side, however they weren`t in a position to maintain their advantage. The Springboks are stronger and after they´d acclimatised after the third day of the first test they took over. It reminds me of the indian tour last summer.

  • Comment number 19.

    Oh and politeboobie, privvy to what is going on in the England dressing room are we? Stop talking rot!

  • Comment number 20.

    Vaughan is beginning to look pitiful. Send him back to Yorkshire and if he starts putting together a run of successful innings, bring him back into the side. His constant failure with the bat undermines the confidence of the batsmen who follow.

    Replace Ambrose with the Sussex keeper and bring in Bopara to replace Collingwood.

    I think we should persevere with Strauss and make him the skipper. The added responsibility will pay dividends. Pieterson sadly does not have the correct temperament and nouse. Definitely have Broad in the side. We need a number 3 who will make his wicket a real prize like a Kallis or a Chaunderpaul. They have to be limpet like. That spot will be tough to fill.

  • Comment number 21.

    I mentioned Key because from what I have seen he is vastly improved as a batsman from the last time we saw him in England colours. his captaincy impresses me more and more as well.

  • Comment number 22.

    Michael Vaughan averages 43 in test cricket, has scored over 5000 test runs, 17 tons, and 15 50s. He is not a bad player, he has in his time been one of Englands most stylish and exciting batsmen. Remember Australia? His only achilles heel was getting out in the 190s!!! However, his recent run of poor form requires him to either go back to the drawing board or take time out to get back in proper form. He is a good captain, but again seems to have lost the sparkle that he showed 2-3 years ago! I would like to see him bat at 4, without the burden of captaincy.

  • Comment number 23.

    What an absolute diabolical and pathetic display by England today. The wicket was a good batting one, and one that should have produced runs aplenty. We have lacked the chemistry. and the passion, for longer than just the last 2 tests.

    We need changes and fast.

    Vaughan and Colly have got to go, for starters.

    We need to revisit the keeping situation, as Ambrose simply does not cut the mustard.

    My XI for the final test.....

    Key (Capt)

    My 2nd XI would be...


    Either would be better than what we have now....

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    I would go for:

    Key (cap)
    Reid (Wk)

    Batting sound to 9, 5 batters, 5 bowlers, a spinner every bit as skillful as Monty and a keeper who can keep. Who can better that? They wouldn't do worse. Siders has played his part, but he lacks penetration, and Jones needs to come back urgently.

  • Comment number 26.

    19: Vaughan needs to be flushed down a 'privie'! He's been rubbish for years.

  • Comment number 27.

    We keep looking for signs that England are making progress under Moores / Vaughan.

    The sad fact is that there isn't any progress. A fact which now seems to have been realised by the team, which will be in the middle of an Ashes series this time next year.

    The batting is now looking like a load of cobblers. The bowling lacks bite and consistency and the side as a whole is just not right.

    I didn't believe England would dump Vaughan, but there is now a chance, if England lose the series here, that the selectors might just do the deed.

    The deciding factor, as always seems to be the case with England's hierarchy, is pride. Vaughan criticised the selectors policy and probably used up his get-out-of-jail-free card in the process.

    The possibility looms of a radically different side for the winter, especially in batting, probably led by Pieterson, with no place for Vaughan, Collingwood or Strauss.

  • Comment number 28.

    I watched the South African innings whilst sweating on an elliptical in the gym. Watching Anderson bowl was disheartening. Trying to dismiss a left-hander by bowling away swingers from wide on the crease... sheesh. Ball after ball absolutely nowhere close to Graeme Smith's bat.

    Then up pops Freddie. First ball bang on line. Second ball gets the edge and a good catch. That's the difference between being a decent county bowler and someone who can perform at the highest level. Vaughan may give Anderosn the new ball because he gets it to swing but it's worthless when over half the deliveries are nowhere near the batsman.

    I criticised Peter Moores last year for not having a real plan formulated over the composition of his sides for both Test and one-day cricket. Nothing's changed really. We don't have a core bowling line-up who regularly take wickets. We have a misfiring middle-order. We are no further to establishing a first choice wicketkeeper than we were at the start of last summer's internationals. Now we have a captain who looks under severe pressure. I wouldn't drop Vaughan as yet. Most captains go through this. Nasser did, Mark Taylor certainly did. I've felt for a long time that Vaughan wanted to go out after the Ashes next summer. Despite his poor form with the bat, I'd retain him.

    So what do we have? We have an opening pair who I think can work well together. Despite his mistake today, Strauss does look pretty solid and Cook is getting back into some form and hopefully will break through to the next level over the winter. Vaughan at 3, KP at 4, Bell wherever... so let's please give Owais Shah a chance. As much as I'm a fan of Paul Collingwood, he looks as happy with a bat in his hand right now as Douglas Bader would on a unicycle.

    Ambrose as keeper... nope. England have to go two ways: either go with Prior for his superior run-scoring ability and hope he improves or to throw a youger keeper in and hope he makes it. Tough call. Right now I'd go for Prior simply because of our poor middle-order.

    Bowling: Sorry Jimmy, I wish you could bring it all together at international level but you haven't. That spell this evening was dire and Freddie showed you up within two balls. I'd like to see Freddie opening with Sidebottom, Jones and Panesar first change and have Stuart Broad in there too.

    All this talk of Freddie being a number 7: piffle. Can you imagine any Aussie saying that he's not good enough to bat at a position where he has scored centuries in previous Tests? Where's the self-confidence Fred?


  • Comment number 29.

    It just seems to me that people are looking in every nook and cranny for scapegoats and people to blame for the demise of this England team. I think this is unfair on the England players and does not give the respect that is due to a South African side who have won every series they have played in the last two years with the exception of India away, which would also have been won apart from a batting collapse in the 3rd Test.

    Before the series began I had a chat with a mate about the relative strength of the two teams. He argued England could bat as well as South Africa in the top six. I disagreed simply because we are now in the position where all our top 6 consistently get runs. England's top 6 in contrast have averages that have been massaged by Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and West Indies - and thus the players have been put on a pedestal that is higher than their relative ability. As a South African fan, I fear Pietersen and Bell. All the others I figure it is only a matter of time and good planning before we get them out.

    In the bowling department, we have excellent strength in depth. This has been seen today with the inclusion of Nel instead of Steyn. It really does not make any difference to the team. Again in our chat, I pointed out that we had 4 frontline bowlers that could all take wickets and a spinner who would pick up the odd one and keep things tidy. Their quality is the primary reason why England are failing. Vaughan equated them with the West Indies attack of the 80s. This way a ridiculous comparison but in fairness our bowlers are currently doing a similar demolition job - although I would have to accept that England do get themselves out most times.
    In contrast, England do not have the same firepower. Flintoff is dangerous but Anderson and Sidebottom are only dangerous on occasion. When it swings, we are in trouble but apart from that, our batsmen can fill their boots.

  • Comment number 30.

    The only plus I would take from today - which is a big one - is that Flintoff looks to be firing on all cylinders again with bat and ball, though opportunities with both were only short today. For England to get back into this game Flintoff might have to go on and deliver the type of virtuoso performance we saw at Edgbaston 2005, which is probably asking a bit much in only his second test back.

    So long as there are apparently no consequences of failure for the upper order then complacent batting performances like today's will continue. Yes, Collingwood and Strauss were dropped, but apparently with a guarantee they would return before long. Meanwhile Broad - whose test batting average is actually higher than Collingwood's now - is 'rested' to play county cricket, Hoggard's career is apparently over and Harmison is deemed worthy only of carrying the drinks. Oh and let's not forget poor Darren Pattinson, an odd selection no doubt but more a victim of Michael Vaughan's closed shop than any particular failings with the ball.

    There needs to be a change in culture at the top, and if that means a change in personnel so be it.

  • Comment number 31.

    Overhyped, over rated and over paid. That's the England team. Why should they care ?. Most of them are millionaires already on central contracts despite their lack of ability. Pity the poor fans who pay hard earned money to watch them.

  • Comment number 32.

    Are there no Strip joints in Birmingham that someone can take Collingwood to, so that he can relax? Poor guy seems to be in dire need of some cheering up!

    Hollywood should be Vaughn's next port of call, as and when he is put out to the pasture. What acting, what bemusement!!! "...How can the umpire give me out!!!"...

  • Comment number 33.

    "The demeanour of the England team as it took the field would not have filled even its most loyal and optimistic supporter with confidence. Why? After one defeat, how have things unravelled so spectacularly? The answer to that can only come from within the dressing room."

    My advice to you, if you are hoping for a constructive answer, is "Don't hold your breath".

    The England dressing room do not have the answer, because they live in a required mindset that acknowledges criticism only in an abstract way - as though it doesn't really apply to them, personally, or as a group. It's a pretty good example of system justification in operation, and I'd suggest that unless it can be seen in these terms then nothing ground-breaking can be done to improve their performance.

    If I thought that the team outlook was one that had finally realised that there were no more excuses then I'd be mildly optimistic. But it seemed to me more that they were embarrassed, maybe annoyed, by the lack of excuses available, but knew they wouldn't have to wait too long before the PR guys shipped in the next batch.

  • Comment number 34.

    im a sussex fan and i reckon rob key desrves the chance to start a new era as captain, he could be captain in both forms test one day and 20 20. great choice i reckon

  • Comment number 35.

    Looking at the England side when they started bowling, it looked like they've already given up! What is SiBO snarling at Monty for? If he bowls on the pads, he will be taken for boundaries and there's nothing poor Monty can do.

    No one has answers for this simple question: This is the identical batting which got whitewashed by the Aussies. And yet every batsman has been retained... and Vaughan's inclusion hasn't helped any. How is it the selectors are able to fool everyone all the time?

    The only reason I can think of is that the worst batsmen have been made captains, so they can't be dropped... and by extension other batsmen who are slightly better but still not good enough to win Tests cannot be dropped. So the first thing to be done is to sack the skippers and find a single captain again for both forms. Enough of Vaughan and Colly in both forms of hte game.

  • Comment number 36.

    the total rubbish that is in this team at the mo has to be rid now including the joke selectors who just have not the faintest clue

  • Comment number 37.

    Just a thought on the South African team for the Oval. As Nel outbowled Ntini today who would Steyn replace or would the quota thing come into play?
    On performance Harris should drop out, but I expect they would want a spinner at the Oval.

  • Comment number 38.

    Drop Vaughan and Collingwood. Vaughan needs to learn that even as Captain he is not untouchable. Owais Shah in for Vaughan is simple. As for Collingwood? Even simpler, bring in Stuart Broad. Should never have been dropped in the first place. Then Ravi Bopara and Simon Jones are on stand by.

  • Comment number 39.


    We will not drop Ntini, it just will not happen. He is not bowling well but though there may be a case for his exclusion, he does add variety and is taking wickets again now. He is no longer our strike bowler, so if he is taking a couple an innings on average he is doing his job.

    As for Harris, he has been ridiculed by some over in England but, despite this, he is doing the job he was picked for. He bowled a few overs with the old ball and, though he didn't get wickets, he kept it tight and gave the strike bowlers a breather. He then has an added threat if the pitch wears on days 4 and 5.

    The reality may be therefore, that Nel drops out again for Steyn. Whatever - the nice thing is we are in the position where we are having to debate dropping a bowler playing a significant role. This is very different to England, who cannot seem to buy a wicket.

  • Comment number 40.

    'Tired' Broad dropped. Oh, great!

  • Comment number 41.

    A lot to think about, particularly Collingwood.

    He was brought in at Broad's expense, to try and improve the batting, was he?

    Collingwood's last six innings, in reverse chronological order: 4, 7, 0, 24, 2, 6. Total 43, average 7.

    Broad's last six innings, in reverse chronological order: 67, 17, 76, 64, 30, 25. Total 279, average 47.

    So Broad averages 40 runs more per innings. Hmm...

    Maybe it was just that Broad's bowling wasn't good enough?

    In his last six innings, Broad has taken seven wickets for 375 runs. That's 54 runs per wicket. Not great, but...

    In his last six innings, Collingwood has taken no wickets for 62 runs. That's infinite runs per wicket.

    If Broad's bowling really wasn't good enough, then the answer would have been to bring in another bowler.

    Collingwood hasn't even played any "proper" county cricket for Durham since he was dropped; only 20 and 40 over games.

    Where's the logic?

    And why is it that talented players are underperforming on an alarmingly regular basis? The only answer I've got is that they're complacent. Reputation seems to be more important than form to the current selection panel.

  • Comment number 42.

    Vaughan won't be dropped before the end of the series, that would be a big change. Remembering SA are probably the strongest side in the world at the moment. but if England aren't winning, then he needs runs to keep his place.

    But Colly is surely sunk if he doesn't fire in the second innings.

    Ambrose needs to hold all his catches and keep getting some half decent runs and maybe he'll get another series, we've chopped and changed so much since Stewart's retirement, we need to give someone a proper run, remembering Chris Read's treatment as a prime example. But Foster and Prior are ready and waiting for the call I'm sure, and clearly at least one will tour.

    Sidebottom is Hoggard's successor, a solid, hard-working seamer, Anderson's still has to get important wickets under his belt to convince me.

    Sidebtttom's role is not disimilar to one-Test wonder Mr Pattinson whose inclusion ahead of Tremlett in the selected squad (let alone anyone else) was illogical and very much a hunch-based gamble.

    Broad will be around for years to come, he's still young and needs to work on his bowling like anyone his age, his winter tour berth must be assured, as is Simon Jones's if he stays fit (fingers crossed), I think it's only right he proves himself for a full season.

    I like Bopara, in theory a like-for-like replacement for Colly, but is he really strong enough to bat at 5 at Test level? And isn't Rob Key just another good county-level bully?

    We have Cook, Strauss, KP and Bell all seemingly set, maybe it's time to find a younger proper batting prospect at 5 and let the keeper (?), Flintoff and Broad stiffen the early tail as part of a five-man attack?

  • Comment number 43.

    Right, a total change of subject here first!!

    In regards to the new umpire referral system in place (yes, I know its not being used in this series!), could Pietersen have successfully appealed against his dismissal today?
    He clearly was given out caught, though this has been proved this was incorrect, if he had appealed could he have been given out for lbw if he hadn't originally been given out for that?

    I know a 'double' dismissal is a rare occurance, but is there a loop hole in this new rule that could have been missed?

    Right back to todays miserable performance, the writing has been on the wall since the winter. On countless occasions New Zealand handed England victories, rather than England crushing New Zealand, though the England management claimed they were 'great' victories.

    Surely this highlights the ineptitude of the current leadership team, Vaughan included. I am for one a massive Vaughan fan and believe he has massively helped turn England into a force, though surely he has to pass the baton on and let a new wave of talent lead the England side. Currently there are no 'leaders' standing out in the current squad, but before Vaughan got the job very few saw him as captaincy material.

    Too many batsmen for too long have stayed in the side on reputation alone, surely the lack of a first innings total for way over a year (Lords aside) should have opened peoples eyes to this. Lets sort things out now before we ruin a potentially brillant team.

    Lets give players like Shah, Bopara, Denly, Foster a chance to show their talents on the international stage, in place of the floundering incumbants.

    I know i've ranted on but I care too much to see years of progress to be ruined, we DO have the players, lets use them!

  • Comment number 44.

    Vaughan got out once again by a good ball. This seems to happen a lot to him these days. One way to avoid being got out by really good balls - stop playing Test cricket.

  • Comment number 45.

    Another absolutely baffling piece of selection leads to another wholly inadequete first day.
    After the three innings in which england's bowlers find it almost impossible to take wickets the selectors almost incredibly drop a bowler. This terrifyingly bad logic is inpounded by the fact the bowler (Broad) who was dropped was the best batsman at Headingley and has been replaced by a batsman with the worst average of any of the top eight for the entire summer. So the selectors weaken the bowling AND the batting- stunning, stunning brainpower they have shown after the debacle of the Pattinson selection.
    Cleary if the selectors really felt that they should leave Broad out (obviously feeling that his scoring such a great number of runs was some sort of freak occurence not backed up by his GENUINE ability) then they surely would pick a batsman who is a sure fire bet to score runs on current form, like Bopara or Shah. However, Broad has clearly shown that the runs he scored were testiment to his quality and not some lucky smash and grab raid due to second rate bowling or whatever. I think that lad Boycott has some idea of what he is talking about when it comes to batting.
    The selectors have totally demolished the chances of the England team in this series; not to say that there are excuses for the batting display today, but just that when the difference in quality between two teams is so very close, as between these two, such decisions can be the difference between winning and losing.
    The most logical selection choice has been right in front of the selectors eyes since Flintoff came back in the team (with his shaky batting form, although he has been okay so far) and that is this:
    Two out and out quicks from Sidebottom, Anderson, Harmison, Hoggard, Jones and Tremlett. Supplemented by two bowling all-rounders in Broad and Flintoff.
    The strengthening of the batting comes from replacing the very average Ambrose with Prior, who is a proper batsman. The team now looks like this and is well balanced

    Anderson/Harmison/Hoggard etc

    The team has 5 proper bowlers and strength in batting up to and including 8 (Oh, apart from Vaughan)

  • Comment number 46.


    All of the top 3 I have named above are in much better batting form than the lower 3.

    Vaughan and Collingwood are in the team for their batting. If a batsmen isn't scoring runs, why are they in the team?

  • Comment number 47.

    Firstly, Simfas, Collingwood could go to the Rocket Club on Broad Street to relax in the manner you suggest.

    Secondly, I'm sorry to say it but Vaughany's days have to be numbered. A captain must be able to justify his position as a batsman or bowler and sadly Vaughan just hasn't done this for ages. And, if what I've been told is true, then Trescothick may well come back to the side if Vaughan goes. Excellent. So our batting has improved immeasurably already. Right. Strauss promoted to Captain, no question he has the cricket brain for it and his performance with the bat is already rocketing back to the top form he was enjoying in 2003/2004/2005. Cook, no worries there. As for Bell, stop lambasting him numties like Mark LCFC! He's a class act. Pietersen needs a good talking to from the new captain but of course has the talent. Someone just needs to point out to him that his place is not a foregone conclusion and to stop trying to hit the ball out of the ground when the team has its back to the wall. Shah should come in to the middle order. He too is class and has been unfairly treated by the selectors in my opinion.

    As for the keeper I do not claim to know what the solution is. With my suggested batting line up firing on all cylinders his keeping performance should be the important factor. We can't afford to miss catches behind and stumping opportunities at test level.

    Then bowl Flintoff, Sidebottom, Panesar and Simon Jones.

    What do you reckon?

  • Comment number 48.

    Simfas - I know a couple of places Collingwood might like to chill out at :) The guy's out of form, selecting him was a mistake. Simple enough.

    The rest? Village.

    I get fined and mercilessly mocked if I do something deemed as "village". The fines book would have come out today for the England team.

    V For Victory was a slogan during World War 2. Let's bring it up to date with V For Village.

    Foster in as wicketkeeper. There's a list on another well known cricket website comparing recent England keepers' performances and what their errors cost against their batting. IIRC Prior comes bottom of that list.

    Vaughan the Prawn (that's going to stick now, watch for the seafood jokes) is paying for his poor form and shellfish approach (sorry, couldn't resist it) to team selection. Closed shops don't work. Strauss should get the job.

    Much as I don't rate Owais Shah that highly, the guy deserves a chance. He can't do much worse. Same for Bopara to replace Collingwood.

    Until we get some hard work in our batting whoever we pick as bowlers won't stand much of a chance.

  • Comment number 49.

    In Colly's defence - look at that picture and tell me you wouldn't have got out cheaply too to a team of giant Saffers.

  • Comment number 50.

    Can anyone explain to me the point of Monty Panasar?

    The guy cant catch, cant field, cant run and is not exactly consistent when it comes to taking wickets. we may as well play ten men.

    The Eddie the Eagle culture he creates is embarrassing, the Australians, Sri Lankans and Indians all have spin bowlers who can at least bat and certainly take wickets on a consistent basis.

    The problem of not playing the right amount of batsman and bowlers is that we have to carry him every game.

    I would much rather have seen Simon Jones recalled.

    It was clear at the end of the game tonite that even Ryan Sidebottom had had enough of Panasars amateurish performances.

    Please find us a spinner who can actually spin and make a reasonable fist at batting.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hussain resigned halfway against the Saffers.
    Vaughan should do the shame.
    Next FEC? Cook....simple!
    (And no, not Pieterson. This is Test cricket not the muppet show...he´s a 2020 captain.)

  • Comment number 52.

    Pack it in Vaughan, you are no longer good enough at this level of cricket. I really did not like his comments either when Jonathan Agnew interviewed him (listen to it on the main cricket site). That clearly shows a man not right with himself and he should go at once. Agnew is only doing his job, which is to ask questions and did not need to be spoken to like that.

    Fundamentally Peter Moores needs to go at once. I have been calling for this for a while now however the wins against a very average New Zealand side have clouded some people's judgments.

    Ambrose and Collingwood are not good enough and must not be picked.
    Owais Shah needs to be given a fair run in the team and Cook needs to be made captain now!

  • Comment number 53.

    I think Vaughan, Colly and Ambrose are in the last chance saloon.

    When we finally bowl SA out, by which time we could be looking down both barrells, these three need to score big second time around, to save their spots in the team and ultimately their test careers.

    If we lose this test, which looks likely, and those three fail to deliver in the second innings, the series will have gone and the time for rebuilding towards the Ashes must start. That means for the Oval Test, Shah in for Vaughan, Bopara in for Colly (should be playing in this test anyway for the Durham flop) and Foster in for Ambrose. Strauss as captain.

    As for the bowlers, drop Anderson (he's no opening bowler), bring in Jones and then it's between Sidebottom, Hoggard or Harmy. Panesar to stay, he can't run, field or bat, but he's the only decent spinner we've got.

    Broad is one for the future and may well usurp Flintoff for the all rounder spot, during the winter tours.

  • Comment number 54.

    I love Badabingat's posting above as it's the best definition of "tripe" I've seen.

    Quote" Flintoff's ..with his shaky batting " as opposed to Vaughan with his non-existent batting, non existing captaincy, non existent PR skills (blame evrybody else but yourself), complete lack of responsibility and a continuing succession of ducks.

    No wonder they call him the Egg takes him three minutes exactly to come to the wicket face a ball and retire to the pavillion.

    Time to put this joke of a captain who wouldn't get into Derbyshire's 2nd X1 out to grass although the Yorkshire players will tell you they don't want him in their side.

    Flintoff 36 not out and the only wicket.

    Vaughan 0 and out and frankly he didn't deserve 0.


  • Comment number 55.

    If Vaughan gets the boot as he should, I think the selectors should take a big risk and make Cook captain. He's young, driven and level-headed. He's also the only viable candidate in my opinion.

    I think what will work for Vaughan is that the selectors won't want to blood two new batsmen in the next test and Colly's a gonner barring a ton next up. I think the selectors will go with Bopara but I really think Owais Shah deserves a proper go.

  • Comment number 56.

    backofdanet; At last someone agrees with me in relation to Cook being made captain!

    People should realize that to be a captain you don't have to be loud and brash which Cook is not. Smith has these traits but did Steve Waugh, Mike Brearley or Michael Atherton?

    Cook reminds me so much of Stephen Fleming and we need to give him a chance and build the team around him, Bell, Broad, Pietersen and Flintoff.

  • Comment number 57.

    To my mind the selection of Collingwood this match was a far worse crime than Pattinson last test. Whatever you say about Pattinson, at least he'd been in decent form for his county and played well - if not spectacularly - in the test match.

    But what on earth were the selectors thinking with Colly? "Let's see, we urgently need to strengthen our batting... Hmm, tell you what, let's call back that guy who's the most dismal form of his career, who can't get a run for love or money, and who we only just dropped. What's that? He got no runs again? Astonishing!"

  • Comment number 58.

    Another shambolic batting performance from England, but to be honest, we all half expected it (except for 'Bumble', who for some reason always has a feeling England might win before evry game, bless!!). I'm not going to Harp on again about the selectors who should all be put out to pasture and maybe shot by the farmers son for practice, just a couple of points that have riled me today:

    1) I understand the need to criticise Vaughan as the captain must take the most of the blame when a team fails, but people calling for ROB KEY to take his place as captain are ridiculous at best. He hasn't played test cricket for years, lets not be silly here. He's also extremely overweight for a professional sportsman and his fielding is below par at best. I know we don't have any immediate replacements in the team, barring a nowadays slightly timid Strauss, but lets not drop that far yet!!

    2) If anyone else suggests we play STUART BROAD as a number six batsman, you should stop writing on any blogs in future and probably stop watching cricket altogether!! The reason he bats so well is because he's comfortable at 8, it suits his style of play and he is a BOWLER who can bat. Like Freddie, but again that is a different point, he should not be forced into a position above his status where he will only under-perform and come in for more criticism. Not to mention the likes of Shah and Bopara who would probably become Zimbabwean if Broad was picked at number 6 of them. Please, i hate reading the same drivel over and over again.

    Thanks, rant over....

    Lets hope someone can step up tomorrow from the mire and whittle SA out and we can rejoice in something good again

    Come on England!!

  • Comment number 59.

    England have clearly had a bad day, but there needs to be some grit shown tomorrow. The first thing to do is stop giving what is frankly at best a mediocre South African side so much respect. Then Flintoff and Monty need to lead the attack tommorrow. Sidebottam is clearly not fit and Anderson has spent his entire career flattering to deceive. At the end of this Match room needs to be made for Simon Jones, Broad and Harmison. We won the Ashes in 2005 due to our formidable bowling attack we need to start rebuilding that attack.

    As for our batsmen the time has come for Vaughan to make a century or else his place I feel is under pressure. Equally Collingwood century or gone and the same with Ambrose. Strauss and cook need to start building 100 partnerships like trescothick and Strauss used to. Time to bring back Prior as Ambrose has completely failed but most of all time to increase the scoring rate and build partnerships.

  • Comment number 60.

    Another abysmal batting performance from England. 400 should have been a minimum score on that pitch. SA have only to bat sensibly in their first innings and the series will be gone.

    The recall of Collingwood was illogical and his failure today was all too predictable. Indeed, as some have suggested, if the selectors wanted to pick a batsman that can chip in with a few overs they would be better off choosing Broad, given his recent form. Collingwood's form is terrible and has been for some while - his last test century was last summer against the Windies. He was correctly dropped for the Headingley test IMO but the spin in the papers from the England camp since then made it clear that he would play this test. Batsmen are often told to play the ball and not the bowler and it would seem to me that in this case the selectors are picking the man and not the batsman, and are shoehorning Collingwood into the team because of his character and familiarity with the squad. Collingwood's fighting qualities are well known but unfortunately his limited technique has been shown up and I believe he should only play in the ODI side and he is still a fine batsman, bowler and fielder in the shorter form of the game.

    Vaughan is also under pressure. I have noticed that when his position as captain is being questioned he appears to deliberately create other issues to deflect the attention from him. When his position as ODI captain was question following the 2007 CWC he made the 'Fredalo' comments. After the Headingley test he openly criticised the selection of Pattinson.

    I would also like to question Peter Moores' position as coach. If this series is lost, as it looks very likely to be, then I believe that we may need a change at the top. The performance of the test side since his appointment has been poor compared to the standards of Fletcher's reign. The test team seems to suffer from a general ill discipline, particularly on the batting front, and have only beaten a NZ side stripped of its star players and a typically ill disciplined Windies side. Indeed, given their improved showing against Australia in the recent test series the Windies would probably fancy their chances against England at the moment. In Moores' favour there has been a slight improvement in the ODI teams' fortunes but the recent defeats against NZ show how far England still have to come. The performance in the World Twenty20 last year was also disappointing.

  • Comment number 61.

    I must admit that I find Vaughan's comments towards Agnew very offensive indeed.

    Please listen to it on the main site evryone.

    Mr Agnew we are all supporting you on this one as you were rightly going about your job in a professional manner (like you always do) and to be spoken to like that is disgusting.

    People will say he is only joking but listen to him carefully and you will see.

    He should be removed as captain as once.

  • Comment number 62.

    England need Tresco, and badly, since his well know issues about traveling started England have been on a downward spiral (although I don't remember many commentators at the time being as kind as they now are!) We should simply have him play the home series, at least we'd only loose for 6 months of the year! Seriously, who cares if he can't play in the winter tour? Play him at home until someone in the winter tour comes along who is obviously better. Currenty I would happily drop ANY of the England players to have Tresco back in the squad!

  • Comment number 63.

    How can the captain be a selector and the new policy to select on form and not history does not quite stand up with Vaughan apart from his knock against N.Z. he has been pretty useless for sometime. Such is his determination he looks completely stressed out and why on earth would you select Colly?. His entire demanour is that of a rabbit in headlights.

    I think the selectors have to be much more adventurous and merciless, we are trying to win after all!. Further to this the amount of mistakes they seem to make is unbelievable, what on earth was Strauss doing?, why does somebody not have a serious word with Pieterson, on his day a fantastic player, but one trick pony and certainly does appear to possess any brains in fact that could apply to many of them. They appear to be going backwards especially with loyalty handicap the selectors seem to possess.

  • Comment number 64.

    i am not an expert on england cricket, but I feel KP should bat at no.3, ofcourse provided he is willing to. Especially since Vaughan is woefully out of form. The openers are putting in a good partnership but the pressure comes straight back on when one of them gets out and Vaughan gets out quickly too. On the other hand KP can drive home the advantage provided by the openers.

  • Comment number 65.

    Rob Key or Cook will be twice the captain Vaughan is now. There is no defence whatsoever as to leaving Collinwood and Vaughan in the side.
    I like the Idea of tres back. Cook with some real support in the to 4 great.
    Pieterson needs a long holiday or somthing what is he doing. Oh I know thats the way he plays. Team member I think not. Looking to go back to SA is he.

  • Comment number 66.


    A mediocre South African side? What evidence do you have for stating this? If you have a look back over our track record for the last 2 years, I think you will find that we are deservedly number 2 and considerably ahead of England.

    Who knows? Maybe our mediocre side will even give the Aussies some serious problems this summer (that is winter to you)!

    Also, if this South African side is as mediocre as you make out, it is only a matter of time before England drop to the level of the West Indies. Personally I think both sides are better than you are giving credit for.

  • Comment number 67.

    Things have come to a sorry state when blog-respondents start having a go at each other!

    As the England innings wended on its weary and depressing way, I started to try and think of a new strategy which might, at least, avoid humiliating defeat in future. I called it the "eleven batsmen" strategy. One of its beauties is that it doesn't need a batsman/wicketkeeper, or vice versa, in fact it doesn't need a wicketkeeper at all, since there is no intention of taking to the field, except to bat.

    The England innings came to an end sooner than even I had expected, so I didn't have time to think through the finer points, such as how to ensure we always won the toss, without resorting to cheating or bribery. I'll have to sleep on that.

    The biggest advantage of the eleven batsmen theory is that it will give new opportunities at Test level to batsmen who have either not had them or were discarded too soon. Thus, people like Key, Shah, Bopara and a few others will be able to be compared directly with the current incumbents, on the same pitch, against the same bowlers, in the same match.

    On a more serious note, I think that everyone finally accepts that the problem is the batsmen. They are failing us time and time again. Yet they continue to be given new opportunities -- Collingwood and Vaughan are the latest and most blatant cases -- even when they are not performing. This has not happened to the bowlers. There has been much more rotation among the bowlers over the last few years and many more bowlers than batsmen have had the opportunity to show what they can do. That may be why, on the whole, most people are happy with the bowling line-up, satisfied that it is probably, give or take, the best available.

    Noone thinks that about the batsmen, however many of them there are.

  • Comment number 68.

    Ashes chat:
    How can the Aussies lose three legends to retirement and we still can't seize the moment?
    Unfortunately we're rubbish.

  • Comment number 69.

    Is anybody surprised? Truly? As some have already noted, the writing was on the wall when England toured NZ earlier in the year.

    I wait in eager anticipation to see what Mystic Meg Inc dream up for England's next match, after peering into their teacups or gathering around the ouija board. In all honesty, I fully expect to see Eddie the Eagle opening sometime this season.

  • Comment number 70.

    On the bowling front I think Monty should bowl in tandem with an aggressive bowler at the other end (right now Flintoff). Thats when he is most effective.

    In fact I think it applies to most spinners unless he is a Warne or Murali.

    It doesn't help when Anderson or Broad is bowling at the other end, giving away cheap runs. No pressure on batsmen.

    I remember Monty destroying Pak/Windies in partnership with Harmison some time ago.

  • Comment number 71.

    lowqualitybatsman - I don't follow the Vaughan/Tresco thing. Tresco also dropped out of the Somerset tour; it's not just England, the guy's just ill.

  • Comment number 72.

    England have been mediocre for a long time and even the good period around the time of the Ashes 05 shouldn't disguise the fact that few of players are world class - for a start, just take a look at how our batters dont average in the high 40s and 50s like those from most other test playing nations including Sri Lanka. Selections are poor.
    Here is the way forward:

    Cook (good enough to keep his place just)
    Strauss (worth perservering with too in spite of his patchy return to the side)
    KP (true class but may always have a temperament that prevents him from the being even better)
    Bell (keep him in)
    Shah (deserves to be next in line)
    Bopara (all round potential whilst Colly goes back to basics)
    Rashid (Panesar is too suspect in the field and with the ball - and he is not taking enough wickets)
    Jones or Harmison

    Its risky playing four main bowlers but we need to nurture those batters who can bowl more....Bopara definitely, KP can, Bell used to, even Shah...but let the other four tak the load.
    Vaughan has to go...3 centuries since the Ashes 05 and only one of them was a really good innings..the NZ, West Indies and India..all at home and 3 of the weaker test nations.

  • Comment number 73.

    My previous comment didn't appear and I abided by house rules so I guess my opinion is not important:

    Vaughan (last chance)
    Collingwood (last chance)
    G. Jones
    S. Jones

    Whether this gets through or not, I'm off to bed.

  • Comment number 74.

    I'm intrigued as to all the bloggers calling for Cook to be captain over Strauss. This is a genuine question which I don't know the answer to - what credentials does he have as a captain?

  • Comment number 75.

    All out before lunch:
    ha ha ha G.Jones..ha ha ha are you mad? thats why your comment was not posted!!
    and for the last time broad is a bowler not a frontline batsman so there is no chance of him batting at 6.
    he will only play in a 5 man attack batting at 7 or 8.

  • Comment number 76.

    "A mediocre South African side? What evidence do you have for stating this? If you have a look back over our track record for the last 2 years, I think you will find that we are deservedly number 2 and considerably ahead of England."

    from what I can see South Africa managed to just about win in Pakistan, Just about beat India at home and that is about it. South Africa should beat the Windies, Bangladesh and New Zealand regularily. This is hardly a world beating side and there is not a single bowler in South Afica's lineup that looks world class, from what I have seen in this series alone. This is a mediocre SA side that we should be beating.

  • Comment number 77.

    Vaughn was offered the services of Hoggard for the last test (as he wanted a swing bowler), he declined and got Pattinson instead and made him play. In one super cool stroke, he made Hoggard feel unwanted, Pattinson feel unEnglish, and worst of all, made Tremlet feel useless.

    This test, he got Harmision in the squad before sending him back to the county circuit. A soft soul that Harmision is, he is probably feeling useless right now, and the bang-it-in bowler Tremlet that Harmision replaced in the squad is probably close to quitting.

    He got his good friend Collingwood in the team, who is "... a great man to have around". I recon he needed a decoy to take the heat off of him as and when his inevitable batting failure arrived. He got his wish. Collingwood would be taking the flak and Vaughn would no doubt blame the umpire for his downfall and the unsporting SAfricans who had the temerity to appeal for his snick.

    This blame game never stops with this guy.

  • Comment number 78.

    I find it amusing that people are calling for the only England batsman averaging 50 in tests to be dropped two matches after he made a superb century. KP has a certain way of playing and it comes off more often than not. He may have just had a couple of low scores in a row but with KP you feel that there is always a century just around the corner, no matter what form he's in. You just can't say the same about the rest of the English batsmen.

    People should remember that Ravi Bopara is batting in Division 2 of the county championship. There are a few too many weak bowling attacks, including that of my own county Glamorgan, in Division 2 to assume that his good form will transfer to the test arena. Indeed he has struggled for form when playing in the ODI team despite scoring huge runs for Essex.

  • Comment number 79.

    It seems to me that despite the doom and gloom, England have some reasons to be cheery. It's not that there aren't any good English players around - it's just that the selectors aren't picking them!

    I can understand the justification for keeping Vaughan - you don't drop your captain mid-series, but I cannot fathom the decision to bring back Collingwood. His form with both bat and ball is disastrous.

  • Comment number 80.

    Well-typed Ade. I like the bottleneck metaphor.
    I have to say that I felt I saw in Vaughan's appearance these last few interviews between Headingley and now, he showed signs of being distrait, tired, disappointed, not much of a sparkle in his eye. In short, defeated.
    This is a signal, to my way of thinking, that it's time for change. Both for his own good and for the good of the team.
    This is the Everest of sport, the top of the world as it were, and without that gleam, that fire, that sparkle, that extra magic inside, you haven't a chance.
    Your opponents will have that spark, and all the "chances" will go their way, all the "mistakes" will be soon overwhelmed by contested calls or stellar performances or dogged immovable perseverance and then forgotten, and they'll win. Which they have.
    It looked to me, watching Michael, that he'd given up before it started. So as much as I like him as a player and admire his record so far and obvious skill and even grace at times as captain, I think he needs a rest.
    If he comes back with fire in his eyes tomorrow and rips up Edgbaston and tears into it with his teeth, I'll reconsider. But lacking that, why not give the captaincy to KP?
    I thought he looked perfect in the role in his recent debut. The argument seems to be that it will take his batting performance down a few notches. Perhaps this is a given, but I'd contest that, at least in the long term.
    I have no doubt that what MV has gone through as Captain recently has affected his batting. And he's been at it for a while, now, and should we not recognize legitimate burn-out as a temporal effect?
    I feel that KP would take the job in hand very quickly and with determination. I think he'd take it very deeply seriously, being a devoted Cricketer in his heart of hearts, and quite a skillful one.
    I say, give him the chance now, and let time and the selector's choices nibble away at him as they will. We should get a few great things out of him in the meantime. I actually think being Captain might improve his overall batting performance.
    Yeah, chancy, I know. But I'd do it, if it were up to me.
    Also, Ian Bell and Stuart Broad are part of the heart of the future of this side, I swear it. Play them. Play them a lot, and make sure their best regimes, (Whoa, sorry! I spoke French!), regimens I meant, of course, their best schedules are monitored and cared for.

    I can't see letting Sidebottom go, he's intimidating as can I say hell? and I can't imagine why Jones hasn't been called up. Well, I can imagine...but still, he should be.
    I love Harmison, would have liked to see if he could hold it together here. But he wasn't chosen. Is there fire in HIS eyes, I wonder?

    I know that selection is a tough game in the real world, and it's all well and good that we sit here in front of our screens, sipping our favourite beverages and picking at pimples until someone's eye gets put out. But in need of a team, all is fair in love and criticism.

    Give the Captaincy to Kevin Pietersen, he's ready, I say. He has the fire, and the added responsibility might even make him a better scorer in the right batting position. He's outstanding, he may be able to withstand the ruinous duties in a surprising way.

    1. Cook
    2. Mustard
    3. Bell
    4. Pietersen
    5. Flintoff
    6. Shah
    7. Broad
    8. Bopara
    9. Sidebottom

    I know, illegal. No way this will happen.
    But what would you do, faced with this side? With Hoggard and Harmison and especially Simon Jones lurking?
    Personally, I'd, if I can say shit here, shit.

    Best from my heart for tomorrow for the current team,
    Bill T

  • Comment number 81.

    Will everyone stop talking tosh about the captain. All I hear is "Key should be in" or "Cook should be the captain", can't you just give it a rest!!!!

    We should be supporting the man in charge, then at the end of the series, then, and only then, should we be having a mass debate about if Vaughan should continue or if it is time for him to step aside.

    We need to think about what the best side in the world would do: Australia. What would they do?? What have they done in the past in these situations?? Remember Mark Taylor?? Was he supported?? or was he castigated mid series?? Was he dropped mid seies?? or was he stuck by and then he came good??

    We need to wait until the right time, not now, and until then lift the pressure, support the WHOLE SIDE, and stop this mass dibating that everone is doing and get behind the guys in the middle

  • Comment number 82.

    Just listened to Vaughan's 34 second interview with Agnew. Vaughan instead of discussing his batting, resorted to attacking Agnew's ability and saying he can't of been good because he only played 3 tests.

    Well Michael Vaughan, if the selectors have any common sense at all, you won't play another 3 more tests!

  • Comment number 83.

    dicey (#50) - England do actually have a spinner available to pick who has over 200 test wickets and is no mug with the bat, having a test century and two fifties to his name. He's even got a doosra.

    Saqlain Mushtaq for England, anyone?

  • Comment number 84.

    Even I, as a staunch supporter of Vaughan, am finding it increasingly difficult to justify his place in the team. His captiancy in the last two tests seems a little flat and his lack of runs must be affecting him.

    But I cannot agree with everyone clamouring for Rob Key to come straight into the side as captain. Strauss did everything that was asked of him when he filled in for Vaughan and seems like he is in control of a good cricket brain. He should be given he captaincy in place of Vaughan and Key given a go at 3, perhaps as his deputy. But making Key the outright captain from the outset could destabilise an already fragile team. And who knows... giving Strauss the captaincy could be the making of him.

    As for Bopara... I still do not rate him or his technique. He may be good enough for ODI cricket, but he still needs to do a lot to convince me of his ability (and to say he could bowl a few overs is ridiculous). Shah could be given a go, but I don't rate his temprament. I hope I'm wrong, but I do not see these guys as saviours of the team.

    As for Ed Joyce, so far this season from 19 first class innings, he has a high score of 89. Ed Smith - another tried and dumped batsmen - has an even worse record. Butcher, however, has been stacking up the runs for Surrey. Being nearly 36 though, it is fair to say he won't get a look in.

    So, what would I do? Firstly, we need a strike bowler. I'm not a fan of Harmison, but I cannot deny the case he has made so far this season. Observers have said he's been bowling better lines and has been, on the whole, less erratic. So, team would be the following:

    Strauss (Capt.)
    Harmison/Jones (Jones still needs to prove 100% fitness, but he is by far a better strike bowler than Harmison - his stats so far this season bear that out - and swings it at pace)

    Bell really needs to learn to stop giving his wicket away. I do not agree with the TMS crew - Bell didn't get an unplayable one. It was a decent ball, but England have been bowling decent balls all summer. If every decent ball resulted in a wicket, SA would have been bowled out for 200 in each innings. So, I'll say again what I said previously - we could learn a lot from their methodology. McKenzie, Amla, Prince... they rarely play anything that isn't going on to hit the stumps, unless the ball begs to be thwacked. "Patience" has been their watchword and look at what rewards that brings. For me, it doesn't seem like the England line-up knows where the off peg is and have this ingrained desire to get bat on ball on everything. And look at the consequences that brings.

    Finally, Panesar is starting to irritate me a bit now as well. His lack of variation is a concern - unless it is a raging turner he seems fairly innocuous. OK, he got some wickets at Lords, but there's still something about him I'm still not sure about. For me, you need your best bowlers in the squad, almost irrespective of who those players are. If Panesar isn't picking up wickets, then we should consider bringing in Jones and going for an all pace attack. Afterall, you must take 20 wickets to win a test match - if your spinner doesn't look like he's going to take that many, has dodgy fielding and can't bat, then exactly what is he doing in the side?

    There... that feels better!

  • Comment number 85.

    Check my previous comments.
    Vaughan should not be in the side as his batting is simply not good enough.
    Colly is so out of form, asking him to find it at the highest level is bizarre.
    Our gloveman can't hack it, if we want a Gilchrist kind of solution we don't have it. Bring back Prior.
    Or retry Mustard.
    Monty, although has talent, he needs some TLC but should be asked to ply his trade at county level.
    Why drop Broad (5 for 47 today I think) plus he adds respectability to our score.
    The madness which was not including Harmy.
    THis was insanity at its most profound.
    We got what we deserve and well done SA.
    However why give them easy pickings with inept or gutless selection.
    England can prove me, and many others wrong in this test, but it will only paper over the cracks.
    Moore's please fall on your sword.
    You sound good in front of the camera but I'd rather you grasp the nettle with sweeping changes.

  • Comment number 86.

    Not enough children are encouraged to play sport in the UK, hence todays cricket "performance" and many, many other British sporting debacles. Oh well say the sporting authorities/administrators, let's pay the sportsmen more next year and the problems will be solved.

    Again though, thoroughly well played South Africa.

  • Comment number 87.

    Quite what Collingwood has done to earn his recall at the expense of Broad is beyond me. He certainly didn't play his way back into form with his county. Broad currently offers more with the bat, and certainly more with the ball (even though he's not the deadliest of bowlers). This smacks of jobs for the boys to me, and whilst I don't back a return to revolving door selection policies of the late 80s/early 90s, there does need to be some sense that the players are earning their selection.

  • Comment number 88.

    XI for the last Test:

    1. COOK
    2. STRAUSS
    3. BELL
    4. KP
    5. VAUGHAN
    6. BOPARA
    7. PRIOR
    9. BROAD
    10. HARMISON
    11. ANDERSON


    Only two spinners influence a game with any sort of regularity.

    One's called Warne and the other's Sri Lankan.

    Neither are available to England unless we can pull a Pattinson with them.

    KP tweaks the ball as much as Panesar and always looks just as likely to take a wicket.

  • Comment number 89.


    I love those comments, what a blog it would be if everyone was happy to support Vaughan.

    Unfortunately the hardened cricket fans amongst us would be more than happy to see Vaughan do well, we would cheer and support and enjoy the good times - and the good times will even get you so far into the bad times.

    The Ashes 2005 meant that the team avoided massive castigation following the abismal 06/07 Ashes series.

    Unfortunately though, we can know longer remember the good times, and we are sick of the failure. Thats why we cannot get behind the skipper.

    Hes not up to the task as a batsmen, and over the last year his captaincy has been bought into question too many times.

    Moores has struggled to get the team going, and in all honesty, its hard to see where we are going. The selection looks tired, the good county players can't get into the team because the England team is being used to help out of form players rediscover times long ago and its all quite disturbing.

    We have 150 or so first class cricketers to pick from. So why do we insist with only using the 14 or 15?

    Its tired, its myopic and its damaging our national game.

  • Comment number 90.

    1-0 to Aggers I think. That uncalled for and petulant remark by Vaughan is going to haunt him after another failure.
    Do us and yourself a favour, Mike. Take a break. You deserve it and need it. Take the rest of the Summer off and come back for Winter refreshed and ready to show why you are STILL world class.

    As for Ambrose, it's time we stopped beating ourselves up about finding a player brilliant both with the bat and behind the sticks. We don't have one and haven't since Alex Stewart. Batsmen should be picked because they can bat, bowlers because they take wickets and glovemen because they can keep. If they prove no mugs in other areas, then great. If not, glory in what they can do and let them get on with it.
    Frankly, if our top 6 or 7 did what they're hyped up to be able to do, then a runmaking wicketkeeper wouldn't be a priority.

  • Comment number 91.

    My worry is that as Vaughan desperately hangs on to his place with yet more excuses, as leader he is creating a more general culture of self-pity and blamelessness in the dressing room.

    I think the general attitude within the team at the moment seems poor- far too cosy and self-congratulatory. Without wishing to sound reactionary, I would be keen to see half the team swapped about for a few games, to bring in some youth and enthusiasm and a renewed taste for competition. (The Lions team seems to be fairly pointless as it doesn't seem like any of them will ever be rewarded anyway). The selectors are making daft decisions and muddled swaps at the moment so I think we would be much better to do something wholesale and actually learn something from it. Even if we took a beating we might learn a bit about/from the character of our younger cricketers (ie.Broad) and also break up the creeping sense of cronyism.

    Today England's batsmen came out as though they were there to mow the lawn, in stark contrast to Nel who looked as though he was there to find snakes to strangle.

  • Comment number 92.

    So predictable these days that I can only laugh and watch in morbid fascination to see how bad it gets.

    The problem with England was demonstrated by the reaction to winning the Ashes: euphoria and hyperbole, and gongs all round.

    The Aussies win the Ashes more or less every 18 months and they never get gongs - yet QE2 is their queen too.

    It's an attitude thing: Vaughan and his men felt they'd reached the summit, and the only way forward was down. By way of contrast, when the Aussies reached the summit they built a fortress and defended it like lions.

    So we traipes unhappily from one "new Ian Botham" to the next (Broad recently had this millstone draped around his neck) hoping for him to rescue us in a Boys' Own fantasy sort of way.

    We need players who want to win, not players who sort of hope to improve when everything sort of comes together in a couple of games, and who can always take positives from any crushing humiliation.

    KP: if he gets the captaincy when Vaughan is finally pushed, I will stop following the national game. He's a disgrace. Look at the criticism heaped on Graeme Hick many years ago because with all his undoubted talent he consistently underperformed in the international game. Yet somehow Kevin, alleged genius batsman even though he only scores 4 runs half the time is untouchable.

  • Comment number 93.

    Vaughan's response to Agnew's question was an utter disgrace for an England captain. Aggers had every right to ask that question, as would any journalist. It was pathetic and exposed him for the egocentric, vain man he is. Aggers shouldn't even have dignified Vaughan's comments by saying that he had played test cricket.

    A first ball duck was hubris indeed.

  • Comment number 94.

    I am afriad we are heading towards the end of the Vaughan reign. He cannot justify his place any longer. That whole top 5 are just firing as a unit and haven't for well over a year. It's just become too much of a closed club. I don't know what more Shah has needed to do to earn a run. They need to shake that top 5 up completely.

  • Comment number 95.

    Wow, just listened to the Vaughan/Aggers exchange... not classy, not classy at all from Mr. Vaughan.

    Being generous, you'd say it was mometary fit of pique, and then he certainly owes Johnathan an apology. Being critical, you'd say... well, stuff that would break the House Rules!

  • Comment number 96.

    I can't believe so many people are of the opinion Rob Key should be England captain! I would love to of seen him established by now as his talent deserved but i would also of loved Ramps, Crawley to have become 'world class' test players. The fact is they all fell just short for whatever reason so please, no more Key for captain rubbish.

    There is no one i can see to replace Vaughan which leaves me praying he will hit form again!

    I also can't help thinking that Strauss and Cook look technically flawed and are the worst front foot players i have seen batting! the way the bat always turns in their hands going half forward. Pitch it up, job done it always feels despite their overall averages. They will both go through a Colly patch soon and what then?

    who's out there to break into this closed shop? can Denly be good enough? Rashid sooner rather then later? Shah should have had a chance to fail by now, especially in Sri Lanka.

  • Comment number 97.

    It's clear to everyone that Vaughan's batting form is poor at the moment, but he remains in the team as there is a belief that his captaincy makes up for this.

    But is his captaincy still up to scratch?
    1. He frequently continues to attack opposition batsmen when a defensive field would pose more problems
    2. He under-uses Monty
    3. Through his determination to pick a consistent team he has created an atmosphere of complacency
    4. When Flintoff is fit he stops thinking imaginatively and just throws Freddy the ball
    5. Fielding/catching is deteriorating (Vaughan's expecially).

    Can his captaincy really continue to offset his poor batting? I don't believe so.

  • Comment number 98.

    Regards Nel, if there is one thing that should fire up England it is the sight of his taunting Cook after he was out. I certainly hope that little performance is remembered when England take the field tomorrow and is paid back in the best way possible i.e by calmly whipping South Africa session after session after session. Nel clearly has a chip on his shoulder and is temperamental, push that temperament and he I feel he will lose the plot.

  • Comment number 99.

    Team for oval test:

    Butcher (c)

  • Comment number 100.

    Possible starting test for 1st test in next summers ashes:

    1. Cook
    2. Strauss
    3. Pietersen
    4. Bell
    5. Shah
    6. Flintoff
    7. Foster
    8. Broad (providing he's taking stacks of wickets)
    9. Sidebottom
    10. Jones
    11. Monty

    Never going to happen i realise!! Think the balance is good though (if only Flintoff can begin to find some sustainable form again with the bat)


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