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Pressure mounting on the England captain

Jonathan Agnew | 12:50 UK time, Tuesday, 29 July 2008

In returning to the tried and tested format of six batsmen and four bowlers, England are hoping to give the impression of bolstering their batting line-up.

Tim Ambrose batting at number six at Headingley simply did not look right - he does not yet have a presence at the crease - and although they could have restored Andrew Flintoff to that position, they hope that four bowlers will be enough here.

That could change at The Oval, in the middle of a crucial fortnight for England, especially so for their captain Michael Vaughan, on whom the pressure to score runs is steadily mounting.

He seems relaxed enough in public, but he knows that no captain is fireproof, especially when his team is losing.

Add loss of form to that and the situation can quickly become serious and, having scored only two hundreds and four fifties in his last 29 Test innings, Vaughan's predicament is starting to have a worryingly permanent look to it.

Andrew Flintoff and Michael Vaughan making light of England's predicament

He is fortunate that there are no obvious rivals at present - Andrew Strauss is feeling his way back, Paul Collingwood is also short of runs and the only real contender, Kevin Pietersen, needs to be left alone to concentrate on playing big innings.

There might be some raised eyebrows at Stuart Broad's omission from the final XI, particularly after his lovely batting at Headingley. But his bowling looked tired and rather lacklustre there after the marathon stint in the field at Lord's, and England are understandably nervous about playing him here as one of only four bowlers.

I suspect the same concern was raised about Steve Harmison, and with Andrew Flintoff now able to add some aggression and Ryan Sidebottom a different angle, this is the best balance for now.

But England will probably need to turn to five bowlers again in the near future, and so will face the same conundrum as at Headingley. This is what puts Ambrose's neck on the line here as England continue their five-year search for Alec Stewart's successor.

Update by blog editor at 0915 on 30 July: Click here for Vaughan's response to Aggers (it's well worth a listen)


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  • Comment number 1.

    I think Vaughns days could well be numbered. While he looks fantastic when hes in, hes incredibly vulnerable to even a decent ball early on. The team selections recently aren't helping either, the national side has become a boys club with the same people playing regardless. To bring back collingwood straight away rather than giving someone like Shah a chance is pretty poor, and this kind of selection has made this Englad team very average over the last couple of years. There are good players out there in the county game but they will never get a chance under the current regime.

  • Comment number 2.

    Totally agree Aggers. If Vaughan fails to post a couple of decent scores in the remaining two test matches I cannot see him remaining in the team or touring during the winter.
    Leaving out Harmison is the right decision as I really think he is fortunate to be back in the fold.
    The one guy who has been hard done by is Broad who has a far better attitude to the game than Harmison and if we do go back to five bowlers for the Oval then surely he should get the nod.
    Finally, I feel that another poor performance here from Ambrose with gloves and bat should warrant a recall for Prior.

  • Comment number 3.

    Back to tried and tested. Probably a good decision, but it just shows what a complete shambles the Headingley selection was!

    But that's water under the bridge.

    Broad has the qualities of a true all-rounder, if properly nurtured, and I hope his omission will be seen as "seniority trumps youth" for the time being. Over the medium term, he may very well become first choice over Freddie, if the latter does not return to his full abilities.

    I remain unconvinced of our keeper choice. Ambrose back at 8 is more appropriate than 6, but Prior remains the better keeper-batsman in my view and should not have been dropped.

  • Comment number 4.

    I dont understand why england would include Sidebottom instead of Harmisson.
    England cant bowl teams out twice im a match, they simply dont have the fire power to do so.

    My team would look like this.

    Vaughn (C)

  • Comment number 5.

    It seems unfair on England and Vaughn to be judged this way. Ironically, if England had performed poorly in the first innings of test I, to scrape home with a draw, the tone would be different...
    Reality is still what it was before the series: avoiding a whitewash is the objective for a decent team against probably the best test team in the world.
    But UK media always manage to become the 12th man - the opposition's 12th man, that is... Thanks guys.

  • Comment number 6.

    The biggest problem for England so far this series has been their inability to take 20 SA wickets. Dropping a bowler is surely not the answer (especially with Broad looking in better form than Collingwood). And surely there must be some concerns about over-bowling Freddie if England spend another 2 or more days in the field.

    Furthermore, since England have opted for six batsmen surely Prior, who has been in supreme form with the bat for Sussex, is a better choice than Collingwood.

    A final thought - Sidebottom seems to have cemented himself into the team. Is he a possible future captain?

  • Comment number 7.

    On reflection I tend to agree with you that this probably is the most balanced team for now. The pitch had the final word (as it always should) and so Harmison shelved for now. More than the pitch though, winning the toss and making the right decision will be crucial. Vaughn lost the last two so hopefully......!!!!? I think Vaughn will come good here because Steyn won't be playing. I'm also particularly hoping Panesar comes to the party. He could win this one for England I feel.

    South Africans will be going in for the kill though and certainly a must not lose match for England. (I think that is more the reason Collingwood comes back to be honest).

  • Comment number 8.

    Vaughan has to start scoring again, otherwise he might as well bat at 10. I think Bell should move back to 3 and let Vaughan come in at 4, may reduce the pressure a bit.

  • Comment number 9.

    Can't understand why Harmison has been left out - or why Jones was not named in the squad. While neither of these two should have returned to the squad by default (as Flintoff did in the last match) they have done enough at county level to make a strong case for inclusion, and on form, they are proven test-quality bowlers who have succeeded at the highest level. It may have escaped the selectors' attention, but England have been unable to get through the SA batting line-up since the first innings at Lord's. Sidebottom's control and possible swing will be a big help, but if Harmison is bowling well, he's a quality bowler, and I'd have had him in the side rather than Anderson, who could easily go for alot of runs at Edgbaston. And it's not as though Collingwood has returned to form, is it?

  • Comment number 10.

    England go into this test with only two wicket-taking seamers, Flintoff and Anderson. As good as they are, that's too much to ask. Sidebottom, an honest and accurate medium-pace bowler, is never going to trouble the Saffers, who (unlike New Zealand, whom Sidebottom terrorised) have shown the patience and technique to score at 2.5 an over and slowly build up big scores against accurate but unthreatening bowling of Sidebottom's kind.

    And why has Collingwood been brought back? Recent months have shown that, whilst he tried hard, he does not have the technique for test cricket (except on very flat pitches). Broad may not be bowling well, but he's in better nick as a batsman than Collingwood. Bizarre.

    This is the worst, most negative team they could have chosen from the squad. The Saffers will be looking forward to an easy victory.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm a great believer, Jonathan, that you only change a team when you can strength it. Any side can get injuries, that's unavoidable. But otherwise, you have to think to yourself, does this change strengthen the side.

    Vaughan has struggled for runs of late. I'm not so sure that his captaincy is all that it was a couple of years back, either. But again, you have to ask, who could be given the job that is better?

    There is no queue of talented county captains, at least from where I'm sitting, to take Vaughan's place. In my view, if he stays fit, Vaughan keeps the job up to the end of the 2009 Ashes series.

    After that, there is a good chance that a change will come in both coach and captain. It's a certainty if we lose to Australia.

    In the meantime, England are not going to drop Vaughan. He is the only guy we have out there who has taken on the Australians and won. They probably respect him more as captain than we do here!

  • Comment number 12.

    If Ambrose is only up to batting at 8, we may as well pick James Foster. He's easily good enough to bat at 8 and is a far safer keeper.

    In reality Prior is probably the answer that will allow five bowlers.

  • Comment number 13.

    Aggers you make sense my friend but you fail to make the connection that there is a ready made captain and number 3 waiting to step right into Vaughan's shoes.......Robert Key. A superb tactician and much more reliable and consistent batter. England haven't got the "balls" to do both at once but it would provide the shake up required. I am an Essex man too so am not biased at all but this seems so obvious to me.

    Secondly what has Paul Collingwood done to get himself back in the line up ? All this rubbish about being the hardest worker and most patriotic doesn't make up for his obvious limitations as a test batsman.

    On Wednesday , England will once again come "hopping out" eating carrots at the fall of the 4th wicket. I really can't see how we can compete at all with the side we;ve picked. I hope i'll be made to eat my words but you know where you heard it first !!

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm a little bemused by Agger's constant sniping at Vaughan's place in the side. In the 4 series prior to this one, England's top 6 have performed as follows:-

    Pietersen (23 inns),1256 runs at averages of 66,57,43,46
    Vaughan (21), 942 runs at 64,49,20,50
    Cook (23) 929 at 56,37,32,28
    Strauss (23) 919 at 24,35,45,66
    Collingwood (23) 832 at 59,32,40,10
    Bell (22) 712 at 45,31,50,15

    I'm struggling to see why the finger is pointed at Vaughan rather than the others, with the exception of Pietersen. Vaughan is the only credible captain at the moment. Sure, he needs some runs but are we really saying that if someone makes a century that makes everything all right. Bell's 199 is a case in point. Does that score cement his place and wipe out the last 2 year's underachievement?
    ALL the batsment need to contribute much more consistently than they have done, as does the wicket keeper. They need to give our average bowling attack the chance to take the 20 wickets required.

  • Comment number 15.

    Ah cosy club England.
    They leave Collingwood out because he hasn't scored anywhere near the weight of runs required in Test matches recently and his 1st class form for Durham has been abysmal.
    1 test match later, no 1st class cricket for Collingwood so no improvement in his form and he's back in the team.
    Can't have anything to do with the fact his the skippers mate can it?? that and the fact Vaughan is big mates with Giles means this England team will be a closed shop for a very, very long time because Vaughan will 'advise' Giles the selector who he'd like in the squad, Giles recommends them and hey presto Vaughan has the side that never changes and on the evidence of the past 18 months never wins any meaningful test matches let alone series.

    As a Somerset supporter I cannot believe Bopara is constently overlooked at test level this season. He has scored runs and big runs in every single format of the game and takes wickets, something Collingwood hasn't done for a couple of years.

  • Comment number 16.

    sussex23, why have you dropped englands most consistant bowler??

    although i would like to see broad in the team, for collingwood - he s aparently fatigued at the moment, so Shah or Bopara anyone?

    and whats wrong with Foster of Essex, great keeper, good batsman, or Mustard - the same. Ambrose has shown he is not quite international quality.

    the 4 man attack looks relatively good - pace, swing and spin. I dont understand the criticism of Sidebottom? what has he done wrong, he WILL take wickets, probing away, swinging and seaming.
    next match, Broad back for Collingwood, Foster in for Ambrose, batting in depth for the runs and quality bowlers to get wickets

  • Comment number 17.

    On a seperate point drewster499 is 100% right about Key. Bring him into the 1 day side to captain and open the batting then we'll have someone putting pressure on Vaughan.
    Vaughan likes Collingwood as the 'split' captain because he isn't a threat to his test captancy

  • Comment number 18.

    A couple of points:

    1. I don't understand how anyone can tout KP as a serious successor to Vaughan. In my view his performace at Lord's as Captain was fairly bad and it affected his batting. He's like Fred - performs best for us if left to play naturally.

    Andrew Strauss is surely the only contender. He seems to bat better with the Captaincy and he's got plenty of experience. Get him in soon, either before or the WI series after Christmas. He should be ODI skipper too, particularly after the controversy Collingwood has attracted, from being caught in that club in SA to that run-out at The Oval. Collingwood hasn't been a great Captain and Strauss deserves the job and has been treated frankly appallingly by the selectors over this issue.

    2. Drop Ambrose and pick James Foster or Ben Scott, who has been keeping excellently for Middlesex all season. He's scored a few runs too.

    3. I cannot believe they've brought back Collingwood so quickly, what a joke.

  • Comment number 19.

    Does anyone know how many runs Collingwood scored for his county while he was out of the Test side?

  • Comment number 20.

    rav_man, Sidebottom hasn't done anything 'wrong'. He's used his talents to the best of his ability in turning himself into a consistently accurate medium pace bowler. My point is that, without pace and movement (which Sidebottom doesn't generate, except on a wet Headingley wicket), you won't trouble a good batting lineup like the South African one. England need to take 20 wickets, not simply restrict the scoring rate.

  • Comment number 21.

    can anyone please explain to me how Agnew and others have commented that it is right to drop broad because he has looked a bit toothless and tired in the bowling!!

    Hold on a minute... England haven't played since Monday last week.... How long does it take to recover... Is 10 days not enough for an international bowler!! to me that just sounds like the team aren't fit enough or don't have the desire to play a 4 match series... am I wrong!

    I have to agree with peoples comments re Vaughan though. His average has just not been good enough for far too long and Ambrose must go...

    My team would be

    Bopara/ Collingwood
    Sidebottom/ (Jones/ Harmisson dep on conditions)

  • Comment number 22.

    Why do we need to play 5 bowlers? When we played 5 bowlers before it was because Giles couldnt be relied upon to bowl in 1st innings of games. and not always 2nd innings of games either

    We should pick our 4 best bowlers and simply have a 5th option to rest the frontline bowlers. This side looks the most balanced side I've seen for some time from England, if we struggle to bowl South Africa out it's not because we only have 4 bowlers its because the 4 bowlers we do have arn't good enough.

  • Comment number 23.

    Does anyone in the coutry feel that collingwood should be in this england set up simply as a batsman?

    Either bring in Prior and bat him at six (he's got a average better than colly) and play five bowlers and give yourself a chance at bowling out a team that haven't looked like they are going to give any wickets away. Or if the selectors are still concerned at the weakness of the batting then bring in a specialist batsman such as Rob Key. The sight of Key coming to the wicket would give me far more confidence than seeing an out of nick collingwood; he's got a higher average and his technique is far better at test level. Collingwood is not a test batsman!

    I'm glad at the omission of Harmison; this was the wrong pitch for him and I'm not sure what the selectors were thinking bringing him into the squad for this ground. If we are going to call back cricketers who have dubious claims to be in the side, then at least do it when they are the right horse for the course.

    Finally, vaughan: Watch your back!

  • Comment number 24.

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    What a pickle the selectors have got themselves into.

    The only way out of this is to drop Vaughan, give the captaincy to Strauss or Collingwood, Bell bats at 3, replace Ambrose with Foster and bring Broad back in.
    Vaughan simply hasn't got it anymore. Strauss is probably the way forward. Bell at 3 gives Pietersen a chance to build an innings. Foster is the best gloveman in the country and has been for several years - remember it was only a broken arm that forced him out of the England side in the first place, not a drop in form.
    Even if Broad's bowling is a bit under par, being in the side will be far better for him than being out of it - how batting more than makes up for it, as it's about time we had someone in the tail who could bat.
    Welcome back Freddy - we've missed you.

    Sorry Darren - your selection was a huge mistake and probably won't be repeated but that's not your fault.

  • Comment number 25.

    What on earth does James Foster have to do to get an England spot? Once again, last night the television cameras were on him and he performed amazingly. To be Englands No. 1 choice, surely you would have to be either the best gloveman or the best keeper/batsman; Ambrose is neither.

    On the other note of bringing back collingwood, it stinks of inconsistency. He was dropped for the reason of not scoring enough runs and hasn't remedied that in county cricket. Now i am a big fan of his but i feel it shouldn't be one rule for him and a different rule for others even if he is the one day captain. At least Harmison has been taking wickets which was what he needed to do.

  • Comment number 26.

    Yes, somebody ese mentioned Robert Key. He started amazingly a few years ago, against SA I believe, in SA and made centuries.

    Why is Key no longer in the frame?

  • Comment number 27.

    great point Dan_19, i totally agree.
    ambrose just isn't working, give foster a try, and bring back broad! just his batting is worth a place!
    i would bat broad at 7, poss even 6 he defenitely has the potential to be a top class allrounder.


    whats the problem with that?

  • Comment number 28.

    Does anyone (apart from Captain Courageous) really believe that Collingwood will score more runs than Broad, given his current form? If not, surely Broad's bowling could be regarded as a bonus / 5th bowler ration?

    This smacks of Vaughan sticking up for his mates. As an SA supporter I'm quite happy with this team selection. Not saying Colly can't turn it around, but certainly unlikely given the available evidence.

  • Comment number 29.

    Don't understand the previous poster who said something like this being an unfair way to judge England and Vaughan.

    How else do you suggest a team, a captain and batsman are judged other than on results and runs?

    Perhaps the suggestion is that we get in the Strictly Come Dancing judges to adjudicate on artistic merit and how synchronised the pre-game huddle is during 'Jerusalem?'

    If the team loses and the captain doesnt make runs, then all he is doing is tossing the coin.

  • Comment number 30.

    How does collingwood get back in the team to replace broad? even if broad is tired he could bat 6 on current form (significantly better than colly's) and be used as the fifth bowler... At least Harmison went away and took alot of wickets before being recalled, Colly (like Strauss before him) has done nothing to actually justify being recalled

  • Comment number 31.

    Spot on, Aggers, about Vaughan but, as captain, he will still be around at the Oval however badly he performs at Edgbaston.

    With so many drugs-in-sport cases in the news again, I think someone should have a serious look at what the selectors might be taking: it certainly isn't performance-enhancing. The in-again out-again antics over Harmison and Collingwood beggar belief. Tremlett must pleased to be shot of it for the time being.

  • Comment number 32.

    How could anyone consider leaving Sidebottom out if he's fit? He has 75 wickets at 25 from only 17 tests. He's certainly more likely to take wickets than Harmison.

    If England are, as they should, only going to play four bowlers, Freddie and Sidebottom are certainly going to play, meaning the rest are fighting for one place.

  • Comment number 33.

    Again a great piece. I agree that we needed to strengthen the batting if only to get some confidence back. However Shah would have been a better pick. If there reason for choosing Collingwood was that he can bowl abit then it seems a silly pick since Collingwood could bowl all day at Ntini and not get him out.

  • Comment number 34.

    I agree with other posters,England is just a cosy club where friends pick friends.
    Pattinson disrupted the team because he was not in the clique.
    Broad has been dropped for committing the cardinal sin of embarrassing the top order batsmen.
    What a disgrace.

  • Comment number 35.

    i dont see what foster or shah have to do to get into this current england line up

    and to think the england team were celebrating the same team being picked 6 times in a row, thats ridiculous why constatntly select under performing players

    theres so many batsmen and bowlers doing well in the county game

    the current selection is a joke, infact its WORSE THAN OUR ONE DAY SELECTION WAS RECENTLY. The fact that foster and shah etc cant get a game when players like collingwood are brought back after scoring hardly any runs is appsaloutely shocking


  • Comment number 36.

    Get Rob Key in the side. He has absolutely flourished as captain of Kent in the last couple of seasons and would make a superb England skipper. You can't stick him in as captain straight away, so dump Collingwood, stick Vaughan at 6 and open with Key. When Vaughan has made it 40 innings with no Test century, then we can drop him.

    As for the bowlers, who cares? They're all crap.

  • Comment number 37.

    Finally someone questioning Vaughan's place in the team.

    His ability as a captain is not in doubt but I have just read an article by James Haskell and he said the captain should be the best guy for the job out of the best 15 (or 11 in this case) picked, not first name on the team sheet then picked around him.

    While this is not true in all situations, I believe it applies in this one. Vaughan has not been getting runs for a very long time and although he had 1 beautiful knock against (a very poor) New Zealand, with Australia coming up it is time for Strauss to take on the mantle and gain some experience of doing the job in test matches.

    What more do Shah and Bopara have to do to get a look in at test match level? I suppose you could argue that Bopara failed in Sri Lanka but who didn't? Also, its pretty difficult to play well when you are only keeping someone's seat warm and this has been the case with England for a long time.

    The keeper issue is not really an issue if you play four bowlers as Ambrose is a good number 8 and has made no glaring errors with the gloves and Flintoff could very well be a destructive number 7 if he returns to any sort of form.

    The problem arises when you cannot take 20 wickets, which we are not doing at the moment, so you need to look for a good keeper who can bat and an all rounder. Prior is an option, although I think he should concentrate solely on his batting and come in at 5/6 anyway (above Colly must definately) and Read and Foster do not have good enough batting technique for this level. Davies at Worcester is the one for the future so I think we should get him in behind the stumps now and give him time to progress. He's not going to do any worse than Ambrose and will certainly be a better player further down the road.

    Finally the bowling. Why bother picking Harmison and not playing him? The same applies to Pattinson, one test match is no way to judge.

    Although Anderson was probably the pick of the bowlers at Headingley, he still does not take enough wickets or bowl economically enough to warrant a place in the side. Once again is ok to look good against New Zealand but he was rubbish against India last summer and he is easy meat for the South Africans this time around. The selectors told Harmison to bowl for Durham and take wickets, which he has and I bet if you asked Graeme Smith who he would rather face the answer would be Anderson. The only logical reason for his continued selection could be that they are waiting for Simon Jones to get fit and replace him.

  • Comment number 38.

    Can't see this attack bowling out South Africa twice.We need to win next two tests to win series. Should have included Harmison to give them a chance.
    Vaughan needs to perform well in both next two tests to stay in team.

  • Comment number 39.

    few things to mension on the keeper selection matter. if england are going to bat their keeper at 6 like in the last test, then prior/mustard are the obvious choices. however, if england are going to bat their keeper at 8 like in they are going to in the next test, this indicates that the keeper should be a keeper that can bat, not a batsmen that can keep. going by this, i would pick foster to replace ambrose and to bat at 8. he is easily the best gloveman in the country and his batting has come on well over the last 2 seasons. foster is the man for the job and has been now for a while. i am not really sure why he is getting overlooked all the time

  • Comment number 40.

    As an outsider from The Netherlands I wonder why the bigger picture always gets lost among the details of the individual selections. The long standing problem with the England team is that there is no steel in the team. I accept that you cannot always say what is really going on as a player, but the cheap excuses, the promise of better performances in the future after every poor result not only sound cheap but betray a lack of sense of responsability. Cosy team England, indeed. Remember the following lines? 'We're going to learn from this experience'. Really? Then tell us what you have learned and what difference it has made. 'We're going to surprise a few people'. You mean by actually scoring some runs or capture a few wickets? Well, that would be a surprise. And worst of all, 'We showed a bit of character'. Really mr. Vaughan? Anderson in the second innings at Headingley, yes, but the rest of the team? A sad example of lack of steel is Mark Ramprakash and the way he continued to be selected. A wonderful player who got chance after chance. More than ten years of massive underachievement costing England dear.

  • Comment number 41.

    How is ambrose still in the team he can only play the cut shot and is now starting to make mistakes with the gloves. I watched james foster play for essex against derbyshire last night and he is by far the best gloveman i have ever seen. He was standing up to the stumps to a bowler bowling about 85mph i dont think there is another keeper in the country that could do that, and his batting is pretty good aswell. Collingwood should not be back in the team he was dropped to go find some form and hes not scored any significant runs for durham. I like sidebottom but he does not bowl with enough pace, if we are going to bowl south africa out twice we need harmison or jones in the team. I think the time has come for vaughn to be dropped oais shah deserves a go in test match cricket and id give bell the captaincy.

  • Comment number 42.

    This selection is almost as ludicrous as Pattinson's inclusion in the last test. Broad is young and hungry with a point to prove and should never have been dropped. This idea of burnout is a pitiful excuse. The extended break between tests surely would have been enough for him to feel fully recharged.

    Broad is fast becoming a genuine all-rounder and certainly offers a lot more than Collingwood, who like Vaughan has looked like he's been batting with a tooth pick all season!

    Freddie will be the one to suffer from all this. It will be interesting to see how many overs he'll clock up this time. So much for nurturing him back. He already has the whole expectation of the side on his shoulders.

  • Comment number 43.

    I am happy with the team selection for the next test but I did have Broad to keep his place over Collingwood in view of his superior batting form and being a genuine 5th bowler. Collingwood at 6 looks like a solution to the Ambrose at 6 weakness but remember his lack of form which led to his exclusion at Headingly...

    Poor Shah must wonder what he has to do to get a game!

    Sidebottom back in for Pattinson should make a big difference. I have read with some bewilderment comments and team lists with our player of the year and leading bowler ommitted.

    Others have queried Anderson's right to keep his place and until recently I shared this view as he was expensive and inconsistent. But if you look at his form this year he has been very good; quite how Strauss denied him a player of the series award against the Kiwi's earlier this summer I am not sure! Almost as strange a decision as when Anderson did get the award last summer against the Windies (a certain Mr Pieterson harshly lost out on that occassion)

    The noose tightens around Ambrose's neck but no England keeper since Stuart has been consistent enough with both bat and glove and I suspect the stumper position will continue to cause pub-pundits just as much grief as the infamous left side of England's midfield!

    England will be looking for a bowling hero in the 3rd test; all of the South African batsmen already have at least one hundered chalked up and they have a certain allrounder who has been known to chip in with the odd run from time to time...

  • Comment number 44.

    It is about time Monte Panessar got someone behind the stumps who:-
    1. Can catch the chances that go begging, including stumpings
    2. Will give him the confidence and encouragement to become a better bowler.

    And there is only one good candidate for that, James Foster.
    The role of the wicket-keeper in nurturing a developing spinner has been overlooked

  • Comment number 45.

    I forgot to mention the Skipper!

    Vaughan needs some runs as a batsmen and some results as a captain. If he fails on both accounts in the next two tests questions should rightfully be asked. He should be safe to see out this series though; to fire your nations most successful captain ever mid series would do little for team morale going into the last game.

    To keep things in perspective although we have lost 7 days of test cricket straight we have only actually lost 1 test match off the back of a good run!

  • Comment number 46.

    This makes a mockery of dropping Collingwood for the previous test. One half decent innings for Durham and he is straight back in the side.

    If this is the best we can do to strengthen the batting after the last performance heaven help us.

    The selectors seem to have retreated into the most timid of selections after such a thrashing. What will it take for some changes to be made? Players who have been waiting for some time need to be given chances if the team is failing.

  • Comment number 47.

    With regards to the news that Stuart Broad has not been selected for the 3rd test has prompted my opinion.
    I have felt for a long time know that Michael Vaughan has long dropped the baton as far as being England Captain. A permanent replacement should have been found when he his knee was injured for the last time.
    Replace Michael Vaughan with a new captain before the forth test. My choice is Rob Key.
    Harmison and Collingwood are well past their sell-by date and no longer have the skills or commitment to England to deserve a place in the side. Even a tired Stuart Broad is a better replacement than Paul Collingwood.
    England is becoming a team of Michael Vaughan and is mates he is putting friendship before his role as captain. Perhaps he and his mates are using test cricket as a billboard for advertising their 20-20 skills and thats why the are not performing.
    I feel very strongly that Collingwood Vaughan and Harmison are no longer candidates for a place in the England side. There continued presence will see England slaughtered at the next ashes encounter.
    Broad must be gutted. I rate his ability and commitment as deserving better.
    The line up for the third test should be Robert Key for Vaughan. Broad for Collingwood. Hoggard or Sidebottom the fitter of the two. The rest of the team stays the same the temp Australian bowler giving way to Hoggard or Sidebottom.

  • Comment number 48.

    Totally agree with post #44.
    With Foster behind the stumps you can also get rid of Collingwood and include Bopara. The batting argument is a no-brainer and if you saw the way Bopara/Foster played in tandem last night you should agree that this would seriously give England a credible 5th bowler option whilst not hindering the batting potential. This would ruin Essex but so be it if England are to be serious players in world test cricket.
    Finally bring in Rob Key as skipper and number 3 and England could seriously go places.

  • Comment number 49.

    The England team usually looks good on paper yet, generally, seems to struggle to deliver (excuse the pun).

    Pietersen is not a great player - one good innings a series does not elevate him even close to greatness (apart from his ego). He needs much more consistency to even be considered 'above average'.

    I'd rather have Strauss nibbling 40's, 50's and 60's every time - that's how Graham Thorpe made his mark remember.

    And I watch a good deal of cricket on TV - there are some very useful English players performing well 'consistently'.

    Foster and Key have been exceptional. Surely they must be given an opportunity sooner rather than later, even if it's just in the One Day format. Key would make a very good ODI captain from what I have seen.

  • Comment number 50.

    I just read leedspig's comments (41). I broadly agree with several of his points but Bell as captain?! If batting averages were bodylanguage Bell would be a number 11, not what you want from your skipper!

  • Comment number 51.

    Some really good points made here – I totally agree with howzat07 that the selectors have got themselves into a pickle…

    They’ve shown absolutely no clear or consistent strategy – e.g. happy to be ruthless and drop under-performing bowlers (Harmy/Hoggy), but not the under-performing batsmen. And when they do finally drop Colly – because he’s not performing - he’s allowed back into the team after only 1 game, having done absolutely nothing to show he’s back in any kind of form.

    And the treatment of Tremlett has been unbelievable. Picked in the 12 as a reserve bowler in case someone gets injured, then as soon as someone does get injured, he’s dropped, and a complete unknown – with practically no first class experience – gets shunted in for one game.

    And why hasn’t Shah been given the opportunity he deserves (and has earned)? Why is Foster – the best gloveman in the country by a mile – persistently disregarded? Massively frustrating for England fans – and presumably also for the players, some of whom have been quite shabbily treated.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t relish being an England selector right now – our batsmen are generally down on form; our bowlers are hard-working, but possibly lacking the inspiration to bowl out good sides; and there is no clear-cut wicket-keeper (Prior can bat, but his keeping is suspect; Foster/Ambrose can keep, but batting is questionable).

    Anyway, having shuffled round lots of different options, my side would be:

    Vaughan (C)

    I don’t think Collingwood deserves to be back in the team. I wanted to play Shah in his place – which would have given us a strong top 6, but it would also have left us weak in the back-up bowling department. I also wanted to bring Foster in for Ambrose, but that left us too weak in the batting.

    In the end I went for a short-term solution of bringing back Matt Prior to strengthen the batting, and kept Broad in the side (more as a batsmen who can bowl, than the other way around). I think this is probably the best balanced side we can put out at the moment - we now bat down to 8, AND we have 4 strike bowlers, with good back-up from Broad.

    However, longer term, I’d be looking to get Foster in the team at 8, once Broad has developed a little more, and I would want to try and bring Shah in too if we can find a way of keeping 4+1 bowlers (maybe by dropping Vaughan, but then who could captain??)… And of course if Simon Jones can prove his fitness, then he needs to come back too… Not straightforward!

  • Comment number 52.

    Vaughan should stay as captain as he is a class player who will come good eventually.
    I think Collingwood is very fortunate to get his place back with a mediocre average (considering the modern day flatter pitches) and technique. Owais Shah is in form and experienced and should be allowed enter England's closed shop of a batting line-up

  • Comment number 53.

    Well spoken Aggers!!
    About the wicketkeepers position, Hampshire's Nic Pothas is now qualified for England. How old is he? Too old to continue his too short international career?

  • Comment number 54.

    I agree fully with comments 15 and 37 regarding Ravi Bopara.

    I also watched Bopara's ton against Derbyshire at a pace of 8 runs per over and, regardless of the one-day format, it showed a class batsman at the top of his game. Instead the selectors continue to pick an out of form batsman in Collingwood who has shown no signs of form all summer and is odds on to fail again.

    And Bopara has also taken wickets as a bowler this season, which Collingwood has not.

    Even a team with Broad in rather than Collingwood would be a stronger batting line up on present form. Did Geoff Miller explain to Broad that he was being dropped in order to strengthen the BATTING? Seriously?!

  • Comment number 55.


    You've left out the runs scored in Sri Lanka. I know Bopara played instead of Strauss, but that's hardly a reason to completely ignore that tour.

  • Comment number 56.

    fosters stats ......... which bare in mind he got when he was about 20 are ......... welll SHOCKINGLY GOOD

    he averages 25.11 with a high score of 48 which he scored after spending nearly 3 and half hours at the crease

    and during australias 551-6 declared in his last test he didnt concede a single bye :o

  • Comment number 57.

    It must be an end for people who say "this guy is good beause of what he has done in the past. Far in the past in some cases."
    Its time for people who say "this guy is in form what does he offer for the future."
    Of course a drugs and alchol ban at selectors meeting might help. Come on they selectors must be drunk or on somthing doggy.

  • Comment number 58.

    I cannot beleive that an out of form collingwood stregthens the batting at the cost of an in form (batting wise) broad..
    surely shah or bopara are best options?
    the bowling looks okay but harmy could have add that extra pace and bounce to worry some SA batters, esp Amla....
    i think our attack looks workmanlike and honest rather than explosive and dangerous like it was in 2005 although the like for like replacements of panesar - giles and sidebottom - hoggard are clearly for the best...
    I think vaughan should keep the captaincy for the ashes but only just, key is a much better player than when he had his last run in the side and he has done what vaughan never could manage in getting a test double ton..
    my final gripe would be ambrose, he has kept pretty well and batted well at times at 7 behind 6 batters but with flintoff back the keepers role changes he has to be either (a) the countrys best keeper in a four man attack batting at 8 - foster OR
    (b) the countrys best batsmen/ keeper batting at 6 in a 5 man bowling attack - prior

    this is a big series for england and i think it has shown us that the 6 test unchanged side that was good enough to beat NZ won't challenge india, SA, aus, SL

  • Comment number 59.

    cfawbert - comment 21.

    You have missed out Pietersen - can we assume this is an oversight?

    this has just made me think...maybe Pattinson was a typo!

  • Comment number 60.

    Put simply, this is yet another diabolical selection. The first thing to say is that the selectors should be held to account for their shambolic performance of late. Timid selections time and again, and it all smacks of nepotism with Vaughan and his pals.

    Collingwood should plainly never have been recalled; there's simply nothing that can justify this. He needs to get back into form in county cricket, as has been previously noted one decent innings with Durham does simply not consitute this. The selectors are to my mind out of touch.

    Broad should not have been dropped, I think he'll undoubtedly become a world class all rounder in the future.

    Bold decisions need to be made to glavanise this England team into world beaters. Key as captain, he's been brilliant for Kent, stick him in as one day captain to at least put some pressure on Vaughan, and then promote him to test captain.

    Prior back in as wicketkeeper; very good batsman (particuarly at the moment) and able wicket keeper; Ambrose is simply not up to the job.

    Get rid of these tired selections and get some new blood in there: the likes of Shah, Davies at Worcester would be a good bet; the selectors need to wake up and stop embarassing this country!!

  • Comment number 61.

    I've just seen on Notts website that Broad is playing tomorrow against Durham in the 4 day game at Trent Bridge, so he can't be that exhausted.
    To all of you who suggest Prior please understand that cricket involves batting, bowling and fielding. He may score runs, but he will drop catches, miss stumpings, concede extras and struggle with left arm bowling. He is not and never will be a Test class keeper. Sides with poor keepers do not win matches. If he's good enough to bat at Test level he should get rid of the gloves and concentrate on that.
    Of course his best course of action is to ingratiate himself into the Captain's clique and then he has a place for life irrespective of performance.
    In recent weeks both live and on TV I've watched both Read and Foster keep and they are both excellent. In this side they could both bat at 8 and would improve the team. The keeper sets the whole tone for a sides fielding effort and poor performances behind the stumps adversely affect the bowlers confidence as we saw when Prior played.
    As for Vaughan, he should have gone 2 years ago in my view. I would replace him with Key at the end of this series and inject some new blood, as long as that doesn't mean a new clique and the return of Geraint Jones!

  • Comment number 62.

    Did someone mention Nic Pothas as keeper.... seriously...

    I think it much better if england stopped qualifying people to play for england because they have played here for 5 years!! He's not English.. he played SA schools and SA U19....

    Key at No3 is an interesting suggestion.. he's a lot more confident than his last England call up and as mentioned by earlier blogs ... has the technique..

    Strauss (c)
    Bopara/ Collingwood
    Sidebottom (Harmisson/ Jones dep conditions)

  • Comment number 63.

    I despair at the things people right. We are so so fickle. We moan about the team being a closed shop, but the team was unchanged for 6 games, and whilst winning, the complaints were few and far between.

    In the Ashes series, we kept the same team for 4 successive matches, to great effect. If they had chopped and changed after the first match defeat, I wonder if the result had been the same? Going by how everyone seems to react to ONE defeat, I would guess that most of you would have had made wholesale changes to the 2005 team following the first test defeat.

    The Headlingley selection was shocking, for the message it sends out. But one defeat and the team needs changing is also a bad and message. It may appear a closed club, but I don't think it is. Headlingley proved that, and the damage that bringing in new new faces do was clear.

    Lastly, scoring runs in County cricket does not, as most should know, automatically translate to scoring lots in test cricket. It is a higher level game, and technique, and crucially mental toughness are tested to the full. There is a long list of players who have picked up wickets or scored loads of runs at county, but not reproduced it at test level - G Hick being the prime example.

    I am not a huge fan of any of the team members now, but I see little point in pursuing the usual, predicable, boring and frankly pathetic knee jerk reactions that I read in this blog. This country is full of people who like nothing better than throwing mud and putting the boot in at anyone who does not win. And then we wonder why we don't win!?

  • Comment number 64.

    I still disagree with this selection. What has Collingwood done to warrant a recall? Nothing. The selectors were right to drop him in the first place - in fact he should never have been picked for test matches ever - he's not good enough.

    Dropping Broad is the right thing too - he has looked pretty insipid with the ball though definitely one for the future.

    However a 4 man pace attack containing Fred Flintoff is asking for trouble. Fred would have a very good case to sue the ECB if he breaks down now. People forget how little cricket he's had this season. If he breaks down now, we could lose a) this game b) Fred Flintoff possibly for good c) the series and therefore d) Michael Vaughan as captain. What state would we be in the win the 2009 Ashes then?

    To play Flintoff as one of four main bowlers with his injury record with only one test under his belt since an 18 month layoff is basically a joke.

    I would have left Collingwood and Broad out of the 13 and instructed Fred to be 6 and Ambrose 7. I do concede that this lengthens our tail - but that should give the spineless top order the kick they need to get their heads down and get some runs. By playing Collingwood - effectively we're accepting that the top order can't perform at a level better than they have been of late.

    I don't like the way these new selectors are thinking and I suspect Leeds 2008 won't be the only blunder we see from these guys in the next 12 months.

  • Comment number 65.

    1. Cook
    2. Strauss *
    3. Shah
    4. Pietersen
    5. Bell
    6. Bopara
    7. Flintoff
    8. Foster +
    9. Sidebottom
    10. Anderson
    11. Panesar

  • Comment number 66.

    Collingwood's selection baffles me.

    Let's put aside whether it was right or wrong to drop him. If we follow the selectors' logic (!) in dropping him, however, preseumably it was because he was not making runs. So, they sent him back to county cricket to make runs and prove his worth to the team.

    Now, call me old-fashioned, but he has been out of the team for ,what, 10 days? And has he made any runs of significance in that time?

    I begin to wonder if the selectors know what they are doing.

  • Comment number 67.

    Why is everyone suggesting picking Sidebottom? I've nothing against him personally, but surely this series has shown that medium-pace dobblies (however accurate) won't bowl the Saffers out.

  • Comment number 68.

    If 'fickle' and 'loopy' were ever apparent here on this blog, it is those who think that Sidebottom should not be in. This is the bloke who has consistently taken wickets for the team for the last 12 months, who has been the most consistent bowler, has risen to No 6 in the world rankings, clearly gives his all to his country, and has troubled many a team, and many a good test batsmen with his 'medium pace dobblies'?! Or is there another Sidebottom I don't know about.

    Or are we saying, in complete contrdiction to what most of you are saying, that we drop those that are in form?


  • Comment number 69.

    Assuming the selectors muddle through the last two Tests of this series without much changing, either in terms of personnel or results, and then look to change a couple of things for the winter, maybe this could be the team for the first Test in India:

    Strauss (captain)

  • Comment number 70.

    Hang on. We failed to bowl them out with a four man attack in the second innings at Lords. Then we were in the field for six sessions or so at Headingley with a five man attack - now the selectors think that actually yeah a four man attack can do the trick.

    What was the point in bringing Harmison back in to the squad if he isn't going to play?!

    Next, how many times must we put up with the drivel Aggers spouts about Vaughan. How come Alistair Cook isn't put under scrutiny. After all he is the only batsman apart from Collingwood (who was dropped) that hasn't got a 100 this summer.

    It is absoultely unthinkable that Vaughan gets dropped. Unthinkable.

    He is England's most succesful captain in history. This time next year we will be in the middle of the Ashes. Is it really sensible to think about replacing our captain, the only one in recent history who has won the ashes, so soon before this massive series. Especially as there is no stand out replacment or does Flintoff wade his way back in there.

    People who are calling for Rob Key to come in straight as captain is unbelievable.

    I really hope that Vaughan piles on the runs in this match to shut all you doubters -with exceptionally short memories- up!

  • Comment number 71.

    Okay so we've gotten through a fair number of wicket-keepers since the magical AJ Stewart called it a day - but seriously, how long before the Jimmy Foster gets another crack at the whip. This guy is absolutely head and shoulders above every other wicky in domestic cricket - taking blinding catches down the leg side, standing up to the stumps when tenDo and Napier are bowling, oh yeah and he also keeps wicket to super Danesh - arguably the best spinner in England by a country mile. Seriously - he wouldn't even have to score runs - he saves around 30-40 runs an innings with his takes down the leg-side, creates more stumping opportunities - the guy is awesome!
    Thoughts anyone?

  • Comment number 72.

    England's next XI certainly has a better balance to it, however the inclusion of Flintoff as part of a quartet has to be the exception rather than the rule- at 30 surely now he should be used in shorter, impact bursts, which means Prior should get the gloves back ASAP. Ambrose has never looked test class. Vaughan's spot should be safe for now- who else has the authority to take over the reigns? If someone was worthy of the captaincy surely it would be time to give Shah a prolonged go in the team at his expense. His natural talent is clear for all to see and he's proved now that he can play his best cricket under pressure

  • Comment number 73.

    Leaving aside Sidebottom's single test against Pakistan in 2001, his figures (wickets, average) by series are:

    West Indies in England, 2007: (16 @ 19.68)
    India in England, 2007: (8 @ 37.87)
    England in Sri Lanka, 2007/08: (5 @ 63.60)
    England in New Zealand, 2007/08: (24 @ 17.08)
    New Zealand in England, 2008: (17 @ 20.47)


    In other words, in the two series against decent opposition (India and Sri Lanka), Sidebottom was ineffective. His figures have been bloated by playing poor sides (WI and NZ), who lost their wickets playing poor shots to Sidebottom's accurate but sedate bowling.

    Harmison wouldn't have been my choice by any means, but he has taken wickets against good teams (e.g. Australia), as has Simon Jones.

  • Comment number 74.

    I have come up with this team based on all the comments above:

    1. Strauss
    2. Cook
    3. Key
    4. Pietersen
    5. Bell
    6. Flintoff
    7. Broad
    8. Foster
    9. Sidebottom
    10. Anderson
    11. Panesar

    Key in for Vaughan
    Broad for Collingwood
    Foster for Ambrose
    Strauss or Key to captain

    Are we better than the selectors or would this team get stuffed?

  • Comment number 75.

    Interviewer: George Parr, you are an England Cricket Selector...?

    GP : Yes, yes, I am...unfortunately. I didn't intend to be, but there were no vacancies on the parish council... and I thought it might be fun...

    Interviewer: Fun...? Ye--es... And can you give us some insight into the thinking behind the selection of the latest England squad?

    GP: Thinking? What's that?

    Interviewer: Well, let me put it another way; can you explain how you arrived at the make-up of the squad to play against South Africa?

    GP: Ah, yes... Well... Er... In a way it's not unlike being in the Cabinet.

    Interviewer: Really? In what way?

    GP: Well, We know what most people in the country want...

    Interviewer: To win Test Matches?

    GP: Yes... well, partly, but mostly, they want to be able to whinge and moan down at the pub or on internet blogs about how useless the selectors are...

    Interviewer: Ye-es... I see

    GP: And so, we give them the perfect opportunity...

    Interviewer: By selecting a team that nobody really wants?

    GP: Exactly...

    Interviewer: And how does that help England to win Test Matches?

    GP: Well, it doesn't...

    Interviewer: It doesn't?

    GP: No, no... You see, you have to be aware of the underlying need of the British public (and especially that portion of it that watches or comments on Test Cricket) to protest...

    Interviewer: To protest? About what?

    GP: Anything... I mean, it's all down to the demise of Robert Robinson...or Anne Robinson... well, one of the Robinsons...

    Interviewer: I'm sorry? What do you mean?

    GP: Well, in years gone by, when things weren't going well, people would write a nasty letter to 'Points of View'... But you can't do that now, because no-one writes letters any more... they just moan down the pub and on the internet...

    Interviewer: I see... so the Selectors are actually fulfilling a deep need in the British Psyche?

    GP: Precisely. The need for people who know nothing about a subject to make loud protests about what a terrible mess 'they' are making of it...

    Interviewer: 'They' being...?

    GP: Well, whoever is in charge. In this case the Selectors... but it could be anyone in authority... the government, the police, the schools, the health service... and it's even better now, because thanks to the internet, people from other countries can moan, too...

    Interviewer: Ye-es...

    GP: And they know even less about the England cricket team than the British people who moan about it... and the selectors are the ones who take the flak...

    Interviewer: I see, so being a selector IS just like being in the Cabinet, then...?

    GP: Yes, exactly...

    Interviewer: George Parr, thank you very much...

    GP: It's a pleasure...

    (with apologies to John Bird and John Fortune)

  • Comment number 76.

    I think Broad is being harshly judged. In the last test he scored 84 runs and took a key wicket in De Villiers (Ok he was on 174 but still). All the best to Collingwood but I can't see him making a better contribution than that.

    On his bowling his return in the 1st innings at Lords of 2/88 was a little expensive but respectable. He was fruitless in the second innings but in fairness all the bowlers struggled.

    The only stand out bad bowling performance was in the last test but when was the last time England dropped anybody for two poor innings especially as he contributed with his batting.

    Clearly the selectors have gone wobbly after dropping Collingwood and Broad was the only one available to drop in their eyes.

    Two other points if I may.

    1) When will the ECB sort out the groundsmen to produce wickets that are more conducive to England winning a test match instead of trying to guarantee 5 days pay for the counties. Ie a spinning wicket.

    2) Given Collingwood's natural fielding ability has anyone thought of turning him into a wicketkeeper? Two birds/one stone!

  • Comment number 77.

    #73 clearly didn't see any of the India or Sri Lanka test series. Sidebottom was head and shoulders above the other bowlers and would have taken far more wickets had he not had so many catches dropped from his bowling behind the wicket.

    These dropped catches were what saw Prior off.

  • Comment number 78.

    Key c
    Prior +

    And time to end this eighteenth century tradition of selction by committee. Give the coach all the power and let him live or die by his decisions. At least then there should be clear direction and we'll know who really choose the players.

    Reverting to a four man attack smacks of a defensive team selection although it seems that the weather could decide this test. England have to choose five bowlers for the Oval.

  • Comment number 79.

    Robert Key has not played a test match since January 21st can he come in and captain the team!!!!!

  • Comment number 80.

    bob roth #70, you need to wake up and smell the mellow birds my friend. Slowly take off the vaughan tinted spectacles and see for yourself that he is a liability in the field, a ball chasing captain who's field placings are always a case of "after the horse has bolted" and most importantly his batting performances are poor to say the least.
    You raise a query about Alastair Cook and I agree his actual form is poor and you can quote him on that too but he is able to grind scores out and sell his wicket very dearly.
    Does Vaughan do this , does he heck ? He misses straight balls from Steyn early on !!!
    Vaughan has previously done a decent job I agree but the foundations were already laid by Hussain and Fletcher. The next England captain (hopefully Key) will almost have to start all over again.
    The sooner the later as far as I am concerned.

  • Comment number 81.

    it would seem that Panesar is an automatic choice now. However he does seem to lack variety and struggles against left handers. I would like o see England experiment with an off-pinner such as Swann who can also bat and would not weaken the tail. also the South Africans love playing against pace bowling as that is all they get in RSA. Instead of high pace we need to find some variety and Jones with his reverse variations might be a beter option than Harmison. As for the batting we need to find some batsmen who don't give their wickets away like the current team and who would be content to leave the ball occasionally rather than flashing at the ball.

  • Comment number 82.


    Dropped catches affect every bowler in the team. A single bowler may have his statistics hampered by bad luck over the course of a match, or, at a stretch, a series, but statistically speaking these things average themselves out over a longer period.

    This cannot be used as an excuse for Sidebottom's ineffectiveness against good batsmen.

  • Comment number 83.

    Lucas - I am sure that Sangakkarra, Jayasuriya, Vandort and Tharanga will be thrilled to be referred, indirectly, as not very good batsmen, being as they were all dismissed by him.

  • Comment number 84.

    @ 75

    Clever - but, sadly, too near to the truth to be completely funny!

  • Comment number 85.

    Clearly what is needed is a fresh set of selectors: This lot are clueless.

    Not just any one-eyed cricket supporter, but every team he plays against can see that Vaughan hasn't merited a place in the England team for years. If he wasn't captain, he wouldn't be considered as a batsman and as captains lead by example, he's redundant: What has Vaughan got on the selectors that makes his position bombproof?

    As for the Collingwood debacle, he's got England out of so many scrapes down the years, you'd think his position should at least be as garanteed as Vaughan's, but no.

    In the first test he was given 'out' for 7 to the worst decision of the season so far and wasn't required to bat in the second innings. So on what grounds was he dropped for the second test? Furthermore, on what grounds was he re-selected for the coming 3rd Test?

    The Pattinson nonsense has been worked to death on other blogs, but Broad is another player whose place should be guaranteed - as a number six BATSMAN who bowls occasionally. In the future, he may well develop some guile and craft as a pace bowler, but he's the missing link at 6 that England have been short of for years.

    So, for pity's sake selectors, fall on your sword. Hanging around without dignity just isn't cricket.

  • Comment number 86.

    I think people need to put the whole Vaughan issue into perspective. First every game he doesn't score 50+ each innings people come out and say he is past it and shoudl be dropped, despite the fact that generally the rest of the batsmen have done as badly if not worse. In the recent NZ series he basically single handedly won us one game, KP won us the other and the other was a team performance. So as recently as 5 matches ago he pretty much dragged England to victory. At the time, all the comentators, including Aggers were saying he was "back to his best" and that it was a "true captains innings"

    What has changed?

    South Africa turned up. A team that most people thought would thrash Enland 4-0 are currently 1-0 up with 2 to play, this is not the end of the world, this is where the Great players step up and the good/average get left behind!

  • Comment number 87.

    Just read 'Heirs to Stewart's Throne' via the link in Athers blog. It's is time you got Foster's stats. up to date! From Essex CCC
    web site
    One day stats

    129 matches
    100 innings
    26 not out
    1781 runs
    69* not out higest score
    24.06 average
    155 catches
    37 stumpings

    Now compare these with the rest!

  • Comment number 88.

    Has the world ended? From my understanding, England have lost ONE test match. Yet the selectors need to be sacked, the captain needs to be sacked, the team needs an overhaul.............. blah blah blah.

    Get the balance right folks, and stop those knees jerking.

  • Comment number 89.

    Earlier on today saw Vaughan, Strauss and Collingwood all wandering round Birmingham relaxed and joking. Boys club = yes. Maybe practising = Yes. Taking it seriously - No

  • Comment number 90.

    captain vaughn said this morning in a 5 live interview harmison is bowling brilliant,
    if that is the case why is he not included.
    what the hell is collingwood doing back,
    and why bat ambrose at 8, hes struggling at 6 and 7 and still the man in super form
    matt prior is not even looked at.
    we are one down and we want to square the series surely we must play the best.
    i think the entire selectors and their policy must be under serious question.

  • Comment number 91.

    I don't understand why Collingwood, or any player picked as an all rounder, doesn't bowl more. They always used to.

    Line and length medium pace to tie up one end.

    Or is this just unfashionable?

    Collingwood should bat, bowl and field at gully, otherwise someone else shoud get his spot.

  • Comment number 92.

    Smudger - Amazing what you can deduce from seeing people in the street! What should they be doing? Practising for 12 hours? Or not laughing? Or sat in their hotel room? Can you not laugh and take things seriously? Or should the players be kept separate - not mix together?

    Next time you laugh at work, your boss can think the same I assume.

  • Comment number 93.

    "Vaughan hasn't merited a place in the England team for years."

    Is that right? at what point did he become redundant in your eyes?

    Years would suggest a long time would it not? Lets have a look back.

    Summer 2007- First summer back after long injury, still scored two 100s.
    Winter 05-07- Out of the team injured.
    Summer 2005- Reckon it could have been time for Vaughan to go here, he only captained us to our first Ashes victory in 21 years and scored the highest individual score of the summer.
    Winter 04-05 - I seem to remember we won away in South Africa during this winter? A pretty decent achievement?
    Summer 04- Led England to seven test victories, something we haven't done in yonks and scored two hundreds in a test v WI.
    Winter 04- Captained England to first test series win in WI in years and years- also scored century.
    Winter 03- Oh no. We lost a 3 test series 1-0 away in Sri Lanka in his first tour as captain. Sack him!!!
    Summer 03- Captained England to a 2-2 draw against South Africa coming back from the dead in his first series.
    Winter 02-03- Pretty average tour of Australia! Just the 633 runs.
    Summer 02- Admittedly disappointing summer. Only notched 900 runs!!

    So to say he has not warranted a place in years is frankly a disgrace.

  • Comment number 94.

    Why do people keep prattling on about Harmison and "oh why has he been left out?!!?!?!?" when he's done nothing in recent Tests and his record against South Africa is ropey to say the least.

    And I can't believe anyone would pick Harmison ahead of Sidebottom, I'd pick even Tremlett ahead of Sidebottom.

    Harmison vs Sidebottom - Last 10 Tests

    Harmison - 28 wkts @ 41.54
    Sidebottom - 49 wkts @ 23.73

    Harmison vs Sidebottom - Overall

    Harmison - 212 wkts @ 31.39
    Sidebottom - 73 wkts @ 25.27

    Harmison vs South Africa

    Home : 9 wkts @ 45.89 (SR 86.22, ER 3.19)
    Away : 9 wkts @ 73.22 (SR 127.22, ER 3.45)

    Some have noticed he's more effective at home, shame they didn't notice he's mainly more effective against ordinary opposition :-

    Harmison - Home Tests

    NZE/BAN/ZIM/WIN : 73 wkts @ 25.52 (SR 46.34, ER 3.30)
    AUS/SAF/PAK/IND : 51 wkts @ 31.84 (SR 57.76, ER 3.31)

    So should we take his recent form, form against South Africa (home, away or both) or are we going to ask South Africa to bat like New Zealand, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe or West Indies to make Harmison look good?!?!?!?!? I'm afraid England had to make a selection mistake in picking him before making the right one and leaving him out.

    The only comparison that Harmison would win over Sidebottom is :

    After 17 Tests

    Harmison - 72 wkts @ 24.43
    Sidebottom - 73 wkts @ 25.27

    But mainly because he'd picked up 5/35, 4/44, 2/22, 4/55, 1/36 and 2/35 vs Zimbabwe and Bangladesh (18 wkts @ 12.61) Take the first 17 Tests Harmison played excluding ZIM/BAN and he took 69 wkts @ 28.17

    Anyway, England have won 20 Tests since 2000 using four bowlers and only 28 Tests in the same period using five bowlers, despite 61% of England Tests featuring five bowlers. While five bowlers have been much more effective winning Tests home than away (19 wins in 33 home Tests vs 9 in 35 away using five bowlers), England lose less playing with four bowlers (23.3% vs 33.8%) and look a much better side without losing that much penetration bowling. It's a popular myth that including more bowlers means you are more likely to take 20 wickets in a Test, it failed last Test and it failed bigtime down under - eight times out of eight England have lost a Test down under since 2000 using this half-baked theory of 'needing' five bowlers.

    West Indies used four bowlers, Australia used and still use four bowlers, but apparently England need five - go figure!

  • Comment number 95.

    I hope it rains. Otherwise Flintoff will over do his ankle. Vaughan has to go he is past it just hanging on.
    I understand from comments hear that Broad is playing for his county tomorrow. He more than justified his place in the England team. Of course Michael Vaughan wants hismate Collingwood back so he looks slightly better than he is.
    I can see no justification for playing Vaughan or Collingwood other than jobs for the boys. This is not a knee jerk reaction.
    Just a reaction to a long spell of bad play by both players.
    You are supposed to be good to play for England in any sport. Not take a year to get there. Both must go back to county cricket for the rest of the summer.
    Vaughan must know its time to go.
    Five bowler to protect Freddie until his ankle is proven means it should have been another bowler for a man who is out of form altogether Collinwood.
    If Sidebottoms side goes and Freddies ankle goes where are England then. Vaughan out, selectors out Collinwood out.
    I do not think this is knee jerk given what has happened this year

  • Comment number 96.

    Bobroth asks how Key can come into the side and as captain. The answer is simple

    Key is batting well.
    Key is a good leader and team mates respond to him.
    Key is in form and confident.

    Aggers is right, Vaughan is doing nothing, his leadership so badly exposed in the second test is non-existent, his form wouldn't get him ito Yorkshire's second team. He is a walking dolly wicket for any bowler capable of bowling an adequate length. His actions when criticising Flintoff forced Boycott to crucify him in Public and Vaughamn himself to make a grovelling humiliating public apology.

    The Yorkshire team are better without him let alone England.

    Key should be in, Vaughan should be out


  • Comment number 97.

    A 4-man bowling attack may be OK against weaker opponents, but it is going to destroy our bowlers if the SAs bat out days like we know they can.
    Tired bowlers do not get wickets!
    If our batsmen are sruggling we need 2 all-rounders. We cannot afford the luxury of adding another batsman, if it means we are down to 4 bowlers. We may score more runs, but not bowl them out.
    Broad should have been in to help share the batting and bowling workload.
    If we need to shore up the batsmen another look at the wicketkeeper is also required.

  • Comment number 98.

    I agree with you, Aggers. But I don't think you should judge Vaughan - or, indeed, his potential replacements - primarily on batting form. Right now, he is the brightest mind on the field, regardless of results which are often down to individual failures. Australia's captains have never been great batsmen - they display brilliant tactical nous as well as the ability to produce magnificent defensive efforts with the bat when the team - not them - is under pressure. We need more of that from Vaughan but, frankly, I feel he is the one who will bring back the Ashes.

  • Comment number 99.

    Well raincheck, if you can't judge Vaughan on his batting form what on earth can you judge him on.

    His captaincy is dire beyond imagination and by your argument the current England Captain would be a non batting uninspirational complete passenger who should be put out if his misery so that we can be put out of ours.

    Get someone in who can bat, is in good form and who inspires confidence.

    A key appointment certainly


  • Comment number 100.

    Just read 'Heirs to Stewart's Throne' via the link in Agnew's blog. It's is time you got Foster's stats. up to date! From Essex CCC
    web site
    One day stats

    129 matches
    100 innings
    26 not out
    1781 runs
    69* not out higest score
    24.06 average
    155 catches
    37 stumpings

    Now compare these with the rest!


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