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Flintoff casts shadow on England

Jonathan Agnew | 15:52 UK time, Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The fact that Andrew Flintoff has played a central part in England's preparations here at Lord's has made it pretty clear that he will line up against South Africa in the second Test.

Before that, he will need to come through Lancashire's four-day match against Hampshire which starts on Friday, unscathed and I suppose a couple of failures with the bat could complicate matters.

But it is with the ball that England have missed Flintoff most, and now they believe that he is physically capable of playing in a four-man attack, he could bat as low as number eight if they want.

Andrew Flintoff is desperate to return to the England team

Ideally, we would want to see Flintoff batting at number six, with the wicketkeeper and four bowlers behind him - and I think that is what England are really hoping for, too. That means Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood will be feeling the heat again here.

Captain Michael Vaughan argues that to have fierce competition for places is a healthy state to be in, but I am not so sure. A batsman playing for his place can be a hideous spectacle as he clings to the crease, fearful of taking the slightest risk.

It only adds to the intrigue of the situation that Collingwood and Bell might well find themselves batting together at Lord's as they are currently numbers five and six in the order.

The bowlers will be feeling it, too, as Headingley, the venue for the second Test, is usually a ground requiring only a four-man attack. The most vulnerable are Stuart Broad and James Anderson, but if they both get among the wickets at Lord's, the selectors will again face a very awkward decision.

After 19 consecutive international matches against New Zealand it will be nice to see some new faces out in the middle, and I expect this to be a confrontational and hard-fought series.

Two key participants, South Africa captain Graeme Smith and England's Kevin Pietersen are highly combative characters with an obvious dislike for one another.

Pietersen has yet to face his old countrymen in a Test match and with, possibly, five pacemen at his disposal; Smith will make sure that Pietersen's opening encounter is a torrid one.

South Africa certainly start the series as favourites, but they do have weaknesses, notably their ability to play the swinging ball and, traditionally, a poor technique against spin bowling. Indeed, if the remainder of the summer is dry, Monty Panesar could be the difference between the two teams.


  • Comment number 1.

    Would it not be a good idea for England to try and build on a winning side by making it stronger ?
    It is so easy to just keep the same side and Geoff Miller's term has come up with no changes at any time.
    Surely either Bell or Collingwood, or both, should have been left out and possibly Shah brought in. There is even a case for Bopara to come in as well.
    As for the bowling, do the selectors really believe that Anderson, Sidebottom and Broad are up to the task of dismissing a far superior batting line up to NZ twice ?
    It seems that Geoff Miller has gone down the same old line that David Graveney did by deciding that he will ignore all the opinions of former players and continue to pick players regardless of form.
    As ever with the England set up, it's harder to get out of it than to get in.

  • Comment number 2.

    It is interesting that Aggers points to Monty as a potential series winner - the South Africans will be gutted that they haven't been able to get a decent spinner on their teamsheet for some time - I think that the series will be decided on the amount of runs England are able to put on the board. Remember the mess the Africans made of our attack last time? Nasser resigned, Dazzler retired and Jimmy got a pasting - im sure they will score plenty of runs in at least two, maybe three of their first innings. Whether England can counter this im not sure, but i think a huge amount of it depends on MPV leading from the front.

  • Comment number 3.

    The Flintoff 'factor' apart I reckon England's current bowlers might feel more threateed by the return to form and fitness of Simon Jones. His pace and accuracy match Freddie's and his ability to move the ball both ways make him a threat at any stage in an innings. Maybe the second test match will see both Flintoff and Jones in the starting line up. I don't think that possiblity will comfort the South African batsmen much.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm really looking forward to this series, I dont know why but this one has always been my favourite since i was 11 when we beat them in 98.

    On paper and on the recent SA-Eng series you'd have to say 2-1 to SA is likely, or even better for them, but surely if we can return to the fluent and consistent batting of 2004-2005 then we have a really good chance because it's not necessarily our bowling that is the real problem. Let's all hope Vaughan can get back to some of those massive 150s he used to get, lig_cuttah is so right, he is crucial. Our bowlers, if on song, will cause problems for their batsman but our top 6 are gonna have to make sure their techniques hold up against ferocious pace and that Morkel's bounce!

  • Comment number 5.

    sirviv asks: "As for the bowling, do the selectors really believe that Anderson, Sidebottom and Broad are up to the task of dismissing a far superior batting line up to NZ twice ?"

    Well, yes, otherwise they wouldn't have been selected along with Panesar.

    The selectors likely also believe that Vaughan, Strauss, Cook, Bell, Pietersen, and Collingwood, with a little assistance perhaps from Ambrose, will be able to score a lot of runs against the SA bowling attack in their turn.

    But I doubt it'll stop a load of folks saying "Here's my team against the saffers..." and listing players that haven't been selected either for the team or the squad and probably never will be.

    What I do find a tad disconcerting is the apparent level of 'hope' invested in a player who's been off sick for the best part of 18 months and hasn't played a test match since January last year (and wasn't doing particularly well with bat or ball back then). It's as though, in the absence of any truly great players in the team, we spectators are obliged to acribe fantastic powers to those that haven't actually been playing for the last year or more. Freddie will save us! I keep getting visions of El Cid being nailed to the saddle of his horse and riding out to rout the enemy in spite of his being dead already.

    Mind you, if the weather continues like this, Flintoff's experience with small watercraft might come in handy at Lords.

  • Comment number 6.

    They way cricket goes it must be worth a few quid on Bell or Collingwood to top score for England!

  • Comment number 7.

    Why would Flintoff ideally bat at 6 ? He hasn't scored a run in ages and in my opinion he should be picked as a bowler who can bat a bit and bat at 8. England can then pick 6 batsmen , Ambrose at 7 , Flintoff 8, Broad 9, Sidebottom and Monty. This still gives us the balance needed and means that we don;t come "hopping out with big ears" from 9 onwards. Forget about him as a batter, he's not a number 6.

  • Comment number 8.

    Professional batsmen playing for their careers and place in the team really shouldn't "cling to the crease, fearful of taking the slightest risk". Forgive me for using the words "would an Australian..." in sequence, but would an Australian batsman under pressure scratch around nervously when he's under pressure?

    Good to have Tuffers back. He makes TMS better than ever, and is worth the licence fee alone.

  • Comment number 9.

    One could say that Flintoff should bat at 6 when he hasnt got many runs on the basis that Collingwood and Bell havent got any runs in the last 6 innings either. Flintoff offers more with the ball and is just as much a risk batting at 6 than Colly and Bell.

    Ideally I'd like to see both those out (given that Harmison and Hoggard were axed when their form suffered), and bring in Flintoff and Shah.

    Also Simon Jones should get a look in if any of the bowlers significantly fail this time around.

    Should be a good one tomorrow - can't wait!

  • Comment number 10.

    If any of the bowlers have to give way for Freddie's return I'd say at the moment it has to be Broad. Sidebottom took 41 wickets in the 6 tests against NZ whilst Anderson took a healthy 27 in 5 matches including 19 in the last 3 tests back in England. Broad took 15 in the 5 tests he played.

    I appreciate that Broad has been impressive with the bat but if you are going to play a 4 man attack then in has to be all about the ability to take wickets, Flintoff gets in on his bowling merit alone as lets be honest, when is the last time he did anything with a bat in his hand for England?

    However, the fact that Freddie is coming back from injury and therefore cant be over-used I would think it makes sense to keep the current four bowlers in and bat Fredddie 6. Therefore it looks likely that either Bell or Collingwood needs to make way for his return, as both are in terrrible form. however, bell looked the better of the two in the ODI series and I believe has the greater ability. It could come down to which of the two get a score in the first test. Indeed, if they both fail then they could both be out with Shah coming in as well. Therefore my team for the 2nd test (injuries permitting) would be:

    Ambrose (if you're really worried about the depth of the batting maybe you bring Prior back and except he is occasionally liable with the gloves)

  • Comment number 11.

    If the weather co-operates ,South Africa win 3-0.
    If not ,4-0.

  • Comment number 12.

    Beating this England side on home soil will not be easy. In spinner Monty Panesar England has a match-winner of true merit. England looks capable of taming the South Africans. Best wishes to the two sides in the coming weeks.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 13.

    The way England go about matches is that they expect swing and want swing. They should prepare without swing then they will be better bowlers. Also the batting is weak. Need Hundred + players

  • Comment number 14.

    I think Colly will somehow keep his place despite his performances and Flintoff will replace Broad at no.8 as the 4th bowler who bats. The selectors are crazily reluctant to change the batting order despite often being the weak link which have resulted in us losing games for the last few years.

  • Comment number 15.

    Flintoff has shown that he might be returning to some form, adn with what he can do witht the ball it seems incredible that Engladn want to use him in the nets but wont use him in the middle where it matters.

    Collingwood has had a decent run but needs to be dropped now, leave Bell in for the series and see what he can do against a good pace attack, if he fails to inspire then seek a replacement.

    England lack pace in there bowling attack and so should bring back the in form duo of Steve Harmison and Simon Jones, both have taken wickets this season and a re bowling well, Harmison is even playin one day cricket.

    My Test team for the Second Test (in batting line up)

    S Jones

  • Comment number 16.

    Personally I dont think Flintoff can play for England at the moment.

    Firstly he simply isnt good enough to bat at 6, his record for the last couple of years does not even nearly warrant him inclusion in a test match batting anywhere near as high as 6, simple as that. There is no question mark over his bowling (and his fielding for that matter) but he over the past couple of years has not been an all arounder, he has simply been a bowler who can bat.

    There is no doubt if it was down to ability alone he would walk into the team purely as a bowler - that in my eyes there is no qusestion mark over. However you cant ignore his injury record. In my opinion he simply cant be trusted to play as one of just 4 bowlers. He breaks down far, far too often and it always seems to be with new injurues, ie his new injury was a side strain. His injury record means you can not take a gamble playing him as just one of 4 bowlers. Imagine if he broke down playing for England playing as a bowler - then you'd be left with one spinner (Monty) and only two genuine seamers Sidebottom and Anderson/Broad.... with Collingwood having to fill in.

    To summarise, due to his injury record I believe he unfortunately can not be trust to play as a bowler and due to his terrible batting of recent times he cant be trusted to play as an all rounder at 6.

    Harsh but test cricket is a harsh arena and given Flintoffs record I believe you cant take the gamble.

  • Comment number 17.

    Collingwood needs to go. He's lost his international talent. He needs to be sent back to club cricket for a while so he can get his form back.

    But I also think that Flintoff isn't ready to come back into the England line up.

    My team for now would be:


  • Comment number 18.

    It is true that Andrew Flintoff has not been able to buy a run most of the summer and looked to be set to bat no higher than 8. However, his last two innings have been pretty devastating 50s: in the last Championship game and in the T20 Quarter Final v Middlesex where he looked back to his best and produced some quite outrageous hitting. Whatever else you might say about him, that innings, made with Lancashire in some trouble, showed that there was not too much wrong with his eye or his confidence.

    It was always a maxim of Mike Brearley that if you can make a winning side stronger, you should do so, regardless of sentiment. Right now, Simon Jones, Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff are all making strong cases for selection. Harmison is close to being the top wicket-taker in the Championship, with his average well below 20 against strong batting sides. Jones has an average of around 12(!!) and quite phenomenal strike rate. And Andrew Flintoff's figures are not too shabby either, despite going wicketless in his last match.

    Behind them, Matthew Hoggard, Liam Plunkett and Sajid Mahmood have all started to show some form, although it is true that Sajid's wickets are coming at more than double the average of Jones and nearly double that of Harmison. All in all the strength in depth in bowling looks pretty healthy right now. Just as well because I have a nasty feeling that the current attack is going to find Smith, Kallis, Amla and Prince a somewhat more challenging (and chasening) experience than the card house that was the New Zealand top 5.

    As for the batting, let's wait and see. Class batsmen have to make runs under pressure. If they can't, then we need to play someone who can. Paul Collingwood was very lucky to see out the New Zealand series, he now needs to step up and get runs against a better attack. He is tough, he is a fighter and the side is going to be better for having someone like him on form, rather than a show pony who will make a flashy 20 and then get out. This is going to be a series for tough players.

  • Comment number 19.

    flintoffs return, for me has to be in place of a bowler, we simply dont need an extra one so should protect the batting line up

    simon jones is a must if he's fit and as a master of swing needs to replace a likewise bowler

    i cannot see a reason why owais shah has been overlooked again

    both cook and strauss need good series strauss may have peformed against nz but they are a weak test side

    my side if all fit


    not an issue yet but if the wk is at 8 then we should be picking the best gloveman ie ambrose or foster or read. at 7 the emphasis should be on batting ie prior or mustard

  • Comment number 20.

    We appear to have picked an unchanged team purely to get in the record books and not beacause its a solid successful unit. The batting line up is still frail and prone to collapse and the bowling can be improved by Flintoff, Jones and possibly Hoggard.
    Hope this first test is a good contest and not a lesson in not picking the strongest in form players for the sake of poxy records.

  • Comment number 21.

    Shah has not made big runs regularly in a pressure situation for Middlesex either last season or this. All too often he has fallen cheaply in the first innings as Middlesex has collapsed (e.g. Middlesex's last match v Northants). When he has made runs it has all too often been against a weak attack - something that there is no shortage of in Division 2 - on a flat pitch. If it were anyone else people would be positively furious that he is even being considered. Shah has abundant talent, but needs to get big runs when they matter and make a real case for selection rather than this selection by default because no one has noticed that he is not really performing consistently and think that he would do much better against a far stronger attack.

  • Comment number 22.

    England really do look light in the bowling department to my mind - unless conditions happen to work in our favour and help to bring Monty to the fore.

    The addition of an in form Flintoff would certainly be a bonus, but can he really fulfil the no. 6 role these days - it is hard to imagine somehow. So, we are then back to the drawing board trying to find a fifth bowler without lengthening the tail. A few overs from Bopara or Collingwood doesn't really seem to be the answer.

    If Simon Jones could stay fit until tea-time then he would certainly be another pace option, but 18 tests over a 10 year career hardly fills me with optimism that he will ever lose that sicknote tag. If he adds another half dozen tests to his name before he retires I would be pleasantly surprised.

    All told, I find it hard to see where 20 SA wickets are going to come from.

    You can call me Mr Sunshine.......

  • Comment number 23.

    no 9 point is right - bell and (especially) colly have done so badly that flintoff is not a higher risk at 6. Those who say he's not scoring runs are not entirely correct - he has just hit two fifties and is on the up with the bat finally. As for the bowling - yes there are concerns but the unit have done well enough to warrant another chance - Jones may yet force a way in mid series though - especially as part of a five man attack - but you would not want 5 bowlers and no number 8 which means Broad needs to continue playing

  • Comment number 24.

    If conditions are good for swing bowling then England have a chance of winning the series but only if the batsmen perform.

    South Africa's bowling attack is exciting and whilst it's not up to the standards of the West Indies' pace machine, Ntini is a known competitor and Steyn and Morkel are fast. How long has it been since English batsmen were up against a pair of class fast bowlers? I'm looking forward to seeing it!

    Why are people still raving about the Ashes bowling attack? That was 2005, this is 2008. The vastly underrated and worthy Ashley Giles has retired, Harmison seems shot to me (Remember he admitted to being "scared" of playing internationally) and Jones and Flintoff are coming back from injuries. Hoggard got dropped along with Harmison but of the two I think he will be back.

    The reports of Jones and Flintoff's performances are promising but let's not rush them back into test cricket before they are ready, physically and mentally. Yes, Flintoff is a talisman, a uniting figure. Yes, Jones can reverse swing the ball at pace. No, we don't want to see them hobbling off the ground.

    Cricketing_stargazer's point is an excellent one: This is going to be a series for tough players.

    South Africa to win 2-1.

  • Comment number 25.

    It is interesting to see people arguing on the one hand that the selection is cozy and repetitative, but on the other that we should ignore class bowlers simply because they have the ignominy of having been in the 2005 side.

    Just 15 bowlers have 25 or more first class wickets this season:

    2nd, Jimmy Anderson, 34 wickets @ 15.4, strike rate 31

    6th, Steve Harmison, 30 wickets @ 22.7. strike rate 46

    11th, Ryan Sidebottom, 27 wickets @ 20.6, strike rate 48

    13th, Simon Jones, 26 wickets @ 12.5, strike rate 22

    In List A matches only 7 bowlers have 15 or more wickets:

    2nd Steve Harmison, 20 @ 19.1, strike rate 25

    No other England bowler or candidate has more than 10. The next best candidate is Simon Jones with 9 (32nd)

    You have to conclude that Harmison and Jones are in pretty good knick, while Jimmy Anderson's returns this season are quite astonishing in just 6 first class matches.

  • Comment number 26.

    For some reason I feel that the fact that SA will be tougher opponents may inspire England, and they might really get stuck in to SA. Sometimes a rather lacklustre series against relatively weak opposition is followed by a much more impressive one against tougher opposition.

    However, if England lose this test by a big margin, and shift the momentum straight to SA, all the preparation with the consistent selection policy will have been wasted. Then they will really need to take a chance on another batsmen in the upper order. Not claiming to be the saviour, but I would suggest get Rob Key back at #3. I agree with sticking with the same bowling attack, but if they don't take wickets then Flintoff has to come back. Hence, for the 2nd Test...


    This would mean Stuart Broad taking the new ball, but I think that's worth trying. I have taken Collingwood and Anderson on the assumption that they might be the ones who don't perform, although this may well not be the case.

    Hopefully though, England will make a good fist of it, and Flintoff will have to fight to get back in rather than walk back in.

  • Comment number 27.

    PS - Just noticed Jimmy Anderson's stats on the above post. Very impressive. Let's hope he continues his good form into this series.

  • Comment number 28.

    With so few words at your disposal. Aggers, I think you gave us an excellent summary of the issues involved in the first test and later ones, and whetted our appetite for what should be an excellent contest.

    I think we would all be delighted to see Freddie back in the team, even he has to bat way down the order. If fit, he can be one of the most devastating bowlers in the world.

    I would also like to see Simon Jones back in the team. He has something quite different to offer from the other bowlers, but should only come in on pitches which offer help to swing bowlers, because that is his forte. Lords is a wicket for true pace bowlers and I am not sure that we have the bowlers for that, although nagging accuracy such as McGrath achieved should be able to able to winkle out the SA batsmen.

    If it is a good wicket for batting and any of Bell, Collingwood, Strauss, Cook or even Vaughan fail in both innings, then their places should be up for grabs. There are lots of alternatives and it is necesary to be a bit more impatient to see results.

  • Comment number 29.

    One thing that no-one has even hinted at is to drop the spinner and play another seamer its rained for what seams the last 2 years in britain lords will be green and the outfield pretty lush the ball will swing conventionally for 30 overs plus! Either bring back flintoff at 8 where we all know he is lethal when left with the tail because he will play his most naturaul attacking game! He isnt much better than that or bring back hoggard who gave smith and co a torrid time in SA back in 2005! Smith must be sleeping nicely in his hotel bed knowing hoggard is not around! There is absolutely no reason to drop any of the batters because no one has really hit big county runs and said give me that chance other than say ramps over the last 2 years but he is not an option! Shah and bopara had a perfect chance to oust the test guys with good performances in the odis no-one did enough-bopara shouldnt even be around the england set up his stats are appalling averages 8 in 5 test innings and 27 in 26 odis with a top score of 58 score as many double hundreds for your county but you have to perform for your country when you get a chance! Simon Jones is banging the door down for a recall a few bad performances or an injury to someone he should play!

  • Comment number 30.

    Whilst Freddie has to be back in the side, no question about that, my concern is him coming in for a batsman. As we haven't made 400 in so many innings, why would bring Fred in increase our chances with that? He appears to have gone from a genuine world class all rounder to a bowler who can back / slog a bit.

    I agree with some of the comments above re simon Jones. As a worcs fan, he has been superb and his stats say incredible things about his progress since his move. Difficulty is where we'd slot him in.

    I think this is also a big series for Ambrose, so far I have been very unimpressed with his batting and keeping. Yes, he can put away a short wide one, but I think these SA bowlers may well find him out. (next one in Kieswetter or foster)

    Bell / Colly
    Anderson / Broad

  • Comment number 31.

    Flintoff can't bat at six, justifying it by comparing recent form of Bell and Collingwood to suggest we'd lose nothing is nonsense since we want to strengthen the BATTING position not continue with the current lack of runs.

    A couple of fifties in county cricket doesn't mean a lot either, even tailenders hit fifties in county cricket and Read plunders plenty of runs at that level. What we need is the top six to contribute 100s, something they're not doing and something Flintoff hasn't done that often.

    Current England Players 100s*

    16.44% Pietersen - 73 inns, 12x100
    13.19% Strauss - 91 inns, 13x100
    12.73% Cook - 55 inns, 7x100
    12.68% Vaughan - 142 inns, 18x100
    11.11% Ambrose - 9 inns, 1x100
    10.00% Bell - 70 inns, 7 x100
    7.46% Collingwood - 67 inns, 5x100
    5.88% Prior - 17 inns, 1x100
    4.55% Flintoff - 110 inns, 5x100
    1.89% Jones - 53 inns, 1x100

    *played in the last two years, have to have scored a 100 to be included

    What do other Test nations do?

    Symonds (AUS) - 5.88% (34 inns, 2x100) Ave 44.66
    De Villiers (SAF) - 7.04% (71 inns, 5x100) Ave 39.55
    Dilshan (SRI) - 5.63% (71 inns, 4x100) Ave 37.25
    Yuvraj Singh (IND) - 8.33% (36 inns, 3x100) Ave 32.81
    Bravo (WIN) - 3.51% (57 inns, 2x100) Ave 32.73
    Flynn (NZE) - 0.00% (5 inns, 0x100) Ave 30.33
    Faisal Iqbal (PAK) - 2.70% (37 inns, 1x100) Ave 25.63

    Well that makes Flintoff's batting record look reasonable, a few have better averages but not many score 100s that frequently. However those side mostly have better balance. West Indies and New Zealand aren't great inclusions in the comparison as their batting isn't the most solid by which to set a benchmark.

  • Comment number 32.

    Can't agree about Panesar. Doubt he will survive past Lords. With Jones and Flintoff pushing to come, somebody has to go. Panesar still isn't convincing as a test cricketer. He's dead weight in the field, has no batting ability and his bowling has not advanced since he's been a regular test player.

    A bad defeat in front of the MCC members at Lords will shake the selectors out of their stupor. The chances of a 7th consecutive unchanged side are very slim.

    Afterthought: Why are Jones and Flintoff not actually playing here, if they can play for their counties?????

  • Comment number 33.

    Flintoff cannot possibly be regarded as a threat to Bell or Collingwood! He simply isn't scoring enough runs to be picked as an all-rounder.

    If he's fit enough not to break down again then he is a threat to Anderson and Broad and should only be picked on the strength of his bowling. If he gets some runs we could think about dropping a batman and sticking him in at number 6 again, opening the door for a 5th bowler.

    The changes i would make would be Anderson out for Jones and Broad out(although i like him as a player and he will be important in the future) Flintoff in.

    If Anderson has one of his bad days the current bowling attack is going to go for a lot of runs.

  • Comment number 34.

    I think that Freddie is most likely to come in for Jimmy A. Prediction is that Jimmy was expensive against NZ (3.6/over) with probably only really good spell (2nd Inns at TB) in which he kept runs down and also took wickets. Given that the SA batting is much stronger than that of NZ, I can see him getting battered without as many 'gift' wickets. Pressure on batsmen will be key in this series, and Jimmy doesn't apply pressure as he always gives them a 'buffet ball' every over.

    Also, given Englands batting woes, I expect they will want to retain Bell and Collingwood (or swap one for Owais Shah) and bat Freddie and Ambrose at 7 and 8 (or vise versa) to give us some real depth with Broady in at 9 and Siders (whio can stick around) at 10. Bell hit 200+ in a county game so his 'form' is OK. Colly batted OK in the one dayers

  • Comment number 35.

    Chaps - I think we need to look at the top of the order.
    A right hand /left hand combo is ideal. Cookie is out of nick - a perfect time to bring in the best opener in the country - Keysy.

  • Comment number 36.

    Aggers - NO!!!
    Flintoff is not a test match number 6.
    he's barely a number 7.
    he's just not, ok?!?!

    please stop giving them ideas!

  • Comment number 37.

    Regarding bowlers, am I alone in thinking that the full dream team of Flintoff, Hoggard, Harmison and Jones should be reunited?
    After all, they are all fit and performing well, and they are the only ones that have actually done the job successfully against the best. Good though Broad and co are against average opposition, I can't help a feeling of doom and gloom about what awaits when they come up against a world class squad. What do you think?

  • Comment number 38.

    Right, start with the batsman. I believe an an ideal situation Collingwood and bell should be dropped, however there's no one who deserves a spot ahead of them. Bopara looks out of his depth at this level and Shah has not been scoring consistently in county cricket. There is a lack of quality batsman coming through the county ranks.

    For me Ambrose is not good enough, with gloves or with the bat. I believe prior was hard done to and would strengthen the batting line up, possibly at 6 and then we could play 5 bowlers.

    On the bowling front I think its fair enough this attack is given the opportunity after recent success against a poor New Zealand side. However I'm feeling very pessimistic about it considering the strength of south Africa's batting line up. I think wholesale changes should be made if we lose heavily at Lords. I would have Flintoff in for Collingwood batting at 7, if Jimmy doesn't perform then Simon Jones must be brought in for him (he is a class act and finding his best form again). Broad has shown promise as an all rounder, however is main job is taking wickets and if he fails to do so I still believe Harmison can perform at the top level after finding some form in county cricket.
    Regardless of the form of batsman, to win a test you need 20 wickets and I think we need a five man attack to do this.

    My team For the second test would be,


  • Comment number 39.

    i'd love to see this team play at some point.

    strauss c

    i'd also like to see Bell tried as an opener and Strauss (c) drop down to 3/4 but that's probably not going to happen.

    am i the only one who thought Vettori's captaincy made Vaughn look weak, unimaginative, insular and surly? i have always been a fan of his batting but since Fletcher's departure it really does seem like he's been going through the motions.

  • Comment number 40.

    "But I doubt it'll stop a load of folks saying "Here's my team against the saffers..." and listing players that haven't been selected either for the team or the squad and probably never will be."

    I rest my case.

  • Comment number 41.

    Thank you cricketstargazer. I cannot understand the continual put down of Jimmy Anderson and the obsession with young Broad.
    Jimmy is a wicket taker, he knocks over the top order, his wickets per test, strike rate, average, 5fers are all in the top draw. Broad may well have potential but, for goodness sake, Test Cricket is the highest level of the game, you don't put a youngster in the test team to learn his trade, you put him in to produce the results!To put it simply, Broad does not take wickets. Jimmy does.

  • Comment number 42.

    All this talk of Prior coming back in - James Foster is clearly the best keeper/batsman in the country so why does he keep getting ignored?

    Ambrose only has one shot - the no foot movement cut shot. Time to get Fozzy back in.

  • Comment number 43.

    Anderson should clearly be the man to miss out in Flintoff is brought ni.

    Sidebottom has proven himself capable against any opposition.

    Broad hasn't let anyone downt thus far adn deserves a chance against a better side to show his worth.

    Panesar is needed for the spin option.

    That leaves Anderson, who despite a good series against the Kiwis has been found out time and again against the better sides. Honestly he is the bowling equivalent of a Graeme Hick in that he fills his boots on bowler friendly pitches in swinging conditions to keep his averages respectible but fails to threaten in any other type of condition.

    If Jones was to come in as well then maybe Broad would move aside, though I would be more inclined to pick 5 bowlers initially if both Flintoff and Broad were to be two of them just in case. In that case it would be Collinwood to miss out. Bell offers more in the sense that he can plug a hole if needed in a tight match.

  • Comment number 44.

    haverjack says that Broad hasn't let anybody down! What a salute to mediocrity.
    He's played in 6 tests, against NZ and SL, taken 16 wickets, the most in any innings being 3 wickets. Why should you think that he will do better against better opposition?
    Anderson has played against all the test nations EXCEPT Bangaladesh. Against Zimbabwe, on his debut, Anderson took 5 wickets in 16 overs. In the same innings Harmison took 1 wicket, also in 16 overs.
    (Don't know that proves except that it is nonsense to talk of Anderson filling his boots against the lesser lights). Incidently in his first 6 tests Anderson took 25 wickets.
    Pity he was born in Burnley.

  • Comment number 45.

    Most would agree that Flintoff has probably been our best and most consistent bowler for some time now, but I dont see much point in rushing him back. I'd rather ensure he makes a full recovery and gets more county cricket under his belt - so that he can return, and REMAIN fit for the long term.

    I'm surprised though Aggers - that you question Vaughan's view of healthy competition in the side. I understand your point - but ultimately if a player can't deal with the pressure of competition from their peers, then they're hardly likely to be mentally strong enough to succeed at test cricket??

  • Comment number 46.

    309-3. I am waiting to read that we were awful and that the South African bowling is going to flatten us... If this is the way that Bell responds to pressure I'm all for him being put under pressure more often.


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