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How England can win the Ashes

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Tom Fordyce | 11:57 UK time, Monday, 10 August 2009

Will Andrew Strauss get his hands on the Ashes urn again?At least the scenario is a simple one. One Test to go, one victory needed. If England win at The Oval, the Ashes are theirs, no matter what horrors Headingley witnessed.

That's the easy bit. Rather more complicated is how exactly they do that. At least three of the top five batsmen are out of touch. The bowling attack was dismantled in Leeds. Australia, having struggled for much of the series, appear to have hit form at exactly the right time.

Lots of posts on these blogs over the past few days have called for substantial changes to the England side. Ravi Bopara has copped the most flak, followed closely by Ian Bell and Steve Harmison.

Calls have been made for the recall of 39-year-old Mark Ramprakash, despite the fact that he last played for England seven years ago and averaged a meagre 27 in over 50 Tests. Kent's Rob Key is another popular name, as is Warwickshire's Jonathan Trott.

But, as far as former England spinner Phil Tufnell and ex Aussie opener Matthew Hayden are concerned, that's not the way England will turn things around.

"I would say no to wholesale changes," says Tufnell. "We're one Test away from winning the Ashes. The boys have got us this far - okay, we've had a bad match, but crikey, we're playing against Australia, one of the best sides in the world. It's still 1-1.

"Hopefully Freddie Flintoff will be fit and come back into the side, but apart from that I would say, right guys - we've been together all the way through, let's put this defeat behind us - let's go out there and put it right. I'd stick with the guys.

"I would leave Bopara in. I'd say to him, we've given you the full lot, we all know you can play, this is your opportunity to right the wrongs. It's amazing sometimes how that confidence in someone can pay dividends."

Hayden, who has spent the summer as a summariser for Test Match Special, endured some rough times himself as an international batsman before finally cementing his place in the Australian line-up.

"You can't just go chopping and changing," he says. "If you make mass changes it can feel like panic, and you don't want that in any way - and do you want to do that in the last match of series when it's all on the line, because that bloke is then going to be under enormous pressure.

"Having been on the other side of fence, I can tell you that to have the lift of having a selector stick with you when you're having a bad time can do wonders for you. It's like the old adage says - form is temporary, class is permanent."

What about England's tactics at The Oval? For Tufnell, the defeat at Leeds doesn't necessarily change the way Andrew Strauss's men should approach the final Test.

"Funnily enough, it's not the end of the world needing to go for the win. In a way, knowing you have to go for the win is the best mindset you can have. If you were going there 1-0 up, wondering if you should play for a draw, that can affect you quite badly.

"The 10-day gap is critical. The team has to go away, sort out the niggles like James Anderson's hamstring, put their feet up and have a rest, and then start to get their minds ready for it all.

"This defeat all happened so quickly, and things can easily go a bit wayward in the aftermath. You need to get the coaches working, get the camaraderie going, get the buzz back, feel like you want to go out there.

"It's been a series between two very evenly-matched sides. We knew Australia were going to come back strongly; they got a bit of belief from the way it finished at Edgbaston, and for the first time, the bowlers have hit their straps.

"Cricket is all about momentum. There's a lot made of that word, but the Aussies have it at the moment. In Cardiff that last-wicket partnership got us out of a hole and we took that to Lord's, and we can get it back."

Hayden believes there will be two key factors for England: the fitness of the talismanic Flintoff, and the state of the Oval pitch.

"For the balance of the side, Fred will have to come back in. He was an enormous loss to England in Leeds, not dissimilar to when we lost Glenn McGrath in 2005.

"He'll have to come back into the side, and then my pick would be to bowl the left-arm and right-arm spinners.

"Australia will go with a quartet of fast bowlers. They'll look to find up and down movement as the pitch deteriorates and causes doubt and trouble for the batsmen.

"England don't want a pitch that has anything green about it. A good even one, quite a dry one - that allows the option of double spinners to come into play, which is why Monty Panesar might come into contention."

Headingley was about as depressing it could have been for England supporters. Despite that, the series is alive.

One game, one win. It's not a bad finale.


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  • Comment number 1.

    no, thats wrong. drop bopara bell onions, for key trott/ramps fred. simple. and you have a match winning team

    first post!

  • Comment number 2.

    England should at least give Bopara a chance and have hit bat at 4. I suppose that would mean bringing in Rob Key, but he has played Test cricket. Not the lithest in the field, but that's ok. No more Harmison, he's had his chances. Ramprakash? Please, just imagine the digs the Aussie fielders will get in about him being on a dancing show. Piling up runs against div 2 county cricket trundlers is hardly proper preparation for facing a Test attack. And why the calls to drop Broad after he just took six wickets and scored a fifty? If anything, he should come in at number 3.

    England have to pick a team to win. Might as well go with Siders for Harmison - what do they have to lose?

    Strauss, Cook, Key, Bopara, Colly, Flints (if he's unfit then they've lost anyway), Prior, Malfoy, Swann, Anderson, Sidebottom.

  • Comment number 3.

    Bopara is the only player that could be dropped out of the batsmen for Key/Trott. All this talk of Ramprakash is just that, talk. I would keep the team as it is apart from Freddie if he's fit. Give them a chance, it was a bad game yes but it's not the end of the series just yet.

    And BertisBigBanana, why the hell would you drop Onions? He has bowled consistently well all series.

  • Comment number 4.

    re 1

    totaly agree although i might keep onions and drop anderson as he is not fit but id drop bopara and bell without hesitation both are overated.

  • Comment number 5.

    The expectation heaped upon Bopara is ridiculous, but quintessentially English. He had a great series against a mediocre West Indies team, and is now having a poor series against a reasonable Australian one. He probably shouldn't be batting at 3, but it's still too early to make scathing judgements about him. More importantly, we have pretty much no idea how Trott or Key would do in his place.

    As for the possibility of recalling Ramprakash, it smacks of the short-termist selection desperation that plagued English cricket for so long. He played Test cricket for 11 years, never flourished, and suddenly a load of runs in county cricket make him the Ashes saviour. Hadn't Ian Bell been helping himself to championship bowling before replacing Pietersen? Has he looked like doing the same against Australia?

    If Flintoff is fit, he should replace Harmison, and that's that. Everything else would be a retrograde gamble of unknown proportions.

  • Comment number 6.

    I totally agree with Tuffers and Matthew Hayden...Don't make loads of changes to the England line-up at the Oval. Putting players like Ramprakash smacks desperation which the Aussies will feed off. If Ramprakash, Key or even Trott come in and fail we will have more sensationalist articles and comments saying how it was a stupid decision quite possibly by the same people who recommended them in the first place! I hope that they keep faith in Bopara and he and/or Bell hit a massive score at the Oval just to show that our middle order can infact score some runs! It might stop all these idiots going on about getting Trescothick out of retirement too.
    I know his 6 wickets in the Aussie 1st innings came too late but that coupled with his batting shows Broad should keep his place. Harmison underpeformed which wasn't really a surprise as Sidebottom should have been picked instead so if Flintoff is fit then I think Harmison will be the one to go rather than Onions. Yes England were awful at Headingley but England still have a good chance at winning the Ashes without resorting to desperate measures like recalling Mark Ramprakash!

  • Comment number 7.

    I actually dis-agree with Tuffers on this one, the Oval is basically now a cup-final scenario where we need to play our 11 best playes. This means, that, in my humble opinion, we need to drop Bopara, Bell and Harmison from the team played at Headingly. My team Would be:


  • Comment number 8.

    Wholesale changes are not needed but Collingwood has to go. I am fed up of hearing that he is a "fighter" or that he can be relied upon when the chips are down. When it comes down to it he has an average ,at most, county batter who admittedly is an excellent fielder and useful bowler. It seem these little add ons are what keeps him in the team when if purely judged on his output of runs he wouldn't get a sniff. I hate to say it but Johnathan Trott offers all three aspects of Collingwoods game and is the much better batter. Don't get me started on Ian Bell either. I would lose Bell and Collingwood for good and bring in Key and Trott on the basis that they will get a run in the side and not just for one test. Bowling wise , we will wait to see what the oval wicket brings but I would keep faith in what we had at Headingley. I do feel if it was horses for courses thought that Sidebottom should of played at Leeds and Harmison at the Oval.

  • Comment number 9.

    Everybody is talking about the failure of England's batsmen at Headingley. They had a bad day at the office - no doubt.
    I think it was madness to opt to bat on the first morning given that the team had been stood in the Leeds rain for an hour at 5am in the morning as a result of a fire alarm. A momentary lapse in concentration due to tiredness as a batsman could mean him losing his wicket, for a bowler it just means being hit for 4. I think that was very poor management and captaincy which, effectively, cost us the test match. From then on we were always fighting a losing battle and England have shown over the last few years that they do not have the right mentality to do that.

    That besides what should we do for the next test.

    We need to win, which means we need to take 20 wickets. Drawing the test is no good as we would still not regain the ashes. Therefore I think we should concentrate on getting the bowling team right and then chose the batsmen to support them. If we have to lose a batsmen to accomodate another strike bowler then so be it.

    So let us know who the bowling team should be rather than talk about replacing the batting team. It is no good scoring 600 if we let the Aussies do the same.

  • Comment number 10.

    The above analysis ignores the fact that England are extremely lucky to be still in with a chance of winning and could easily be 4-0 down at this stage. Australia should have won in Cardiff, could have chased down 500+ to win at Lords if 3 of their top order had not been given out in controversial circumstances, would likely have won at Edgbaston except for the rain (lead of almost 300 with 5 wickets in hand) and comprehensively won at Headingley.
    The leading run scorers and wicket takers are all Australian and Englands bottom 5 have scored almost as much as their top 5. The current England squad has therefore been outplayed over the last month or so and it is unlikely that they can turn this around in the next Test. I would therefore think that their only chance is to make wholesale changes and hope the replacements can come up with the goods.

  • Comment number 11.

    Bopara simply cannot play the next test at the Oval. He's had 4 tests and done nothing!
    England are in a position to win the ashes, but this is inspite of him being in the team, not because of it.
    Anyone coming in to replace him will undoubtedly be under pressure, but who ever it is, they can't do any worse!! Thats what the England management should be telling the replacement, make yourself a hero, and even if you don't its not like you've done any worse.
    Key doesn't fill me with confidence, despite a test double hundred under his belt. But at least he's a real number 3 with experience and a calm head. He would also be an asset in the field as he is an excellent captain. At times Strauss seems to need ideas from elsewhere when the plans dont work and Key would give that extra opinion to comnsider.
    I would love to see Owais Shah come in at three, where he should have been all series, but maybe it would be too much pressure for a relatively inexperienced player at internation level.
    Ramps would be fantastic for nostalgia value alone, and I think he would probably make more runs than Bopara has done in the series in just this match, but at 3? Would prefer him at 4 in place of Bell, who also should lose his place. Another who does not deserve to be in the team. Others are playing better in the counties, and he has failed consistently in tests when it matters. On streaky 50 when theres no pressure and the situation is not tough, does not an ashes winner make.
    So for me, probably Key in at 3 and Ramps in at 4. Colly to keep his place, and be given a kick up the backside for this game.
    The bowling is another matter entirely.

  • Comment number 12.

    Here we go again. England lose one test match - in pretty dismal fashion, I'll admit - and we're back to all the talk of the fundamental failures of English cricket. Where was this a week ago? And somehow, it's those same doom-mongers who single-handedly keep the likes of Mark Ramprakash in the test reckoning. No way. Agree with Tuffers, Hayden and the others here.

    The whole team doesn't need a shake-up:

    1) Bring back Freddie for either Harmy or Onions. I hoped Onions would outbowl Harmison in the last test but on balance he's not done enough to keep his place. I think Harmison's mental fragility makes him a liability but the Oval should at least suit him better than Headingly.

    2) Keep Bopara but bat him at 4, with Bell at 3. Not ideal but much better than the alternatives.

    Talking of which, I find the talk of a possible recall for Ramps absolutely ludicrous. He's a proven failure at test level, particularly whenever he was under any kind of pressure - his one Ashes hundred in a dead rubber in 2001 barely counts. He only scores bucket-loads of runs for Surrey because he feels under no pressure whatsoever to perform. The answer, therefore, is not to put him straight into the most pressured match of his life...

    No, stick with Ravi, give him the relative comfort of second-wicket down and try and build his confidence back.


  • Comment number 13.

    I don't see why Rob Key is being named as a potential replacement. He has about the 20th best average in Division 2 of County Cricket, in comparison to Ramprikash who has an unbelievable one. Bopara must drop down the order, and if trescothick can play, I would play him.


  • Comment number 14.

    I would pick Strauss, Prior and then 9 bowlers! England's lower 6 players (non-specialist batsmen) have contributed 40% of the runs in this current series out of the 2162 runs England has scored. We have more chance of skittling Australia out that way for a low-ish and then let Broad and Swanny come in the middle order and bish bosh bash it around!

  • Comment number 15.

    Ravi has failed in every innings, how can he possibly deserve his place?

  • Comment number 16.

    Can anyone remember a decent Paul Collingwood innings that was not in reaction to being dropped or to England staring down a barrel?

  • Comment number 17.

    I've given up calling for Colly to be dropped for just that reason - somehow, he does seem to come good eventually.

    We need to hope some of that rubs off on Bopara.

    That's more likely to happen that Trott scoring runs on debut...

  • Comment number 18.

    AndyfromWidnes (9)

    Interesting point about England opting to bat after the disturbances of the previous night (incidentally I'm amazed there haven't been any conspiracy theories about that......) but I think you're overlooking the other problem- Prior's back. As it transpired his spasm turned out to be a temporary glitch which didn't affect him later in the game but it would have been a bit of a gamble for Strauss to put the Aussies in under the circumstances- suppose his back had gone again stretching for a wild Harmison bouncer in the first couple of overs.....

  • Comment number 19.

    Bell has proven time and again that he doesn't have the composure in high pressure situations. The same was true of Mark Ramprakash. Neither should be considered for the oval. Bopara is a young and talented batsman who has the potential to be a match winner for England. He's a good 'un, like broad, not to be discarded at the first drop in form. Harmison should not have been picked for Headingley, the pitch and conditions would have suited Sidebottom much better. However, remembering how he played against South Africa at the oval last year, I would give him another chance too (although KP did seem to have a knack for getting the best out of him). So the question is - who replaces Bell and I suppose this means Trott will get his chance.

  • Comment number 20.

    I wouldn't go for wholesale changes, but England's need is to come up with an adequate replacemnt for their senior batsman, KP. Bell seemed like a reasonable substitution, but apparently he isn't. I would not even consider asking someone to make his debut at the Oval or recall someone such as Key or Shah who woukld feel that their whole future is at stake. Since Trescothick does not seem like a possibility, I do think that Ramps is the best short-term fill-in until KP can return. And his record is actually good against Australia, including, if I remember correctly, some under-pressure innings. Ramps has the talent and current form, and at this stage he just would not have the same pressures as any other candidate or, indeed, as he himself had in his earlier England career.

  • Comment number 21.

    electricdrewgaloo has a short memory. If Collingwood hadn't saved England at Cardiff, the Ashes would have already gone. He averages well over 40 in Test cricket and what he lacks in flair he more than makes up for in mental strength.

    The selectors shouldn't panic but understand that The Oval is effectively a Cup Final. They need to decide who the best players are to shine in that pressure cauldron and not buckle under pressure. That's why for me, Colly is in and Bell and Bopara are out. It's not the game for debutants, so Trott must wait for the South African tour. Key should come back in. He is a tough cookie, with a good Test record at no 3 (averaging 40), and is well respected by the Aussies. Warne, Gower, Botham and Boycott all think he should be in, which is good enough for me.

    I've got a hunch that Trescothick would love to play, help England win the Ashes and sign off his international career on the right note. He could open to allow Cook to drop down the order (thus reuniting him with Strauss, our best opening pair since Hobbs & Sutcliffe), or you could bat him at three or four.

    Fred has to play unless he cannot walk. The adrenalin will get him through. Two spinners is not the way to beat the Aussies unless Murali and Mendis can qualify for England in the next ten days. Stick with Swann and then play Anderson, Onions and Harmy. It's harsh on Broad but Harmy is a potential match-winner at the Oval.

  • Comment number 22.

    Flintoff (Harmison further down the order if Flintoff's unfit)

    This goes against the point of this article, but if England are going to bring someone back for 1 test only a guy who averages 27 in tests is not the answer, go the whole hog and bring Trescothick back, a wonderful test opener who's not too old and has continued to score a huge amount of runs at Somerset.

    Having Bopara or Bell is acceptable, but the problem is that having them both makes the middle order look incredibly weak. Talk of Key or Trott is misplaced, they merely highlight England's lack of options in the middle-order because they are not stand-out prospects and I see no reason to believe that they will be more effective than the incumbents.

    The Oval may well be condusive to spin but England should not, under any circumstances, revert to Monty Panesar - he is not good enough, doesn't understand the game enough, has no variation and is not a match winner. Australia only have one spinner, and although it hasn't always looked like in this series, Swann is a superior bowler to him (Hauritz) so England should have edge in the spin department.

    A case can be made for Sidebottom ahead of Broad but given the troubles nearer to the top of the order Broad coming in at 8 is a welcome sight for England.

  • Comment number 23.

    Surely Trescothick isn't a viable option? He's been unavailable to play for the last three years. I'm not sure anything's changed - beyond the fact we've never really replaced him at the top of the order...

  • Comment number 24.

    Collingwood/Shah (or if we can tempt Gower out of retirement....)
    Prior (still one place too high)
    Flintoff (on two legs, on one, or on none - doesn't matter, he's playing)

    Really not sure who to go with as the other two seam bowlers, though suspect the three seamers will instead be Anderson, Onions and Broad, the latter of which is not a Test class bowler, despite his six-fer, and has a long way to go before he becomes one - he's being picked because he can score runs at eight, which is patently absurd. All three will be meat and drink to the Aussies on a flat Oval pitch - any serious speedsters out there that might have half a chance of ruffling a feather or two?

    If Key, a proper number three as opposed to the current occupent, doesn't make the side this time, he never will again - and I would love to see Ramps back in there for this one game, scoring a ton on his home ground and reminding the cricketing world what he could have been with a) better management from the ECB and b) a half-decent sports shrink would could have calmed him down.

    Would also love to see Banger in there, and he was apparently sounded out about making a return, but said no - am sure it broke his heart to do so, but that chapter's sadly closed.

  • Comment number 25.

    I posted this on Tom's other blog

    For those who think "The Oval will suit Harmison" or "Harmy is a potential match-winner at the Oval", check his figures for the Oval Test of 2005.

    Have a look at Bell's contribution in the same test.

  • Comment number 26.

    Some people forget Ramps has ALWAYS scored runs at county level regardless of wether its been in Div 1 or Div 2, I'm sure Bopara or Bell would love to be half the bastsman Ramprakash is. As for the Oval treat it as a one off match winner takes all and let that determine selection, this match does not determine the future of English cricket or the present english players careers in the the long term, should always pick the players in the best form, same rules apply in any sport.......if the shoe was on the other foot the aussies would'nt think twice about putting Ramps in if they needed to as its all about winning and giving yourself the best be honest I'm sick of hear all this mindless drivel about Ramps not being good enough if he had been aussie he'd have been in there team all this and be a class leading run scorer, he would have been treat right, it was and has always been the downfall of Ramps the way he was handled from very early on by the english selectors, we had potentially one of the best batsmen of his generation and the selectors screwed him up........the so called experts on TV and radio arn't much better they talk a load of dross half the time anyway.

  • Comment number 27.

    Ravi can't bat at 3. If Strauss and Cook don't put on a 70 or better stand then the collapse would be on straight away. We need someone solid. I wish Tresco was ok in the head then it would be easy pushing Cook down to 3. But he isn't so, it has to be Bell, Key or Ramps! Don't thinks Ramps is a great idea at this stage so either swap Bell and Ravi or bring in Key.

    Bowling wise, drop Onions for Fred if fit. Otherwise Siders for Onions.

  • Comment number 28.

    Why not copy what the Aussies did? Put an all rounder further up the batting order. I would keep the existing 11 bar injuries and also assuming that the pitch is not going to be doctored for spin only.

    Promote Broad to no. 3, Bopara to no. 4. This means the Aussie pace attack facing three left handers one after the other, and for some reason they prefer bowling to right handers. It is a risk and Broad may have to curb his temperament but as he has beaten his father's record in Ashes Test matches held in England it might be a worthwhile gambit to pursue.

    Tactically England need to improve, Ponting was in a different league compared to Strauss and the England coaching staff. In 2005 England seemed to have a set plan to bowl to each Aussie batsman, now for the newer Aussie players England's approach is haphazrd - the backroom coching staff have not done their homework!

  • Comment number 29.

    Typical England - one defeat and suddenly it all needs changing. Harmy should never have played at headingley but I think he may do a job at the Oval. I also think the best department england has over the aussies is spin and so I'd get the groundsman to prepare a flat dustbowl that will offer very little to their 4 seam attack and play monty and swann and hope that we can spin it to win it. I know this tactic didn't work in cardiff but I honestly can't see how else we can beat them now they've hit form - their batsmen and bowlers are far more confident than ours.

    Our batting is a problem but I honestly can't see who would do much better if they came in - Ramps is playing in div 2 against total dross and so he just can't be considered, key has never taken any other chance in the past so why would he succeed now? Anyone else would be a gamble that isn't worth taking. One change could be dropping bopara down to 5 with colly and bell moving up one. The fact of the matter is that bopara probably isn't good enough yet but he will learn so much from this series and so has to be given the chance to see it through.

    The team needs to be something like: strauss, cook, bell, colly, bopara, prior, freddie (god willing), onions, swann, jimmy, monty. With broad for fred if he doesn't pull through. It's tough on broad to be dropped but if the tactics are for a spinning, flat wicket i can't see his bowling being missed and we can't keep him in just for his batting!

  • Comment number 30.

    Chris Tremlett should be in with a shout in place of Harmison I believe, he may not have as many wickets in the County Championship this year, but he is far more consistent and even taller than Harmy, he could cause the aussies really problems.
    This is if Freddie isn't fit mind...

  • Comment number 31.

    I wish we could stop seeing Harmison as an alternative to Flintoff - thats one of the first mistakes England's selectors made at Headingley.

    Harmison should play - or not - on his merits as a fast bouncy bowler on a fast bouncy pitch.

    If Flintoff's not fit, a separate call needs to be made about the balance of the side.

  • Comment number 32.

    SputnikIV: Spot on about Collingwood.

    I find it quite amazing how many people call for his head every time he has a bad innings when a quick check of his stats would set them right.

    Even this series he had 3 fifties in five innings, was our second top scorer and was averaging 45.

    Doesn't make him Tendulkar i'll grant you but it's not like we have a glut of world class batsmen pushing for his place.

  • Comment number 33.

    I think we should bring ramprakash back drop bopara and play freddie we need to get the team right theres no second chance.I think that its a pity sir ian cant play or wed have the aussies licked!!

  • Comment number 34.

    I like the idea of playing two spinners, playing the one trump card that we have and that Australia lack. If the pitch does turn, it's a series-winning masterstroke. If not, well, Swann and Panesar are actually both pretty good bowlers anyway, so you've lost very little.

  • Comment number 35.

    Haha genius, Broad not a test class bowler despite a six-fer when all our other bowlers (only anderson with an excuse) were bowling tripe! how is that not test class? We need to actually start supporting the players representing our country rather than just bitching about them, the crowd needs to be our 12th man!

  • Comment number 36.

    Cant believe people are saying keep Bopara and put him at 5 or 4 and let him rebuild his confidence! This is IT guys, THE ASHES, theres no building for tomorrow.
    England have been increasingly outplayed with top of batting order pitfiul - and without lower middle order wagging could have been in big trouble at Edgbaston too, weather allowing, as well as of course Cardiff and Headingley.
    Drop failures Bell Bopara and Colly (although they wont drop him) and bring in Key, Ramps and Trott. Ok if they fail they fail no more so than the others have already.
    Bowling is a concern too with over-reliance on bowlers that the Aussies seem to have worked out unless the pitch is totally in their favour, Onins and Anderson, and I dont think the Oval will be. OK these guys are erratic but Harmison seems to do well at the Oval and seems to take wickets and I would throw Monty back in too. We have to somehow take 20 wickets and these guys could do it. Maybe keep Anderson in if he gets hot and pitch looks suitable. So go with Fred, Harmison (or Anderson), Swann, Monty, Broad.

  • Comment number 37.

    Ravi has not just had a bad day at the office - he's hit rock bottom of a nightmare summer. The only people with worse series averages are Monty and Onions, who both bat at 11.

    How could you possibly select him to go in at 3 in a must-win game?

    It's not panicking to drop someone who's performing that poorly, it's just sanity.

    He needs time out for his own sake and England's - and with a bit of luck he can make a triumphant return in the winter, as an Ashes winning veteran.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think the point that Hayden and Tuffers alluded to is you can;t drop 4 or 5 players all of a sudden because of one match

    Bell only been back in the side
    Onions and Anderson did they not tore the Aussies to shreds at Edgbaston
    Bopara - the only one who probably will be dropped because his run has been consistently poor

    Harmison - his last chance saloon has gone as he wasted it after getting KAtich out bowling tripe

    We are forgetting who wants to be thrown into the Lion's den knowing the last test has high stakes in claiming the Ashes

    The match ending early means some players might now get some match practice which would not have happened had the Headingley match gone the full 5 days

  • Comment number 39.

    re 32

    i was one for dropping him (collingwood) aswell but now you mention it he as been quite decent for us compared to bopara and bell so i keep him and maybe promote him to no 4.

    i also think we shud bring back panesar and drop harmison because i was never for harmison coming back in the first place and possibly play 2 spinners if flintoff is fit i say drop the unfit anderson so we have a pace attack of flintoff, broad and onions and with broad and flintoff we have 2 decent all rounders in there aswell promote broad to 7 and flintoff to no 8.

    drop bopara and bell like i sed and bring in ramps and trott and my team would be

    strauss, cook, ramps, collingwood, trott, prior, broad, flintoff, swann, onions, and panesar

  • Comment number 40.

    Owais Shah failed in the Caribbean when Bopara was scoring runs so that hardly makes him an inspired alternative. Bopara has been hopeless, Bell has been worst and Collingwood not much better.

    As for the mugs who claim Broad has proven himself, all Broad has proved is what anyone with any sense already knew, when the pressure is off he manages to lift himself up into the mediocre category and when the pressure is on he's utterly useless. Bowling and batting when your team has absolutely no chance of saving a match is not pressure because if you fail no one will care.

    If you bring a player in to play at the Oval it proves very little, If Key or Ramps scored a hundred on that batsmans paradise do you think it means he would of done the same at Headingly?

  • Comment number 41.

    I agree with "excellentcatblogger", get broad at no.3. And for people saying Key/Ram, this is not county cricket, ashes. Freddie in, Harmy out, keep the rest, just change the batting order. I think that will be enough to win.

  • Comment number 42.

    Has anyone asked Ramps if he wants to play? He's been badly managed by the selectors before and I wouldn't be suprised if he refused.

    I'd rather keep the squad as it is than bring in a selection that smacks of desperation. No not Key.

    RE selecting to bat for the last test. I think that was a toss you would have wanted to lose!

  • Comment number 43.

    There is no need for knee-jerk reaction here. After all, this was the team which won the lord's test. Losing one, albeit pathetically doesn't need wholesale changes.

  • Comment number 44.

    Why stop at Ramprakash? Why not Brian Close, David Steele and the late Colin Cowdrey to shore up the middle order? Then Charlotte Edwards for Harmison, Alan Johnson to keep wicket and Bruce Forsyth for Alistair Cook. No Freddie Flintoff? No worries, pick Tom Daley instead, that'll get the kids in and he has a cheeky grin.

    Honestly, this armchair selecting really gets my goat. You aren't going to solve the weaknesses of English cricket by hysterical panic-selecting. In fact, hysteria and panic basically ARE the weaknesses of English cricket. Pick Flintoff if available, decide on the final eleven based on conditions and take the fight to the Australians on the pitch. If we lose, so be it, but stop this whingeing and faffing about.

  • Comment number 45.

    So how many people think England, whatever team they eventually go for, will win at The Oval?

    Arm in a half-nelson, I'd say an Aussie win is most likely, followed by a draw, followed by an England win. Not rocket science, but there you go.

  • Comment number 46.

    The only changes I would make are Bell and Harmison OUT. Key and Flintoff in. Stick with Bopara, we know he has the ability.
    My team would be:

    Strauss (c)
    Prior (w)

  • Comment number 47.

    I'd call for Collingwood to be dropped, not because I actually want him to be ahead of anyone else, but because he always seems to get a big score just when the calls for him to be dropped are loudest...

  • Comment number 48.

    I wouldn't change too much - Probably bring in Key. I think having Bopara, bell is too risky if wickets fall, and we had discussed this at work prior to the 1st morning session. Maybe think about putting Collingwood up to 4 to give more protection, if we are doing well when the wicket falls think about putting Collingwood down the order, and then Bell or Bopara at 5 (probably Bell on county form and that Bopara's confidence is shot.)
    Then Prior, Flintoff, Broad( deserves to stay after last display), Swann, Onions and Anderson

    Shame I can only play 11!!

  • Comment number 49.

    gillian21: Considering how many people have been calling for Trescothick to be brought back, I don't think we should rule out Sir Ian. I mean, he keeps fit, still has a bit of a bat once in a while and knows a bit about how to get after the Aussies. Granted, he has said that he's retired from Test cricket and will never play for England again but that's just what Tresco said and people want him back.

  • Comment number 50.

    How many runs does Bopara not have to score before he is replaced. it is a question of form and confidence.

    Bopara may well have a great future with England and Bell can still score runs on his day, however they are both vulnerable and the Australians know it.

    Collingwood is also suffering at the moment.England need strength in depth, players should not think they will be picked automatically.

    Why not mix it up and put in some different players, maybe surprise the Aussies, its a one off test, put out a one off team to win.

    England will need to get together and regroup and mentally prepare as they will need to go out and at Australia agressively, the first day will be crucial.

    Geoff, Andy F please consider the following team -

    Flintoff (Anderson if unfit)

  • Comment number 51.

    Those saying there's no need for change are missing a big point, Bopara and Bell have only ever got runs against weak opposition or when someone else has already got on top of them.
    They're not going to win a game against decent opposition.

    The problem is the lack of replacement, both Key and Ramps have inflated figures from batting on good tracks against Div 2 bowling.

    Even Vaughan's batting was better than Bopara and Bell - and his captiancy was in a different league to Strauss'.

    Remember this is the team that lost in the W.Indies; sure they won the return, in May with the W.Indies not bothered and waiting for the 20-20. but the away series defeat was due to a batting collapse, negative captiance and ineffective bowling.

    Anderson is crucial, and he needs to have 1 of his good days...

    Broad may have got a 6 for, but plenty of those were due to the Aussies looking to get quick runs... those were not the kind of wickets that win games.

    Performance wise it was about even up to Headingly, with the Aussies suffering from dire umpiring decisions and England saving a game; now the Aussies are in the ascendency, their side is more balanced with Clark in the attack and the batting (other than Hussey) is coming together... England are in trouble.

    Its not just the scores Bell (despite the lucky 50) and Bopara have got, its how they've batted; looking like rabbits in the headlights..

    Australia are nothing like the side they once were, but then nor are England, remember we'd one 6 series in a row before 2005.

    Stranger things have happened than if England win at the Oval, but its not looking likely.

  • Comment number 52.

    no 45 Will we win?

    Im not giving up hope. But selection is key!

    The Oval has often been a stronghold for England. Sometimes its been our only win in a series (ok when maybe the opposition have taken foot off pedal after winning already) or we have clinched series there.
    The Aussies have been getting better and tweaking at the right times to peak - so far - but we have often seen this series teams playing well and then falling back in the next match. Sometimes a fight in defeat or draw has led to something good in the next game. Witness how England came back after fighting in Cardiff on to Lords. The Aussies did well at the end of Edgbaston and Lords and this help them go forward. England did do well with Swann and Broad on the last day at Leeds.

    If we get our selection right we can take the initative and bite back hard.
    This Aussie team is still quite inexperienced in England and the Oval will be another new test for them and clinching the series should be made as tought as possible and let's see how they cope.

  • Comment number 53.

    We must win this test match and the top-middle order has to be changed.

    Bell is just too weedy and uninspiring, surely? Wetter than a fishes wet bits as Black Adder would say. He's out for next to nothing or he makes just fifty. Well it isn't enough is it?

    Bopara reminds me of Graham Hick - great when dominating, he rips you to shreds... but ask a few questions? Nil returns. It's not just me - hands up all those that hung there heads when he made three centuries earlier against the West Indies and realised we'd be lumbered all ashes series with him? His technique isn't test match stndard - never has been.

    And hey, I love Collingwood and his attitude - I want to keep him. But he's SO manufactured and Professor Yaffle wooden. I also think the Aussies have worked him out you know, that's the worst fo me. I'd still keep him but then I think I'm too sentimental there.

    So, the new side? In comes Key who has the temperament at least. Ramps fans - sorry, true they mucked him about as well and made him open but he was a wimp as well, you must remember. I'm sick of wimpy England cricketers - is nobody else? We need a few more Robin Smiths!

    Bowlers? Not bad but no direction, personally or practically. If fit, I'd keep what we have, even Harmison - lazy lummox though he is he can be a match winner. Onions? Well, if he were a bag of crisps he'd be PLAIN rather than Cheese and 'onion' but he adds some variety and has done everything asked and taken a few.
    One last MUST - This is 1-1 in The Ashes and this is the decider and FLINTOFF MUST PLAY! How could he possibly NOT play unless he can't stand up?

    So..... Side for Oval:


  • Comment number 54.

    Ravi is not a number 3, his technique is not tight enough and he goes for his shots too much to cope with the new ball. He does have a future for England, at 4 or 5 maybe. This is a one-off, winner takes all match and his confidence must be shot after the series he has had. Give him a break, but tell him he will be back if he gets some runs for his county -just like the Aussies did with Hughes.

    We need a solid number 3 with experience - I'd lean towards Key, who can also help Strauss on the pitch as a knowledgeable skipper in his own right.

    Give Bell another chance as it would be harsh to drop him again so quickly and I don't see any outstanding alternatives. Giving someone a debut in a match like this would be crazy.

    Other than that, Freddie, even on one leg, has to come back in, maybe for Harmy or even Onions - they need to take a good look at the pitch and weather forecast to decide. No point bringing back Monty - as Warne says, he has not played 30 odd tests, just the same test 30 odd times. He has not developed.

  • Comment number 55.

    Don't listen to Haydn when he talks of two spinners - blatant deception tactics. Panesar has had his day for now, so who else - Rashid? Come on, talk about a lamb to slaughter in such an important game.

    In my view, two changes must occur. Trott for Bopara and Flintoff for Harmison. If England play at their very best and with the same discipline, consistency and belief as at Lords, we have a 50/50 chance of winning. Unless the weather is poor, I don't believe there will be a draw. This is a Cup Final and a result is inevitable. England must win, so they need to be aggressive with all guns firing and rattle the Australian cage early on.

    My team for the forthcoming Oval epic would be:

    Prior (w)

  • Comment number 56.

    Shame the dead-in-the-head selectors don't have the balls to put Ramps in. Who cares if we win or lose the Ashes, we can't be proud of our performance.

    It's time to go back to when England knew how to win things. Fighting with the best men in the field - all other criteria in the bin.

    With the backroom staff staying up all night preparing a bowling attack to annhialate each of the aussie batsman.

    I don't care who wins the ashes as long as 11 English men turn up with their balls.

  • Comment number 57.

    Stunning! The amount of drivel some posters spout on this blog. You don't understand the first thing about runnning a team , building team spirit in the long term. You should be ashamed of your panicked responses. Yes, the team played poorly but they were selected for the right reasons in the first place & the players/coaches have got to show some character & turn the situation around.

    Selecting Ramps is NOT the way forward.

  • Comment number 58.

    I saw Michael Vaughan talking about Trent Bridge 2005 on that other TV channel yesterday. He said "the support at Edgebaston, Old Trafford and Trent Bridge really lifts the England team .....". So the ECB hold Ashes tests elsewhere! For other test series (ex. Sth Africa perhaps) no problems with other grounds but the Ashes must be Lords, Edgebaston, Old Trafford, Trent Bridge and the Oval. The Aussies stick to Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth every time.

    My team for the Oval

    Collingwood at 3
    Bopara 4
    Bell 5

    Onions out Panesar in

    Flintoff for Harmison if fit.

  • Comment number 59.

    Bell and Bopara should go. This is a one off, must win game for England and patently Bopara and Bell are short of confidence at the moment. Bell is not up to it at international level, in much the same way as Ramprakash wasn't up to it. Bopara should be given another chance, but I would prefer to see him pushed down the order. My preference would be for Rob Key to come in at 3, Collingwood to move up to 4 and Bopara to slot in at 5. If Freddie is fit, he comes in for Harmison, if not a decision needs to be made about the pitch and whether you play Harmison, Sidebottom or Panesar.



  • Comment number 60.

    Let Cook captin the Oval side and bat at 3. New on form batsman at 2 sat Trott.R eplace Steve Harmison, Bopara for Collingwood the rest the same. No place for Flintoff even if he thinks he is fit sorry he plays for himself not the team now.

  • Comment number 61.

    Ah, these armchair selectors who think they know it all. Australia made one key change by bringing in Watson and it worked. If we make wholesale changes for the Oval I believe it will destroy team morale. Okay, bring in Freddy if he's totally fit, drop Harmiston and bring in a number 3 who can hold the innings together. Who I don't know. Having said all that I think the Aussies are peaking and will destroy us next week. They're a lot better than the media would have us believe.

  • Comment number 62.

    A few comments have cracked me up, one guy saying play strauss and prior and 9 bowlers lol!! and another guy saying broad at 3!! Hes the only one doing anything with the bat so why not? Graham napier to come in if freddie can't play? bag sum runs quickly? I'm not a cricket expert i'll be honest but he can score runs quickly can't he. ALso if he'll play definitely get trescothick in, i started watching cricket in ashes 2005, and he was so assured and dominant, he also seemed to inspire strauss as well.

    Flintoff if fit

    Am i crazy?

  • Comment number 63.

    SoftandFluffy@55: In what way is bringing Trott into this bearpit of expectation not going to be the same "lamb to the slaughter" as Rashid? This is not the Test for new caps. And how can it not be a draw? Every first-class match played there this season has been a draw and since the Aussies only need a draw, it has to be almost certain that they'll get 600 off their first innings, turn us over for 400+ and then bat til lunch on the 5th day.

    rideforever@56: The selectors care if we win the Ashes. You may not like it but actually they would prefer us to play like wimps and win rather than play like gladiators and lose. The win is everything to them.

  • Comment number 64.

    Team morale what about supporters morale. I do not think there is any team morale in the England side too many people from 2005 trying to be the captain and too many players trying to play when they are not fit. Thats my guess at things. Make Cook captain things will get better. Struss has not got the backbone to be captain. A firm hand is whats needed.

  • Comment number 65.

    Why is young Bopara being used as the escape goat. He is the youngest batsman in this 11.Given a massive responsibility at 3. Bell/Collingwood have batted as poorly too, even having played 2 previous Ashes ,but they are not being targeted. We must give Ravi support, more understanding and allow him to complete this series. He is Asian and with such a background, he is also a fighter. Phil Tufnell is right, we must rally behind him to cheer him and increase his confidence. He will After all he had already produced 3 (100's) in this position when he was asked to bat at 3 following the massive England defeat in the West Indies, and helped Endland win the home test series recently

  • Comment number 66.

    I really can't believe the flack Harmison is coming in for. Notwithstanding the fact that he may just have been asked to try and bounce Aurstralia out at Headingley, a good number of people seem to be disregarding the fact that, to win back The Ashes, England have to bowl Australia out twice at The Oval.

    To do that we need an attack capable of getting 20 wickets and, love him or loathe him, the fact remains that no batsman in the world likes facing genuine pace and Harmison is no trundler. And he put the skids under Australia when playing for The Lions only weeks ago.

    I would go with the same attack at The Oval, only changing it if Flintoff is fit in which case I think Onions or Anderson should make way (my choice would be the latter, who has flattered to deceive far more than Harmison has ever done).

    It is the middle order where changes are needed, but England simply cannot drop all three of them which means Collingwood is safe. Bopara and Bell to get the chop for me, with any two of Ramprakash, Key, Trott or Denly to come in, although I would be reluctant to give two debuts in such a crucial game as it would give Australia a further lift (not that they need one).

    The alternative, although it is never going to happen, is to plead with Trescothick.............

  • Comment number 67.

    No.65, I agree. Colly/Cook/Bell should take more of the blame than Bopara.

  • Comment number 68.

    Bopara has to go, but I'm not sure anyone else does. With the need to win rather than draw, Flintoff could come straight in to replace Bopara (albeit lower down the order) in an otherwise unchanged side.

    Then again, that means you have to put Bell at 3... or maybe Collingwood. Yes, Collingwood is a fighter so I'd put him at 3. Thus:


    Some might say the tail's too long, but right now the tail is batting better than the middle order! Plus, six bowlers provides lots of variety in attack, and allows Flintoff to be saved for short spells - which is all I'd be prepared to give him anyway.

    Keeping most of the same personnel but reorganising in the process means there's a sense of shock to the system, but the Aussies can't pounce on the perception of 'panic'.

  • Comment number 69.

    Bopara is being used as a scape goat because you are not allowed to say anyone that was part of the 2005 team cannot play at test level. The truth is there is little support for new players in the England set up. It was only a week ago people wanted Broad out he was the bad boy now look.
    Bell Collingwood Harmison Flintoff should all go new players for the next test. They should have all gone 2 years ago.

  • Comment number 70.

    Is one of the problems nowadays that with the advent of so much "Quick Scoring " one day cricket, too many English batsmen forget that a test match lasts 5 days. They are playing far too many balls as though they are in a run chase from the off.

    It seems to me that as run rates in test cricket have rocketed, English batsmen have forgotten how to "build" an innings. How many centuries scored by the Aussies compared to England ?.

    As with football, technique ultimately is the key to how good a player is, and how far a team can go, thats why England will never win the WC (before you say they have got a 100% qualifying record, hey look at the opposition and how often have they deceived to flatter in real competition in the last few years)

    Look at Spain, they were too small a side they said ? They have technique.

    Technique will get you everywhere, and technique includes knowing where your stumps are, and it seems to me that apart from lack of patience in building an innings, even if they could master that English batsmen dont know where their stumps are.

  • Comment number 71.

    My team (and England's hopes) are dependent on Flintoff being fit. I would bring in Key and Trott for Bell and Bopara. I would open with Key and drop Cook down to 3 where he originally came into the side. Collingwood would bat at 4 for a bit of added responsability which he seems to enjoy. Trott would bat at 5, with the rest basically picking themselves. If Flintoff is unfit I would pick either Harmison or Panesar depending on the surface.


  • Comment number 72.

    I am sure Bopara will have a future but why are people defending him so.

    The stats show he has underperformed and needs to be replaced and this goes for any player KP and strauss included.

    Were the same people shouting for previous young talent that has been dropped and almost forgotten after "not performing" - Plunkett, Tremlett , Shah etc

  • Comment number 73.

    Colly looks well out of form needs to drop out with Key coming in at 3 and Bopara dropping into Colly's spot. I don't see Bopara as a 3 he's too loose against the new'ish ball. Bell's problems with playing round his front pad have to be solved before he will contribute as his talent demands. I'd stick with him for this next match. Fred in for Harmie who bowls as if he doesn't have a cricket brain at all.

  • Comment number 74.

    jay_jamie_matt - yes you are!

  • Comment number 75.

    i think the squad should be chosen on the type of ground they are playing on if the oval plays like lords did then onions, anderson, sidebottom,harmison and broad should bowl with flintoff (if fit) i think the team should be:
    Bell (he has scored 64 in 3 innings compared to bopara's 105 in 7)
    ian Blackwell/flintoff

  • Comment number 76.

    1. Andrew Strauss
    2. Alistair Cook
    3. Rob Key
    4. Stephen Moore
    5. Ravi Bopara
    6. Matt Prior
    7. Andrew Flintoff (as long as he is fit)
    8. Stuart Broad
    9. Graeme Swann
    10. Ryan Sidebottom
    11. James Anderson (as long as he is fit)

  • Comment number 77.

    57 'building team spirit in the long term'

    you miss the point. We've been trying to do the above for ages, trying to play the 'oh it's ok he'll be good in the future card'.
    But the tomorrows are here NOW and we have to win NOW. And we won't with flimsy players like Bell and Bopara remaining there and failing. Team spirit will only take you so far. Ability and results are required NOW.

  • Comment number 78.

    To answer Tom's question about what will happen in the match... oh what the hell - England win!

    The fact we've just been hammered in the last match doesn't mean we can't win at the Oval.

  • Comment number 79.

    Those people asking why Bopara is being scapegoated, perhaps this link will help - it's the English batting averages for the series in descending order:;team=1;type=series

  • Comment number 80.

    We must not panic. Bopara is England's future.Please,please rally behind him. This will cheer and inspire him. We seem to have forgotten he came back from the IPL (where he was Man of the Match) ,full of beans . And he followed this with 2 test 100's.During the winter, he was also flown while playing for the Eng lions in NZto replace poorly performly Bell in the West Indies. He must have felt so honoured and excited that he scored his first Test 100.We do not want to punish him with humiliating exit without giving him a chance to do something amazing in the Oval which we are confident he will deliver.

  • Comment number 81.

    The Ashes are important.But to regularly win future games of cricket against other nations is more important.If England are going to win against other nations, they must stick to the same current squad ! Yes bring in Freddie of course and KP if possible. But stick to BOP No:3 and let Bell tinker along to the tunes of his critics. Let them take the pressure to prove themselves as regulars in the England team.This is exactly what a TEST is all about !
    The whole side after all are made up of players from different counties. They need to work as a unit,instead of as strangers just getting to know each other.Most importantly, the Aussies need to know that England is not panicking ! Chopping and changing simply creates the same pressure on the new incoming players.The summer will be over soon and the Ashes will be fought for once again in the future.But there is more cricket to be played against other nations and the ones who started this summer must finish the show and be given the best possible loyalty by all !Physical fitness issues are the only reasons for making a change.

  • Comment number 82.

    After going to the test match at Headingley I was disgusted by Englands performance with the bat and the ball. We seemed to lack any sort of class, and looked like we should have been playing at county division two level! I think changes have to be made- this would be my team for the Oval.

    Bopara/Ramprakash- Havent made my mind up yet!
    Flintoff (if fit- otherwise we've lost)

  • Comment number 83.

    Pot@78: It might improve our chances of winning. There's also every chance that it could turn into just the sort of bare-knuckle, gritted-teeth scrap that suits Collingwood and Flintoff. If Bopara is to stay in the team then drop him to 5, Colly up to 3 and leave Bell at 4 or replace him with Key.

  • Comment number 84.

    Move Ravi UP the order into 2nd. Keep everything else the same, with Freddie in for Bell.

    The problem has been that as soon as the first wicket falls, it's gone quickly downhill. If Ravi's in the opening partnership he'll benefit from Strauss' calming influence and last longer... and when he does fall, Cook has the right technique and understanding with Strauss to stay at the crease for a while and keep the boat steady.

  • Comment number 85.

    England lack confidence in their batting without KP and need more strength. Key can pay back more than the Aussies give him, and Trott is in form.

    Anderson (if not fit, Sidebottom)

    It's Freddie's last game, so he'll take all 10 wickets before he's stretchered off.

  • Comment number 86.

    Following the failure of England’s middle order in the current Ashes Series there have been talks of England re calling veteran Mark Ramprakash for the 5th and final Test Match at the Oval.
    England lost the 4th Test Match at Headignley by an innings and 80 runs as Australia levelled the series at 1-1.
    Middle order batsmen Ravi Bopara,Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood only managed 16 runs between them in the match.
    Ramprakash who scored the 108th 1st class century of his career has been in sublime for Surrey once again this season, he currently averages over 100 this season.
    Given Ramprakash’s superb form and experience picking the 39 year old for the 5th Test could well be a very shrewd move by England.
    As well as his sublime form another thing Ramprakash has in his favour is the fact that is that the Oval has been his home ground since 2001, when he became a Surrey player.

  • Comment number 87.

    Is it me or has everybody overlooked Luke Wright? I mean, he played well in the T20 World Cup and has proved he can play test match style cricket by hitting the runs for Leicestershire. He's young, talented and confident. Surely he is what England need right now! To be honest I thought he should have been in from Test 1, what does everybody else think to maybe selecting Luke Wright?

  • Comment number 88.

    Why oh why are the England selectors missing the obvious? Bopara can't bat against the new ball! He's never been able to, and putting him at number 3 is just ludicrous! I think the smaller number of changes the better, but some people just have to go. I'd go for two changes; Bell has been found out and has no chance against Johnson when he swings the ball back into his legs and Harmison has never been able to bowl consistently for England. Bring in Trott at number 3, push Colly to 4 and Bopara can bat at 5. This will relieve the pressure on Bopara and he can come in with a few runs on the board (hopefully) against an old ball. Do the obvious of swapping Harminson for Flintoff (who will definitely play, even if he only has one leg) and you're there:


  • Comment number 89.

    This is not about the future it's about a one off game to win back The Ashes, so pick players on form.

    My 11 =

    Strauss (c)
    Foster (wk)

    Put Prior in as a batsman and let Foster take the gloves..

  • Comment number 90.

    Sorry but where do people think Key canmake it at Test level when he hardly sets the world alight at division 2 level. He has a career average of only 41 and this season 50! Hardly gives one confidence that he is the new messiah of the English Middle Order.

    May be he just gets board of the tosh thats bowled to him in Div 2 or he loses concentration as he dreams of better things (eg lunch), why do people think he will make it at test level when he is just slightly better than average in Div 2!

    If he has "got the temprament and technique" he should be averaging much higher!

    Explanations please!

  • Comment number 91.

    Full marks Tuffers for positive thinking - and I agree that this is a side that is ultra-sensitive to change. But quite frankly Harmison is a has-been but who else is there (replacement for Freddie...don't make me laugh). However above all Bopara has not risen to the task. Trott has attitude and something to prove - now would be a good time to give him a place. I guess the Pattinson debacle has made the selectors a bit squeamish, but the guy has a fantastic average, brilliant attitude (and he's a Saffer too!). Get him into Pietersen's place and keep Bell, who on his day is a performer.

  • Comment number 92.

    Theres so much panic on here its incredible. Will someone remind me what the score is please?! Oh yeah...thats right...its 1-1 with a game to play. Basically, whoever wins this game wins the Ashes. What a finale. Would all the English fans have taken 1-1 going into the final game? Ofcourse they would.

    Flintoff if fit will be a huge boost and i fully expect him to come back in for Harmison and oh yeah...thats will be the team that won at Lords then. Certain people have such short memories. Yes...we got absolutely pummelled at Headingley but ever since the last day at Cardiff we have been in the driving seat. We should tell these lads that they have made a mess and that they should go and make up for it. Go and prove all these people who are slating them (who probably dont have a clue about cricket really) that they are wrong. As soon as England dont do well theres a huge panic bandwagon thats set up.

    Im not a fool, Bopara has disappointed me. Hes class and head and shoulders above many otheres in our domestic game but hasnt kicked on from a promising early summer. However, he really is one big score away and im backing him to produce at the Oval. He should be given a chance and not chucked away. Bell is in a similar category having been handed a chance and dont tell me Key would have been a better option. There are young talented players like Hildreth and Denly but they arent yet in his class. Still, he needs to produce something good at the Oval as Trott is knocking on the door for the future tours.

    Broad has been getting alot of stick too. Yes his bowling hasnt been what it should be but hes just got 6 wickets and is our 2nd leading wicket taker. He also played a sublime and exciting innings on the last day. He is always improving and trying to do things, his heart and character are huge and this latest pwerformance actually might have been the catelyst he needed. Dropping him now certainly would be a big mistake.

    Lets just get behind this same bunch of players that have fought their way to 1-1 in the series and back them until the very end of the 5th day at the Oval. Following the match and looking at the result we can then look forword to the future and any necessary changes.

  • Comment number 93.

    Please do not panic. Bopara and Bell will deliver at the Oval with 100's. Keep the chosen team intact. Any replacement will not guarantee any improvement and is a sign of panic. Decisions following such hysteria and making young Ravi an escapegoat will all end in tears and recrimations.We are surprised how excited the Sky panel of Gower/Botham/Warne were hurriedly behaving like gods and telling all of us that by pinpointing Ravi as the escapegoat England is guaranteed to win back the Ashes. We implore the selectors and the 2 Andys to keep their heads, and keep faith in the team they have kept unchanged .We commend this confidence/loyalty.

  • Comment number 94.

    There is no need to panic. Bringing back a player who has failed at test cricket is not an option. Are there any batsmen out there who have succeeded in test cricket before who we can call on? The only one who has any sort of record is Rob Key who is mentally tough according to the players who have played with him. That leaves the question who to drop. Ravi Bopara is a talent but he clearly the pressure of the series has got to him. Witness how he changed his game after the first test rather than sticking to what has got him to the test side in the first place. We should stick with him though and simply tell him that we are backing him. He has only had around eleven tests and has shown class in those. Sticking with him will tell us whether he has the gumption to be successful... On the other hand Ian Bell is someone who has had around forty tests and not produced. He has come in for Pietersen and not convinced yet again. I would go for a batting line up as follows.


    Hopefully Flintoff is fit in which case stick with him and Prior batting at seven. The challenge then is to see whether they can bowl as well as they have at times. England are a frustrating side to watch when fielding as they have produced brilliant spells but then eight aussies have got hundreds which looking at the pitches they have played on is ridiculous. Stick with Broad who is getting better, have the pace and bounce of Flintoff and hopefully Swann can come to the party (as the old Fletcher adage had it) as he has threatened to do but then failed to follow through when it has mattered. Sidebottom for Anderson if his hamstring fails...

    Langer's comment about Anderson being a pussy was rather well timed in light of how poorly he bowled at Headingley....

    I do hope England win but this series has served to confirm how special 2005 was when it felt like there were two great teams competing..

  • Comment number 95.

    Whats this madness about upsetting or humiliating players if they are dropped!

    They are grown sportsmen and need to realise that they are playing at the highest level, if they dont perform then somebody else should be given a chance.

  • Comment number 96.

    Dumbpanic - you have a strange definition of "panic". Dropping a player like Bopara who's been awful all summer doesn't strike me as panicking, it strikes me as sensible.

  • Comment number 97.


    England need to win and they can't do this unless they take 20 wickets. This is the only track on which I would ever pick harmison in UK. The rest is as good a mix of stroke making/stability as we have got and includes 4 genuine all-rounders.

  • Comment number 98.

    "Stick with the same team" ... surely you are joking.

    This is really an English thing to say. Everything is done so damn slowly here. Just like with the IPL - England was damn slow to react. India is laughing as they take the lead in the Twenty20 form of the game. England ... England is still waiting 25 years for MCC membership !

    Bopara had 4 (F-O-U-R) chances, and failed. Goodbye.
    (Come back in 12 months maybe)

    It should be : "You do well - you're in. You do badly - you're out." None of this, oh well he's a really great guy - who cares. Oh well he's done well in the past - who cares. "Can he win today ?" - that is the only question.

    "We need to build a team" ... What, a team of losers ? That's what we have done, built a team of crumblers and losers. To crumble twice at headingley with the bat - pathetic, not in terms of skill, but in terms of attitude and courage. And the other tests haven't been pretty for the mostpart either. You'd think we were short of options within the country - that's not the case.

    What we need to build is courage, determination and performance. And if there is someone on the team who can't deal with a bit of change, if they are tooooo sensitive and it would upset them, they are in the wrong game.

    Too damn sensitive. Too damn weak.

    I'm moving to Australia, you can be proud of that team.

  • Comment number 99.

    i think that harmison should be kept in the 11 as we could use him to attack the aussies by bowling balls where the have to either be forced to play a shot the didnt want to play or having to get out of the way of the ball then if there rhythm has been lost thats where broad/onions/anderson maybe sidebottom and freddie if they play take control because there bowlers in the last test made us play how they want to us play

  • Comment number 100.

    Team to win at Oval



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