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Ponting left laughing as England get the script wrong

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Tom Fordyce | 17:23 UK time, Sunday, 9 August 2009

After England's farcical performance in the first two days of the fourth Test, there was more than a faint whiff of Dad's Army about Headingley when defeat was sealed on Sunday.

First came the apocalyptic warnings about the rest of the series - "We're doomed - doomed!" Then came the frantic call to arms for the aged and infirm, in this case 39-year-old Mark Ramprakash and the retired Marcus Trescothick. Then, as everyone remembered that it's actually 1-1 rather than 0-4, Andrew Strauss took on the role of Corporal Jones: "Don't panic, Mr Mainwaring!"

All the while, the beaming smile never left Ricky Ponting's face.

Punter has enjoyed himself in Leeds from the moment he arrived. The fact that a full-on English autopsy is now being conducted by the fans and media just makes it even sweeter for him.

"Ah, that's obviously all started, so for us that's terrific," he said with satisfaction in his post-match news conference.

Ponting could not hide his delight in Australia's win"It'll be difficult for them to bounce back now. Everything is heading in the right direction for us at exactly the right time in the tour."

Strauss, red-cheeked and heavy of heart, did his best to pacify the angry hordes. "I'm never going to make excuses for the way we played on the first morning - the reality is that the first session was awful."

What went wrong? "It's hard to put my finger on it." Has the momentum decisively swung back Australia's way? "I'm yet be convinced it means anything, that word."

If it wasn't quite keep calm and carry on, it was certainly keep calm and carry on picking the majority of the players again. If they were good enough to win at Lord's three weeks ago, goes the reasoning, they are good enough to beat Australia again.

Strauss would not be drawn on specifics - Ramprakash included - but intimated that there would not be wholesale changes for the final and deciding Test at The Oval.

Rather than root-and-branch reform, it's more likely that there'll be a little pruning, particularly in the misfiring middle order. England's top five batsmen have together scored only a couple of runs more than the last five in the batting order, and no team can expect to get away with that sort of lopsidedness for long.

A lot of it will come down to the fitness of Andrew Flintoff. Strauss admitted that in retrospect he would have liked an extra batsman at Leeds but had been more concerned in the build-up about taking 20 wickets. With a healthy Flintoff in the team, he can have both.

Flintoff is due to see his specialist on Monday. No-one in the England camp will be drawn about the severity of the knee problem this time around, although Ponting seems to think it's a "two-week" problem.

Strauss will want to know either way a lot sooner than he did here. He refused to blame the chaotic early hours of Friday for the batting carnage that followed, but made it clear that there could be no repeat of the last-gasp fitness test that saw Flintoff ruled out on the morning of the match this time around.

While the battle this summer has been fought in remarkably civil conditions, Sunday also saw the issue of espionage brought into the campaign for the first time.

The "spy", in this case, was Justin Langer, his so-called dossier on the England players' weaknesses the talk of the bars as the home side subsided to their innings defeat.

Captain Strauss was quick to defend his troops from the accusations that they were, variously, prone to cowardice, egotistical and lazy. "It's not of great interest to us," he said. "When you cross that white line, anything that's written on paper doesn't matter."

Ponting simply smiled and stuck the boot in again. "I knew most of it anyway. I'm sure the rest of the boys read every single word."

Ramprakash didn't merit a mention on Langer's list, although it would be interesting to see what observations Langer might make about a man who averages 27 across more than 50 Test matches and whose last appearance on the big stage involved dancing around in a sequinned satin shirt.

That Ramps is being mentioned at all serves only to highlight the paucity of options open to Strauss. At least Captain Mainwaring had the youth of Private Pike to call on.

Sadly for Strauss, county cricket is not producing the sort of battle-hardened recruits who look ready for international ding-dongs.

Jonathan Trott has a fine average this season, but county insiders say that has as much to do with the batting paradise that is the Edgbaston strip as it is anything else. As for the bowlers, the gulf between Steve Harmison's displays for Durham and England suggest that wickets in Division One are a rather cheaper currency than at the highest level.

"It's amazing how quickly things can turn around in this game," said Ponting cheerfully on Sunday night.

Unfortunately for England, he was referring to what has already gone on this summer, not what he expects to happen in two weeks' time.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Fair play though. Beaten in 2 1/2 days by a spent force. Selection was a bit iffy by having 5 bowlers when 4 is enough at Headingly but it wouldn't have mattered how many bolers or batsmen we had. We were rubbish. Bopara for the chop for certain.

  • Comment number 2.

    I am wholly unimpressed with the £75 to see a session and 20 minutes of play. Given that this was day three, even at Headingley, one wouldn't expect this to be a "punt". Does anyone care that people shelled out large sums of money expecting a day's play?

  • Comment number 3.

    Bell and Bopara - I am lost for words. But the problem, no real good alternatives. Looking at Jonathan Trott, he doesn't really inspire confidence in you that he is up to the job. Australia to knock the stuffing out of us and win the Ashes 2 - 1. Aura or no aura, we are the second best to them by million miles.

  • Comment number 4.

    the reason england fans found that performance depressing is not because it was so poor but it was just so familiar. i am convinced that bopara is exposed by the team as much as by his own inexperience, bell is just not what the side needs as we continue to slumber around post 2005 - we just dont have those gritty fighters like thorpe, robin smith, hussain, atherton - if you replaced bell with a top of his game gp thorpe we would be fine, a decent side.

    australia are loving this because they knew that england could capitulate in such a way, and because they probably didnt think they had it in them to break us down.

    i am in total belief that, come the oval test, the first hour of play will engulf both sides and what happened up to that point will become irrelevant, apart from the fact that it is up for grabs.

  • Comment number 5.

    As England, we need to get over our mental block when it comes to dropping players out of form. We also need to realise that in big games & series we need to pick a side to win - not to 'develop youngsters' or 'maintain the togetherness of the squad'. It should not matter one jot about a player's age when selecting the best side to win. Do you ever hear Sir Alex Ferguson or Fabio Capello talk about players being too old to play for their sides? No, they pick the best sides to win any given match. Giggs & David James will continue to play as long as they are good enough. It does not matter if younger players get 'upset' about being left out - if they are good enough they will get another chance.

    So in selecting the team for the Oval England must pick the best side with the best chance of winning that game - nothing else matters. As anyone watching county cricket will tell you, Ramprakash has been the best batsman in the country for the past 4 years, so why not pick him?

    Bopara & Bell will certainly be back if their confidence recovers; but at the moment it is shot, and I cant see how selection of either can be justified for the final test if England are serious about picking the best side to win.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm assuming Flintoff will play at the Oval. My team would be.


  • Comment number 7.

    What is it about English sporting fans? Sportsmanship is not "booing" when your team has been defeated by the opposition. Nor is it about "dissing" your team when they are down. Support your team and be gracious in defeat. Stop the whinging and whining

  • Comment number 8.

    Sorry not ramps for me, the guy is a great county player but we need to move forward not go back. But I do get the thinking, pick the form players.

    I do believe that we should look at the form players at the moment, so payers like Key and Trott are bandied about, but there is no mention on Michael Carberry. In top form at the mo, but not sure how the rose bowl has been playing this year? But he looks the business when I watched him play the other day, imposing at the crease at that really is something we lack in that middle order with KP injured.

    Good luck to the aussies, they really deserved it, bowled good line and length and batted appropriately. Think England need to get some practice up there before we play another test there, two in two years same mistakes.

  • Comment number 9.

    Well done the Aussies for their clinical win. They have the momentum and are all finidng form.

    I still think England can win it especially if Flintoff plays a blinder at the Oval. What a swansong that would be!

  • Comment number 10.

    Couldn't agree more, Nelliewoman. Yes, England were poor but let's give the Aussies some credit (and respect) for a very good performance. Let's stop all this nonsense about making wholesale changes, alot of which, incidentally, is fuelled by the media. Let the guys prepare for the Oval and may the best side win. And finally can we please stop whingeing.

  • Comment number 11.

    Oops, sorry, should be nellienewman.

  • Comment number 12.

    There can be no argument about the Aussies having been the better team in the fourth test, despite some courageous batting by Broad and Swann. However, the behaviour of the crowd at Hedingley on the last day - booing, as they did, every move of the Australian players - was appaling. What has happened to the British ethic of fair play and decent behaviour. Has the game been infiltrated by yob followers of other sports? The Barmy Army were amusing at one stage, and certainly provided good support for English. But whether there is a place for their loutish behaviour is debateable. What a shame it is that the English cricket authorities have put up with this based, as I suspect, on liquor sales!

  • Comment number 13.

    team should be

    We don't need Broad if Flintoff is back, but there's as much chance of them picking me as there is dropping golden boy. He's a bit like beckham was in the old days, undroppable, but nobody really knows why. Can't see why they keep picking him really. He did well today but only when the pressure was off, as does Ian bell

    Imagine Key and Collingwood 3 and 4, that seems pretty solid to me. Ian Bell is never a 3 or 4 in a million years.

  • Comment number 14.

    So Australia are millions better than England yet its still 1-1? England fans seem to revel in critising the team when they are down. England were dreadful and theres no hiding but the first morning killed us.It did swing a bit and everthing went right for the aussies all england knicked went to hand( Norths catch 1 in 20) coupled with some stupid shots. When the aussies batted they rode their luck with edges through the slips initially but when they got in it was a good wicket ( england tailenders showed this today?)England were well beaten today but its not over yet

  • Comment number 15.

    I think there are two separate selection issues for England. First, to pick the best possible team that has a chance to win the last test, and then to decide how to go forward from there. The tour of SA will be very difficult, but after that things ease up quite a bit with Bangladesh and then Pakistan on the menu. That would be the time to introduce some new players, but the danger, of course, is that we get more mediocre talents establishing themselves in the team against weaker opposition. Could we not hire Duncan Fletcher back as a talent spotter? He seemed to have a knack for identifying quality.

    I would not pick a debutant for the Oval. I would either stick with the batsmen we have or pick Ramprakesh. I would like to see Ramps fill in for KP as senior batsman just until he gets back--hopefully just this one game but the SA tour if necessary.

    Other than that, there's certainly room for a couple of new batsmen to become part of the set up, but no one seems to be able to pick between seven or eight possible contenders. Adgen te current policy that any new player desreves a decent run in the side, we could be in danger of

  • Comment number 16.

    You currently have batsmen who are like rabbits staring into headlights, 10 days aint going to change that.

    Ramprakash, Key then Collingwood ( he does show bottle even if Leeds was a mess and his technique isnt too good but if I had to drop 2, it would be Bell and Bopara).

    As for the bowling, one of the main reasons the Aussies undid us was because they bowled something called line and length.

  • Comment number 17.

    A couple of injuries has really exposed the difference between the 2 teams in terms of depth... maybe England could borrow Brad Hodge to make a game of it

  • Comment number 18.

    It was a loss by a huge margin but what matter -it's still only a single lost match and doesn't count double or treble so if the Aussies become arrogant and assume the series is as good as won then they could be in for a shock come the Oval. On the batting front, just bring in Key at 3, keep Bell at 4, drop Bopara down to 5 and drop Colly altogether! The bowling is the real concern, England have to win to regain the Ashes so 20 wickets are a must. I would play Sidebotttom instead of Broad and Panesar for Swann- the quicker Oval wicket would suit him plus the Aussies seem to be able to play Swann with a stick of rhubarb at the moment. The bowling attack would then be Anderson, Harmy, Onions, Sidey and the Panman (an attack for all seasons). Alternatively, you can keep Colly at 6 and drop Onions but I wouldn't. We must NOT pick bowlers for their ability to score runs and back our batsmen to perform, and hopefully the South London crowd will cheer them on their way to the crease, instead of booing the opposition (a pathetic and ghastly novelty this summer). The cricketing gods might then be on our side and history made!

  • Comment number 19.

    Oh yeh I forgot about that Flintoff guy- well if he is fit he has to be declared fit at least three days before so that preparation for the test is not disrupted like it has been the last two tests. He can replace Harmy no sweat and then the Ashes are definitely ours! Bingo!

  • Comment number 20.

    It's not rocket science.

    Compare the averages of the English batsmen and bowlers to the Aussie counterparts and this sort of no contest shouldn't be a surprise, the Aussies simply have better players. The only surprise is its taken this long for a result like this.

    England's bowling attack is reasonable, their batting lineup is absolutely terrible, surely the worst of the major test countries.

  • Comment number 21.

    So where should i start after witnessing the shambles of Headingly. Bell, Bopara and Harmy should all go. Harmy should not be recalled again, we should not be living in the past and pick players that have an international future. And Bopara and Bell should as they don't have the technique and temperment for the international game. This is why we should choose between Key, Trott and Denley. They have got runs this season and they would be able to come in with runs behind each of them. While Fred or Harmy should come in for Hamry. So the team should be.

    Cook, Strauss, Key, Trott, Collingwood, Prior, Fred, Broard,Sid, Jimmy Swann

  • Comment number 22.

    Get Ramprakash in on his home ground and plead with Trescothick to make one final appearance at the Oval, no way can England go in with Bopara and Bell at 3 an 4.

    Bopara is a class one-day player and could be a good test 5 or 6 but is no number three, his technique is simply not solid enough. Bell has had his chances, admittedly much like Ramps in the past, but sport has a habit of conjuring up these kind of scenarios - perhaps at the age of 39 this could be one last chance of glorious redemption for Ramprakash's unfulfilled test career.

  • Comment number 23.

    has got to say Ramprakash is playing in the second divison with no class bowlers in it. Also it is a backwards step at his age

  • Comment number 24.

    We have got we deserve.
    Andy Flower isn't the real deal, Strauss is a good player but not a great captain and the selectors are stuck in a rut perpetuating the view that it's not a good idea to chop and change the side.
    Change is good especially if you pick players who are in form and full of confidence.
    It's been pretty clear that Bopara can't buy a run, Bell is a shadow of his former self, Colly had one courageous innings but we can't keep on relying on his true grit to salvage some mid order batting pride.
    In essence our middle order is a soft as butter (especially with no KP).
    So England should make some serious changes.
    There's been alot of negativity aboput Broad and I confess his bowling hasn't been good enough but if we promote him up the order he has proven that his got more bottle than some of our so called established batsmen.
    As a bowler he becomes the third or fourth option.
    Why the selectors didn't go with Trott is a complete mystery.
    As an aisde I also feel that the Sky commentary teams are over protective of England to a point where it's somewhat nauseating.

  • Comment number 25.

    Bell should play at 5/6 its his best position
    Bopara should play for Essex a bit more or against WIndies.

  • Comment number 26.

    1) Flintoff has already had more steroid injections in his right knee than normal. The fact that he wasn't allowed one before Headingley speaks volumes. To pump any more into him would be irresponsible - he already risks being crippled in middle age.

    2) Tresco has repeatedly stated that he is not up to the pressure of international cricket. Those who call on him to "play a one-off for his country" are indulging in emotional blackmail. Stop it.

    3) By pulling Bell and Harmison back into the squads, the selectors made a rod for their own backs. Neither should be let anywhere near an England squad again. Sticking Bell in at #4 just added to the pressure on Bopara.

    The Oval.

    Throw out the guys who've had more drinks at the last chance saloon than I've had hot dinners - 3 above

    Give up on the ones whose health is at risk 1) & 2) above

    Don't pick players who have had a bad season - Panesar

    Pick some guys who have absolutely nothing to lose - eg Key, Ramps. They will know it is a one-off.

  • Comment number 27.

    Right...lets start to focus our constant moaning on supporting England for the next test match.
    Up until this test, we were the better team and this Australian side is not invincible....they too can crumble under pressure like we did on Friday Morning.
    I went yesterday and seriously dont like the mental application of Boparra and Bell. KP and Freddie have the right to be arrogant, they are that good, but this pair dont....conclusion.....drop both.
    Freddie will return and Rob Key to play at Three. Simple. We will have to stick with Harmison as The Oval will suit him. When he gets it right....boy does it frighten them!
    Lets go to battle with the Aussies a week on Thursday and make it a game to remember.
    Its a briliant series and I think Straus and the boys will leave us wearing big smiles on our faces in two weeks time!

  • Comment number 28.

    re #27.

    The Oval will suit Harmison? Have you checked his figures for the Oval Test of 2005 ?

    Do some research next time

  • Comment number 29.

    We could do a lot worse than play Ed Joyce, he's having a great year down at sussex!!

  • Comment number 30.

    Reference number 28.......Eccles 45..You talk about doing research!

    Do yours properly for both County and Test Cricket and you can swallow humble pie pal.

    Your comment is based upon one innings. He got a six wicket hawl there in 2004 and bowlers like him, comparable to Devon Malcolm can destroy a team!

  • Comment number 31.


    You are quoting a 6 wicket haul (note the spelling) 5 years ago. Gordon Bennett !!!

  • Comment number 32.

    The forth test display was rubbish, and Boards purformance was when he was not under pressure. My team for the fifth test would be:

    Strauss (c)

    If flintoff plays rashid in for onions, but onions as well rashid if flintoff aint

  • Comment number 33.

    A bit off-course but should the Aussies bring back Bret Lee for the Oval because he should be fit now. Dare they change a winning formula? He is very destructive on a good day though and will surprise the England batsmen with a new bowler to face so he should do well as they haven't had a chance to suss him out yet.

  • Comment number 34.

    re: 32

    So you are going to

    1) put Ian "Mitchell Johnson's bunny" Bell in at #3, when he couldn't take the pressure at #4.

    2) Play Flintoff. With or without injections?

    3) Play a 2nd spinner - at the Oval ?

  • Comment number 35.

    Eccles45..........And you are quoting a statistic from four years ironical to blow your own argument!

    Having to resort to analyse a typo error when not having the grace to admit you are wrong is hilarious!

    Lets leave it there....this could go on a long while!

  • Comment number 36.



    1) I was contradicting your comment that the Oval suited Harmison by pointing out that he was not very successful against the Aussies in 2005

    2) You then tried to ridicule my i-innings example from 2005 by giving - another 1 innings example from even earlier.

    3) I then tried a bit of sarcasm - which went right over your head.

    I'm sorry, but the Harmison of 2004/5 is not the Harmison of 2009. Very sad but very true. I wish he could be relied upon to "blow sides away", but he can't. At Headingley, he never used his brains, bowled consistently too short. Even on a pitch which folk insist did not suit him, he could still have done something about his length.

  • Comment number 37.

    im disgusted tht some are still calling for broad 2 be dropped so 6 wickets and and a 60 something as a tailender is not good enough then its getting a little pethetic now so we drop our best bowler and add a anouther bowler like sidebottom who hasent been in the team for a while thts good thinking how about we just give the urn 2 the aussies and wave them off as they go bak 2 australia laughing there heads off at us.

  • Comment number 38.

    re 37

    Feeling in a right awkward mood now I am being shot at, may I asksomebody please translate this into English :-)

    I presume that these forums (fora?) do not charge per character as (say) Vodafone used to do for SMS. Perhaps the poster is practising for Twitter

  • Comment number 39.

    re 38

    no i was not taking a shot at you lol im just trying to put a point across
    as for practising for twitter what the hell are you talking about

  • Comment number 40.

    Spot on Eccles45, #26. Agree 100% with everything you wrote except perhaps the Ramps suggestion.

    Carberry, who seems to have flourished under Duncan Fletcher this year, or Denley at Kent to replace Bopara at 3 then Trott to come in for Bell at 4.

    Sidebottom for Harmison in the bowling attack and maybe even Swann dropping out for A.N.Other but unlikely as neither Rashid or Panesar in any sort of form.

  • Comment number 41.

    My issue(s):
    Day 2 £50 west stand (£3.50 a pint, 4 cans of Coke Zero confiscated and binned)
    Sat through woeful, brainless bowling. Australia tuck in just about all day - Swann and Broad the only bowlers who didn't appear to think they were part of an early 80s West Indies attack bowling in the West Indies. England bat, begin promisingly - Australia bowl sensibly nick a couple of wickets - out of form England top order crumble. Go home depressed.

    Incidentally the bars should be left open until after the close of play as queueing gives those worse for wear something to do. (They get bored on the stands and get up to mischief)

    Day 3 £75 Rugby Stand (£3.50 a pint)

    Great view, super seats - expecting about an hour's play. Depressed by £75 with no prospect of a full day or any refund on day 3 of a test match.
    Hilf and Johnson bowl well, couple of wickets go down.
    Siddle and Clark have a crash course (a few tips from our lads?) in dire half tracker bowling and get flayed around in a astonishingly enjoyable morning session. Broad and Swann get out either side of lunch, resistance ends 20 (?) minutes into session 2.

    Naff booing of Ricky (more reason to boo our players) delighted to hear Andrew explain that they didn't turn up (if only they'd said before I bought my tickets).

    I am whinging, but feel I have every right. Had England played even vaguely intelligently I'd not complain at all. I don't really worry too much about who wins, as long as it's competitive.

    As I mentioned to a group of Aussies in the Original Oak - may the 2nd best team win at The Oval.

  • Comment number 42.

    I agree with those who are against Tres and Ramps. Tres has said again and again he is retired. It's like the Aussies trying to get Warne back back at the start of the series. There is no chance. The same with Ramps - it makes us a laughing stock to try to get players back who have proved time and again they didn't have the step up needed for International cricket. Ramps has had his chance. I would go for someone who deserves his chance like that guy who scored a ton for the England Lions earlier in the summer - Moore. If you score a ton and still don't get picked then whats the point in playing? Key and Trott would be up for selection too. I think the selectors have an easy decision to make as surely Bopara and Bell must be ditched. Cricket is quite a mind game and there are guys in the England team like Bell/Bopara who are beaten before even bowl is bowled.

  • Comment number 43.

    I am staggered about Strauss' excuse that "we just did not turn up". How can you not bother to turn up when you could win the Ashes by winning the Test. It makes you wonder what goes on the minds of England's players. In many sports, you see players perform wonderfully well until the prize comes into view and then they fall in a heap. This is what is happening to the English players now. They now have to win the last test...if things don't go their way or if the weather threatens they'll probably panic. Australia will go for the win but a draw is a nice backup to have.

    And again, a hearty THANKYOU from Australia to whoever held up that sign outside the team bus on the 5th morning in Edgbaston ("Thanks for the Ashes Mitchell"). That fired him up just nicely.

  • Comment number 44.

    Don't see England making too many changes. If Flintoff is fit, he will probably come in for Harmi. Sidebottom may come in for Anderson if he is unfit. Otherwise no changes on the bowling department.
    On the batting side I will be surprised if Bopara plays. Probably Trott will come in his place, with Bell and Colli getting the promotion. Not sure that will work though, but don't see England has any other option.

  • Comment number 45.

    #21 "While Fred or Harmy should come in for Hamry."

    Calm down and carry on!

  • Comment number 46.

    they should bring back marcus trescothick exclusivly for the final test. he can help england win and what a way it would be for such a true ledgend to retire from test cricket. My team for the oval,
    1. Cook
    2. Trescothick
    3. Strauss
    4. Bell
    5. Collingwood
    6. Prior
    7. Flintoff (if fit, if not broad)
    8. Broad
    9. Swann
    10. Anderson
    11. Onions
    12. Harmison if Flintoff unfit

  • Comment number 47.

    Our bowling is not the problem: it's been reasonably good over the series, and I don't agree with those who advocate dropping Broad (even though his good performance in this test came only once the pressure was off). The Oval should have pace and bounce, which will suit Harmison and Flintoff, and Swann will be an important factor in the second innings. Hopefully Jimmy Anderson will get over whatever physical problem he had in this test, and there will be some cloud cover for he and Onions to get some swing. I feel sure that we can take 20 wickets.

    The batting, however, is disastrous. The bottom five have scored nearly as many runs as the top five over the series (something like 930 to 910). Bopara is just not up to it: it's not as if he's some wide-eyed newbie - he's been in the England setup for years (remember the Sri Lanka game at the World Cup in earl 2007?) He seems a flat-track bully - useful against dead wood, useless against high-class opposition; and mentally weak as well, given how often he throws away his wicket.

    Bell reminds me of a terrified little mouse, surrounded by streetwise, sledging Australian cats; I actually feel sorry for him when I see him walking in to bat, as I might for a bullied runt walking into school. And what about Cook? He has gotten steadily worse since his test debut some years ago now. Time for a change.

    Trescothick to open with Strauss. Don't announce it until the day before so the pressure won't be able to build up on the guy. Make it clear that it's a one-off thing, to keep his mind at ease: no gruelling tours, just five days of cricket at home.

    Ramprakash in at 3. He's 39 but clearly in great shape and great form. Forget "planning for the future" - this is the Ashes, here and now, and we must pick the best today, not potentially in 2012.

    Vaughan in at 4. Again, a last hurrah against the old enemy; Vaughan has several centuries against them, and led England magnificently in 2005. You can be sure that the Aussies would rather face Bell than him.

    Collingwood stays at 5. He's not particularly talented, but grittily makes the most of it, and I would be very surprised if he throws away his wicket at The Oval. A great fielder, experienced, and good, fighting attitude (markedly unlike Bell and Bopara).

    Oh, and if Jimmy Anderson doesn't make it, get Hoggard in there. The way he was discarded last year after a single bad performance was disgraceful, and he deserves redemption.

  • Comment number 48.

    Bopara out - he will have zero confidence now
    Bell - still looks iffy
    Collingwood - not good series so far

    Pick a team to win, they have to so have nothing to lose.

    Tresco and vaughan are never going to come out of retirement in a million years but Ramps is available.


    twelth man - Anderson and if someone is injured maybe a surprise recall for Hoggy !

  • Comment number 49.

    babyzblob - do you remotely remember the Ashes in the 1990s at all? Do you remember Ramprakash and co being thrashed on a regular basis, each time failing to deal with the mental pressure?

    Why now, a decade after his prime years, would Ramprakash be an improvement on a young player in his first Ashes series, Bopara, who at least has the defence that he is on a learning curve?

    We're at 1-1 after 4 Tests against the best side in the world. Despite the fact that we have lost our two stand-out talents during the course of the series, we remain just one decent performance away from the ultimate achievement in English cricket.

    So lets cut all this nonsense of Ramprakash (perennial Test failure), Trott (average county journeyman) or Trescothick (he's retired!), and remember that a few weeks ago we comprehesnively beat Australia at Lords. It doesn't take much to turn a series as Headingley proved. No reason why it can't be turned back in our favour.

  • Comment number 50.

    jovialmatty1111 - does it save you an awful lot of time writing '2' rather than 'to'?

    It reads beautifully, if only more people treated the English language the way you do.

  • Comment number 51.

    Aggers and Fordyce are spokespersons for the nation when it comes to cricket yet they continually fail to address the key issues. Here the key issue is not whether Ramprakash should play at the Oval but rather who he should replace. There is no doubt Ramprakash has been the best batsman in the country (by a mile) for several years. If the ECB used a Ryder Cup system of selection then he would have been in the side for years. There is clearly an ageist agenda. If I were Ramps I would sue! Get rid of Aggers. How can he say Key is a better player?

  • Comment number 52.

    The optomists who say that England haven't done too badly (as it's 1-1) seem to conveniently be forgetting our pretty dire performance in Cardiff where we were totally outplayed with bat and ball. It was only the sterling efforts of Collingwood, Anderson and Panesar that saved England. Poor play from England in this test is therefore nothing new.

    England should seriously consider bringing Ramps into the side at 3 and resting Bopara for the Oval Test. It's risky but no guts, no glory! Also we need a second spinner so that means either Panesar or Rashid (probably Panesar) in for Harmison.

  • Comment number 53.

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

  • Comment number 54.

    OK so we lost the fourth test it is not the end of the world and the series is finely balanced at 1-1. Why all the negative comments about England get behind the team and support them people were only to happy to praise them as heroes after the third test win then suddenly they are are all rubbish and not worth their places. As for recalling the cricketing pensioners forget it ! The only person that needs to be replaced in the batting line up is Bopara he has had a poor series thus far.

  • Comment number 55.

    I have now read that Flintoff declared himself fit, but Strauss and the English management turned him down. Freddie then did not show his face at Headingley during the match at all.

    Were England's bowlers actually bowling to plan? I remember Broad in either the 1st or 2nd Test bowling far too short (his father was furious and the commentators on TMS were bemused) at the behest of Strauss. It is difficult to believe that all the pacemen played that badly all at the same time. In the interviews Strauss lamented the bowling but never explicitly said they "bowled too short".

    The margin of defeat may prompt calls for big changes but the tactics were at fault here. Look at yesterday. In the morning Broad and Swann got the Aussie's rattled and their bowlers pitched the ball shorter and shorter and the runs piled up. Then lunch, and the bowling attack pitched up and game over.

    How badly is Anderson injured? If the hamstring is torn, then its a no no show for the Oval. Flintoff to replace him. Harmison will be lethal at the Oval, but the problem is to which side? I am inclined to give Bopara another chance but Collingwood has been poor for some time now and Bell I do noy know. Batting is such a mental game and these guys are not happy bunnies - is there unrest in the dressing room perhaps?

  • Comment number 56.

    Re: The_third_Ronaldo

    If Trott is a mere journeyman then god help the rest of the players in county cricket! (Excepting the honourable Ramps from the 2nd division)
    A bunch of boozy plonkers couldn't have done a lot worse than the England team that allegedly turned up for the 4th test.
    The B's (bell + bopara) just don't produce any kind of honey at test level. They should be released back into the comfort zzone of county cricket where they can join Ramps on the matey circuit.
    Bring on Trott - he'll get lots of runs and even if Freddy has just joined the amputee ranks, he's still worth at least a punt.
    Harmless is as convincing as a gagged delboy - flattering to deceive.
    Unless there's a place for mr key in the slips, he won't terrify the Aussies in the field and he's far to nice a bloke to unsettle the Ozzies. In fact, I would choose at least 2 blokes who are fiercesome sledgers and put them in the slips to torment the Oz batsmen - couldn't do any harm...

  • Comment number 57.

    England have had two bad Tests, one of which they saved. Australia also have had two bad Tests, one they lost badly and came nowhere near to saving the other. In fact, if nearly two days hadn't been lost to rain at Edgbaston, they would now be 1:2 down in the series. So, why are England suddenly no-hopers and Australia favourites to win at the Oval? Apart from typical Australian bulls***, and media ignorance, there is no logic to it. There is no such thing as "momentum" in cricket. If there were, England would have slaughtered the Aussies at Headingly. Think about it! Out of these two very ordinary Test sides, the winner will be the one holding its nerve at the Oval. Unlike England on the first day of Headingly, and Australia on the third day.

  • Comment number 58.

    Supposing Flintoff is fit, my team;

    I confess I've seen Carberry play only in T20, but what a confident attitude, the major ingredient England is in dire need of. I have never seen Trott/Denly/Hildreth play and so here, I am only saying Colly is replaceable. Panesar sneaks in if the pitch dictates a second spinner. I think it does.

  • Comment number 59.

    Lets face it Australia are not a great side, not by any stretch of the imagination. They should have won in Cardiff but they didn't they avoided defeat in the third test due to the weather and they won the fourth test so why all the gloom and doom from England supporters ?? The series is up for grabs at the Oval come on lets see some support for the home team.

  • Comment number 60.

    Anyone have any thoughts about The Oval pitch? I'm not sure there's been anything but draws there in first-class cricket this summer, and Strauss said he wouldn't be asking the groundsman to prepare anything to order. Some ex-players here in Leeds are suggesting that England's best chance is to prepare a dry, dusty turner, since that would suit them more than Australia and make a result more likely.

  • Comment number 61.

    I still see comments ( from thosknapp and others ) that say we would habve won at Edgbaston... well if you think we would have successfully chased 300 or more in the fourth innings you might be right but my money would have been on Ricky's boys, they were in control when play ended.

  • Comment number 62.

    They should prepare the Oval pitch for spin. It might be worth going with Swann and Panesar and dropping one or two swing bowlers. If my memory serves me right The Oval is suited for aggressive fast bowling as well. But the Oval is a 450+ pitch and can our batters reach that?

  • Comment number 63.

    Tom Fordyce wrote:

    "If it wasn't quite keep calm and carry on, it was certainly keep calm and carry on picking the majority of the players again. If they were good enough to win at Lord's three weeks ago, goes the reasoning, they are good enough to beat Australia again."

    Not sure if that is your comment or Strauss's but it's wrong the team that lost this test was not the same as Lords. Flintoff and Pietersen played the Lords match and England won.

  • Comment number 64.

    England need to work on the mentality of some players in build up to Oval Test, it's very concerning how both bowlers and batsmen averages drop alarmingly against Australia comapred with other countries.

    Bopara needs to be rested for Oval match and Rob Key seems the best replacement for him

  • Comment number 65.

    It would have been better for Enland if Flintof and his agent had been honest from the start and not played. The same for Pieterson.
    They both had a choice the IPL or gt fit for the Ashes they made their choice the IPL.
    Flowers and Struss should have been stronger and told them the ashes is out you are not fit.
    The team for the oval should be young and fit. The biggest mistake England has made in this series is hanging on to the old boys of 2005 who have proved to be unfit or out of form. This series has been nothing but a retirement fund for te 2005 boys. One last hooray and all that.
    Winning the series was second place perhaps even third.

  • Comment number 66.

    As for the bowlers, the gulf between Steve Harmison's displays for Durham and England suggest that wickets in Division One are a rather cheaper currency than at the highest level.


    And therein lies the problem. Our best talent in the county game is spread out between EIGHTEEN counties. The two tier championship has made no difference because a full third of the teams involved get promoted or relegated each year, relegation means nothing. That spread means that there are far too many in the game who are decent pros but nothing more.

    By contrast the Aussies have only SIX top class teams, meaning only 30-40 batsmen can really be regulars compared to 100-150 in England. For a batsman this means you need to work harder and play better, for a bowler it is a much bigger challenge. Of course it works the same the otehr way around as well.

    Until we actually have a national structure capable of picking out the best players and exposing them to quality week in week out we will continue to produce players who get good averages but ultimately fail against quality opposition.

  • Comment number 67.

    edwardhh (message 46), darthblader (message 47) - is winning the Ashes so important that you bring in Trescothick and send a message to every other batsman in England that they aren't good enough?

    Trescothick has said time and time again that he's finished with international cricket, so let's leave him alone to enjoy himself with Somerset. Bringing him back now would be just as bad an idea as Australia trying to persuade Shane Warne to play in the final Test.

    Cricket moves on - they've had their chance. Let's find some new heroes.

  • Comment number 68.

    I think they should keep the batting line-up as it is (with the addition of Flintoff if he's fit). I disagreed with Bopara being appointed at number 3 but it's too late to change it now. The Oval is a batters pitch so let our middle order have a chance to prove themselves.

    I would tinker with the bowling so it suits the Oval pitch - I don't think swing bowlers get much luck there.

  • Comment number 69.

    The England batting "performance"?

    Supine collapse, abject display, execrable, wretched, hopeless, hapless. Or am I being a tad generous?

  • Comment number 70.

    flamecomponent @18: Have you not been watching the cricket this year? What we need at The Oval is a bit of backbone so Bopara has to go and Collingwood has to play.

    politeDJDave, edwardhh, DarthBlader: Ramps has proven that he doesn't have the Test mentality, has been given several chances and has failed. He shouldn't be at The Oval. Trescothick has repeatedly said he will never play for England again because he doesn't enjoy the stress. The Oval is going to be an absolute bearpit and he would die a thousand deaths out there. He is not going to be there so leave him alone.

  • Comment number 71.

    Tom@60: I don't understand why England won't be preparing a pitch to suit ourselves. The Aussies do it in their home tests, it's not against the rules. Why shouldn't we arrange something that will suit Swann and Rashid (I really think Panesar is third choice)?

  • Comment number 72.

    My goodness, how many English supporters are hanging on to the results from Ashes 2005? It is as if you think that what happened then can be repeated now. That was 4 years ago and many of those players who were part of Ashes 2005 were then responsible for the 5-0 loss in Australia 2006/7 and being the first team to lose a series against the West Indies for 7 or 8 years. Now it is 2009 and you expect certain players to play the same way as 2005 - ignoring their inglorious performances since then. Wake up to reality! The Aussies have lost Hayden, Langer, Martyn, Gilchrist, McGrath and Warne since the 2005 and 2006/7 series and they have proven inconsistent in many series since then vs India and South Africa. But they have simply moved on from the retirements of legends and begun developing a new team in the hope that they will succeed in the future - a new team of young bowlers (Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Johnson), a gritty wicket keeper who can score runs (Haddin), and batsmen who can score centuries (Katich, North and Clarke). The team is still developing and has good tests (Cardiff and Headingly) and bad tests (Lords), but at least they are not living in the past. Any calls for the recall of Trescothick, Vaughan and Ramprakash do nothing for the future of English cricket.

  • Comment number 73.

    Hackerjack- that is totally right - unfortunately the people being selected are the best players in county cricket. The county game no longer produces players capable of playing test cricket at a high level.

    The average bowlers make their figures look good by bowling to poor batsmen and the average batters do the same with the poor bowlers.

    But the format won't change because the people in charge will loose out.

  • Comment number 74.

    End central contracts its all too cosy. Pick the players in form not on contract

  • Comment number 75.

    people from England , just don't give up due to a lost test match.Most of the english fans don't realise that this series is at the moment drawn and you still have a match to go.Yes the performance was terrible but then did you'll expect the Aussies to just lie low and give up ? They were always going to come bak real strong and strong is how they came bak.You still have a game to play for so may the best team win.

  • Comment number 76.

    Every Aussie is simply loving the reaction by both fans and media over this performance. Yes it was a shocking performance by England but an overreaction plays into our hands. After Cardiff you wrote your team off. After Lords and Edgbaston you were going to thrash us. It's amazing how much changes after 1 test.

    For mine you probably need a couple of changes but not wholesale ones like people are saying. I don't know a lot about Trott but I know bringing a debutant into a team can provide some energy and spark and uplift everyone. Seeing his positive reaction and eagerness to impress can rub off. So likely Bopara or Bell to go.... I think you should drop Bell and play Bopara at 5 or 6. You should have listened to Warney from the start. Your problem is lack of an obvious replacement at number 3. Can Trott play a 3? Don't know him well enough.

    I have no doubt you'll pick Flintoff, fit or unfit. He'll want to play so you drop one of the bowlers, probably Harmison. At his best, no doubt a quality bowler but too mentally fragile. Either it's weak captaincy by Strauss by not telling him to pitch it up more or big Harmy simply not listening. Either way the short ball gets the odd wicket but line and length is the key.

    As for us, I'd stick with the same team. I know Lee is desperate to play but not sure who you'd take out. Not too concerned with Clark's 2nd innings.... the 1st innings proved his worth.

  • Comment number 77.

    It was a dreadful performance and with KP and Flintoff gone it shows how much we rely on them. I do believe the talent is there in the English game but to bring in a test debutant in a must win Ashes contest is putting a new talent under immense pressure to perform. I do not believe that it would be fair to expect someone to come in and heap all that pressure on them.

    Saying that the form and lack of quality shown in the last test is worrying. I would stick with the players chosen but certainly tweak the batting lineup and move Bopara down to 6.

    If England were to make changes, why not consider the following players as possibles;

    Carberry, Denly, Key and Adil Rashid. (All these guys have been playing with the Lions for some time...surely England have had a good look at them by now).

  • Comment number 78.

    I feel something being missed here about the england middle order

    since 2005 how many test series have england won against major opposition? am i right in thinking its just pakistan in 2006? since then we lost to india twice , south africa australia and had losses against minor nations such as west indies

    These middle order players havent just had a few bad tests, they've had a bad few years with averages inflated against poorer opposition. I see no reason why they shouldnt all go and have a middle order of key , ramprakash and trott (as hes the next man in)

    Whats more dissapointing is that the team wont get the major work it needs, they'll send in mostly the same team as collingwood and bell appear undroppable again and we'll lose , and the selectors who continue to pick dross year after year (like the pattinson selection last year) will still be there.

    not to try and cause some major debate here but is it right ashley giles is on the selection panel when he has so much history with some of these players?

  • Comment number 79.

    Hmm. if the Oval is a batters pitch, no point sending our lot there then!! shot, I know, but just reflects my disappointment.
    However, back to the issues.
    1) The ECB are killing "our" game with their disgusting money grubbing policies. The collective of Blazers will have been heartbroken, not at Englands loss, or the manner of it, but at the loss of revenue to a 2.5 day Test. The refund policy at Headingley was nothing short of thievery.
    You can therefore guarantee Tom, that the Oval will be a 5 day flat track,another "Bowlers graveyard"
    2)The abundance of young palyers waiting in the wings with balls of steel and hearts of oak. is a complete vindication of our County set up, and the squillions the ECB have poured in to youth development..isn't it?
    3) 16 "backroom" staff I believe England carry now.If headingley is the hiatus of their joint contribution to England's performance then I would say they are all justifiably well paid and secure in their roles..wouldn't you?
    4)Incomparable "Management skills"...during a warming game of football yet another crisis develops. and we might as well hang Andrew Strauss out to dry and let him do all those interviews 10 minutes before he puts his helmet on...Where was Andy Flower when his Captain needed his support most?
    5)I believe the bowling dept at Durham improved no end when Ottis Gibson left for England, and our batting coach allows our "top" batsmen to get themselves out in the same way, time and time again....hmmm??
    6) What happened to the Schofield report Tom? You have inside must know!!
    7)It's easy to make the players the main target, and they are culpable. But, as I've tried to highlight, they have monkeys on their backs that no other National sportsmen have to carry!!

  • Comment number 80.

    Whilst Ramprakash may not have cut it overall he did average just over 40 against Australia...

  • Comment number 81.

    This series Bopara has the 3rd worst batting average in the whole squad: the only people below him are Onions and Monty who both bat at 11.

    We now have a must-win one off match. How can anyone possibly think that selecting him is a good idea?

    Give him a rest and bring in some fresh blood. Then, with a bit of luck, Ravi can come back stronger, having been handed free membership of an Ashes-winning team.

  • Comment number 82.

    if i could pick any team for the next match regardless of if they are retired


    i thonk the oval would turn so rashid willl be an intersting pick also he strengthens the batting. i cannot choose between broad harmison and onions all seem to be average. though thw oval usually suits an up anddown bowler like harmison.

    the overiding worry is bell is just not good enough and keeps on proving it to me, and bopara is out of his depth at number 3. bringing new players in is not a risk cos the ones currently there aint up to much anyway!!!!!!

  • Comment number 83.

    I agree there is no need to panic. Bopara is obviously talented but his form and confidence are shot. The Aussies have worked out how to play everyone in the current team so I'd go with a wholesale changes at positions 3,4 & 5.

    We looked bereft of ideas at Leeds, & it was surprising to me that we didn't open with Onions on the 2nd day. I'd also have brought Swanny on very early to mix things up. At the Oval we need to have our plans B and C worked out well in advance....

  • Comment number 84.

    People here have already touched upon the relative paucity of top class talent in the county game, but when the selectors look at who they should bring in to the England side it strikes me that they don't look at the right criteria. So much of cricket is discussed with reference to statistics (eg. X has an average of Y in first class innings this season, therefore we must pick him), but if the Aussies have shown anything in the last match it's that cricket is not a game of statistics, it's a game of confidence.

    Why continually pick Bell or Harmison? It's down to statistics. Which kind of ignores the fact that anyone who's been watching the England team for the last few years knows that these two (and it's not just these two, I'm just using them as an example) cannot handle the pressure at the top any more. No amount of positive statements and sports psychology will get away from the fact that Bell, great county player though he is, has failed again and again and again at test level, yet he gets picked because he's scored some county runs for a county (Warks) that's not having the best of seasons (admittedly because of the rain). Similarly, Trott gets called up off the back of some big scores and some Not Outs.

    I'm not convinced that this alone is a reasonable selection policy. Surely we should ask: Are they fighters? When backed into a corner (which'll happen a lot at test level, especially for England) will they come out blazing, determined to scrap til the last ball is bowled? With Bell and Harmison we can surely say 'no', with Trott, 'maybe'. As for Ramprakash, come on, how likely is it that he's improved as a test player in the last seven years, even with all the amazing county runs he's scored?

    Langer was right about a lot of things, but his extended dig at Prior betrays the respect with which he holds him. I personally wish Prior's "massive ego" was contagious to the rest of the team.

    Take it to the Aussies, selectors! Pick players that want a fight!

  • Comment number 85.

    If England make changes enmasse for the final Test they will be playing right into the hands of the Aussies. When was the last time an England Test team in response to mass panic made lots of changes and actually won? It should also be remembered that quite often having been humiliated in a Test, England have often come out fighting for the next one with a point to prove and done well. England's best chance is to make as few changes as possible, probably Trott for Bopara and hopefully Flintoff for Harmison.

  • Comment number 86.

    # Tom
    What I've seen of Oval in the recent past, I'll say it is a pitch that offers a lot to good spinners. So have only three seamers. It is the prerogative of the home side to see that conditions suit them more than these do the visitors. This is the reason I would rather include Monty for Onions/Sidebottom. You can be sure Aussies will recall Hauritz, most likely at Clark's expense.
    It is a Test that needs to be won. The way to do it is with spin as a predominant weapon.

    England fans have been very obdurately and aggressively downgrading 20-20 as non-cricket, be it IPL or the T20 WC. They have been constantly harking back to Test cricket, and for them, its pinnacle the Ashes. Now if England fail to win at the Oval the last refuge they will be left with is only football, upcoming EPL et al.
    Do not give too many hoots to momentum, let Australia strut around for ten days. Exorcise the ghosts of Leeds. Have a sound plan and get a win. It is possible.

  • Comment number 87.

    From what I can see, players like Bell and Harmison bring down the team as much as the likes of KP and Freddie pick it up. For me these need to be the only 2 casualties as anymore would lead to complete lack of understanding and an embarassing score

    My team would be:

    That is assuming flintoff will be unfit, if not then put him at 7, take out sidebottom and move everyone else down.
    Ramps could never deal with the pressure, his average at international level is woeful, and putting him or Tresco in this situation would be putting too much on them.

  • Comment number 88.

    Some of the comments here have really amused me. Take no. 26 for example. They say that Bell, a player who has scored 8 Test centuries (including 199 against South Africa just a year ago), over 3000 Test runs and averages nearly 40 in Test cricket, should never be let near an England squad again. They then say that England should recall Mark Ramprakash, who hasn't played Test cricket for 7 years, averages 27 in Test cricket and managed just 2 centuries in 92 Test innings, on the basis that he's capable of hitting relatively weak county bowling attacks about a bit. It seems a little odd to declare that a 27-year-old with a reasonable Test record should be completely discarded forever and then suggest that a 39-year-old who's never performed at Test level should be brought back.

    Also quite funny is no. 47. Suggesting that players who have quite clearly stated that they have retired from Test cricket (Vaughan has retired from cricket altogether) should effectively be begged/coerced/emotionally blackmailed into returning for a one-off match? Shall we beg Graham Gooch and Geoffrey Boycott to return as well, as they have about as much chance of agreeing to play?

    Wholesale changes to the team are not what are needed for the final Test. Bring back Flintoff, probably for Harmison, and you'll have (minus Pietersen) the same team that beat Australia at Lord's. But, then again, everyone's forgotten about that match.

  • Comment number 89.

    If Tresco won't play, the selectors should just go ahead and pick Ramprakash. He's older, wiser and all that, and the way he's playing he could have two or three more years in him. Two years of his county form for England, through to the next Ashes, could take us right back up the Test rankings. 40 is not so old - I have no doubt the selectors would have kept Alec Stewart for a couple more years if he'd been up for it.

    You have to pick the best team from the players in form. Bell and Bopara are good players who might go on to be great players, but right now they're out of form and I can't see the pressure of a series decider helping them find the runs. England should screw this continuity rubbish and pick the players making the runs. Two men are - pick them.

  • Comment number 90.

    As I recall Ramps was mentioned a couple of winters ago as "Senior Cover" for a tour "if needed" and quite rightly he told the selection committee where to go. Either you are good enough to be playing for England or not. If I were Ramps I would tell them where to go again as all this smacks of desperation and I can't help feeling is a little insulting to the guy who has been consistently one of the top performers in county cricket for the last few seasons yet has been steadfastly ignored! Essentially the team and the selectors are in a hole and all these calls for Tresco Ramps et al are just papering over the cracks.

    I have said this time and time again.....

    Bell is NOT TEST CLASS and has already played too many matches in my view

    Bopara has been vaunted by the Essex Mafia (Hussain and Gooch) but away from the paradise piechuckers at Chelmsford is ordinary against the big boys.

    and if you REALLY REALLY wan't to boost the middle order and are just focused on this match as a one off then look no further than one CH Lloyd who had a test average 46.67..... but is now a UK passport holder and technically eligible he could strengthen the middle order AND teach strauss about captaincy....admittedly he is 61 but is no less a ridiculous suggestion than some on these pages

  • Comment number 91.

    I suspect the best thing Strauss and the rest of the squad could do is to take themselves off to premises belonging to an enclosed religious order (ideally one with big grounds where they can still practice!) to insulate themselves from an English media stuffed with ex-pros who, with honourable exceptions, were never good enough to play test cricket regularly themselves and love sticking the knife in on the current side. No wonder Ponting was looking happy; even after Lords I doubt if the Aussie media was anything like as destructively critical of their side as the English will be.

    As far as the Oval is concerned, my first fear is that England will play a quarter-fit Flintoff. He’ll be desperate to play and it will take real moral courage to refuse him with the media baying for his inclusion and quick to suggest that failure to pick him cost England the Ashes- even if he is palpably unfit. Hopefully Strauss will put his foot down over the nonsense surrounding Flintoff’s fitness and not picking the side until an hour before the toss and insist that he’s declared 100% fit for five full days play or ruled out at least 72 hours before the game .

    I really don’t think you can make half a dozen changes to the side at this stage in the series, tempting though it may be. Bopara has to go, even though one could say he was shade unlucky at Headingly (a rank bad decision on second innings and was I the only viewer who thought his first innings dismissal came from a no-ball?). Bell doesn’t inspire much confidence either but at least he’s an asset in the field. As for a replacement, Trott is clearly next man in the queue and deserves a go. Key has been tried and failed in the past (and having to hide two players in the field if Flintoff does play is going to be a stretch), ditto Ramprakash (who must have the most loyal fan club in the game). On the bowling side, surely Harmison has now definitively proved that he is never again going to be the force he was four or five years ago. Despite his advocates’ claims, I saw no evidence that he “scared” the Aussies (most of this side had never played against him at test level, after all, and playing bowlers on their reputation is not an Australian weakness). Sidebottom should come in if Flintoff or Anderson are unfit. I don’t see how one can drop Broad or Swann given the frailty of the batting (sorry, but I’m afraid that is relevant in my view- it’s not as if England are overloaded with alternatives anyway). I wish Rashid had been given a go against the West Indies but it’s too late now and he hasn’t had a great season at county level anyway.

    So my side would be (not necessarily in precise batting order)

    Flintoff (only if 100% fit)/Sidebottom

  • Comment number 92.

    Ramprakash? You are joking? He's ancient, not a good test player, and not a viable option. Don't say 'he's scored loads of runs in C.C', because he's playing in league 2, where the best bowlers are j.lewis and kirby!
    Play Trott, who's scored runs against half decent attacks in division 1, and also Hildreth or Carberry, who have also scored runs in that division. Bring in those for Bell & Bopara, who have proven that they don't have the stomach for the battle.
    If even one of those debutants succeed at the oval then England will have a decent batsmen going forward. No Key, Ramprakash or Trescothick thanks. Look to the future England selectors!!! 3 changes (including Flintoff back for the useless Harmison) is not pushing the panic button, it's seeing things for what they are. England need to give viable alternatives a chance with the bat, and what better chance for someone to make a name for themselves than at the Oval.
    I think i'd play;

  • Comment number 93.

    Feel sorry for Bopara, his form has gone the same way as Cook's now he's been mentored by 'wiggy' Gooch.

    I'd prefer another batsman at 7, but need an all rounder, so for me its Brezza or Rashid depending on the pitch:


    not even worth mentioning Bell and Harmison!!

  • Comment number 94.

    Unfortunately the problem stems from the county system. We have so many teams playing that it is a given that there are going to be some very average cricketers playing in these teams. That is what has enabled players like Hick and Ramprakash to pile on the runs for years, there are endless lifeless tracks and mediocre medium pace bowling. Players like Harmison look great at county level because of that. It's no co-incidence that the best players that Duncan Fletcher picked weren't necessarily successful at county level, i.e. Trescothick.

    Picking Trott because he's scored a lot of runs on the Edgbaston Road is a tough one, what else could he do I suppose? But any player with no test experience who is brought in for a deciding Ashes test is almost certainly going to freeze, it's a massively pressurized situation to be thrust into.

    A middle order of Bell and Bopara simple doesn't have the confidence or wealth of runs to intimidate an opposition. Bell looks beautiful when he bats, but does not have the application to bat all day. Our batsmen are so hell bent on scoring at 4+ an over that they have forgotten how to grind out an innings. Look at Marcus North and Michael Clarke. They do not swing at every ball outside off stump. They wait for the right ball to hit, and hit it with correct technique.

    Our Batsmen need to learn that they need to apply themselves not just when things are going well, but when things are going badly too. If two or three batsmen had done that during the last test and got slow, ground out 100s, we would have saved the match.

  • Comment number 95.

    And let me clarify, Hick and Ramps are obviously classy players, but their Test record speaks for itself, they murder bad bowling, but struggle against true top class bowling.

  • Comment number 96.

    That's not a bad selection at all. Good call on choosing Carberry, he's had a good season for Hants this year.

    At 11:49am on 10 Aug 2009, listentocommonsense wrote


  • Comment number 97.

    Strauss (C)

    Maybe not in that Order but I think on form these are the best available players. Surely the likes of Trescothick, Ramprakash and Key can do a better job than 16 runs in a game. As for the bowlers it is hard to say but i thinks that this bunch have had the edge over the Aussie batsmen enough times this series to do the job. The 2nd and 3rd test show we have it in them to do the trick plus the best other county alternative (Harmison) shows that he can not cut the mustard anymore at internationsl level.

  • Comment number 98.

    listentocommonsense: You would really give Test debuts in the weakest part of our side (the middle-order batting) to TWO players against a rampant Australia in an Ashes Cup Final? With respect, I don't believe your definition of common sense is quite the same as mine. IF you're going to hand out a Test debut in the toughest match of the year, make it Rashid because our bowling is strong (not that you would know it from Headingley) but could use some help in the spin department.

  • Comment number 99.

    Alright lads and ladies lets get real here England problem is that fact that they didn't pick a batsman to replace Freddie, they needed four boulers only they have the same four type of fast bowlers in Broad,Onions,harmison and Anderson.Now for the Oval if the selectors are capable of reading the game plan, its not the time for wholescale changes, so therefore please release Bell, in comes Carberry,Key although I understand he is not too much liked by the establishment,then Sidebotton offers some thing different like the Aussie's Johnson.Bell is not test material.The side therefore should be Struss Cook Key Boparo Carberry Collinwood Prior Broad Swann Anderson,If fit(Onions) Sidebottom. This is a no panic team they have to be involved in the game at all times.

  • Comment number 100.

    To the people saying Ramprakash is only scoring runs in league 2. Er that's right but what about the 3 years previous. In 2007 he averaged 100 and got 2000+ runs. That was in the might of division one and was the second season in a row he'd done it. Never matched. He did pretty well last year (agaisn division 1) when surrey got relegated (over 1600 runs at 75odd I think). He's been the best batsman for 4 years in both divisions.

    What's odd is people saying Ramps is only in division 2 and yet advocating Rob Key. He's 'only' in division 2 as well and has scored 600 runs less. If Ramprakash is not a test player then Rob Key is certainly not.


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