Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Variety is, of course, the spice of life and it's also fair to say that England's seam attack, shorn of its two most reliably accurate proponents were fairly woeful at Lords. Even so, the selectors have thrown an absolute curve ball (to misappropriate anoither sport's terminology) in their choice of squad for Friday's second Test.

The batting, once Shah had failed to live up to my billing (although he did get a snorter in the first innings) picked itself. Bell's demotion to 6 for the first game says more about where Vaughan sees himself batting than it does about Bell's long term prospects - he is quality and it shows. The buzz that Strauss might get dropped if Flintoff comes back should remain just that: buzz. He's been a wonderfully consistent performer for 3 years and should absolutely not be dropped for one bad series. If Flintoff is not fit enough to play the role of a third seamer, then he shouldn't play. His form with the bat isn't good enough for him to bat at 6, so he has to play as a bowling all rounder. If he does so, and bats at seven, with Prior at eight England have a solid tail for the first time in a long while.
Prior's performance was good enough to suggest that England have finally found a replacement for Alec Stewart - but there's a very long way to go. So we come to the bowling. With Hoggard injured and a slow pitch to contest with, England were always going to struggle. That Plunkett and Harmison struggled at times to hit the pitch should give grounds for alarm. That the selectors have decided that James Anderson (not notable for his discipline) and Ryan Sidebottom (pictured) are the answers is questionable. Sidebottom played one test in 2002, without causing much of a stir but, crucially, is a left-armer. One thing that both sides lacked in their pace department was variety - and the only successful bowler was a slow left armer.
England squad: Michael Vaughan (Yorkshire, captain), James Anderson (Lancashire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Paul Collingwood (Durham), Alastair Cook (Essex), Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire), Steve Harmison (Durham), Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire), Matt Prior (Sussex), Monty Panesar (Northants), Liam Plunkett (Durham), Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire), Andrew Strauss (Middlesex).



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