England v Australia, 5th Test, The Oval

All change for The Oval?

Andrew Miller

August 11, 2009

Comments: 65 | Text size: A | A

England's humiliating innings defeat at Headingley has thrown the Ashes wide open and turned this weekend's squad announcement into the hottest topic of the summer. With Kevin Pietersen missing from a flat-lining middle-order, changes are sure to be considered, particularly at Nos. 3 and 4. But which players will front up at The Oval? Cricinfo casts its eye over the leading contenders


Mark Ramprakash completes yet another hundred, Surrey v Middlesex, The Oval, May 6, 2009
Mark Ramprakash is the form player in England, but could his temperament deal with the pressure of the Ashes? © PA Photos
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Mark Ramprakash

Pros: Currently in the form of his life, and it's a run of form that has extended, almost without a break, for the past three years. Age does not weary him, quite the opposite in fact, as he piles on the first-class hundreds (108 and counting) with a zeal that is entirely at odds with the often maligned reputation of county cricket. He's no stranger to The Oval either - he's racked up 29 centuries in 64 matches there, including his last in Test cricket ... against Australia in 2001. If you want a horse for a course, it's hard to deny he belongs in the running.

Cons: Ramprakash's failings at international level (two hundreds in 52 matches at 27.32) were nothing to do with ability but everything to do with temperament. The higher profile the occasion, the more likely he was to tense up, as was briefly witnessed last year during his struggle to bring up his 100th hundred. Age has brought a measure of serenity to his cricket, however, and he turns 40 next month. If England can somehow convince him that the feverish atmosphere of an Oval Ashes decider is nothing more dramatic than Division Two dead-rubber against Derbyshire, then get him in there.

Likelihood of call-up: He's the romantic's choice, and that of every housewife in the land, after his star turns on Strictly Come Dancing. But surely he's become a reality TV star for a reason?

Marcus Trescothick

Pros: The one thing that England lacked above all else at Headingley was a presence (an aura, even, to use that fateful Edgbaston buzzword). With Kevin Pietersen laid low and Andrew Flintoff out of the picture, their unconvincing middle order was ripe for the plucking, and so it proved. Trescothick's return would demand Australia's respect. His uncompromising aggression was the platform for England's success in 2005, not least at Edgbaston, when he led the first-day charge with a momentum-seizing 90. In the opinion of most experts, no player in the past four years has been more missed - not even Vaughan or Simon Jones - because his uncomplicated style invariably set England's agenda.

Cons: The reasons for Trescothick's sad withdrawal from England selection have been widely documented and barely need repetition here. He laid out the facts of his stress-related illness in his 2008 autobiography, and for the good of his health, he does not need the angst of such a high-profile contest. Besides, as his Somerset captain, Justin Langer, told Cricinfo, his call-up would open a vast can of worms for England's selectors. Would they have to sanction the routine absence of senior players from overseas tours, and what message would it send to the younger players in the England reckoning?

Likelihood of call-up: In England's dreams, he's a shoo-in. And he's probably a dead-cert to receive an exploratory phone-call from Geoff Miller. But he's already written his chances off in a Bristol newspaper. It'll never happen.

Rob Key


Robert Key picks up a single, New Zealand A v England Lions, 2nd unofficial Test,  3rd day, Lincoln, March 9, 2009
Rob Key hasn't played Test cricket since 2005, but at the age of 30, he's entering his prime © Getty Images
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Pros: He has the backing of England's former coach, Duncan Fletcher, and while that hardly amounts to a rubber-stamped approval, Fletcher is nevertheless a keen judge of batting talent, and knows what Key is made of, having observed him in and around the England reckoning almost throughout his seven-year tenure. In recent seasons he has made regular appearances as captain of England Lions, and he even made a fleeting appearance in the World Twenty20 in June. As a rookie Down Under in 2002-03, he impressed with his combative attitude under fire, even though his dismissal by Damien Martyn at Perth was the stand-out memory of his performances.

Cons: In his previous incarnation at international level, his reputation for cliqueyness counted against him - the "darts team" he formed with Flintoff and Harmison riled Fletcher more than any on-field misdemeanours. Furthermore, his call-up for the recent World Twenty20 coincided with a total tailing-off of his county form, and there were also reports of a falling-out with the management after his solitary appearance in that tournament resulted in a humiliating defeat against the Netherlands. Mind you, he has since recovered his poise with three hundreds, including a career-best 270 not out against Glamorgan, so that really ought not to be held against him.

Likelihood of call-up: At the age of 30, he is more than seven years into his international career, and he hasn't featured for England since the tour of South Africa in 2004-05, but as he enters his batting prime he's a svelte shadow of his former self, and besides, time on the sidelines proved to be the making of many of Australia's finest - from his nemesis Martyn to Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer. Expect him to feature strongly in the reckoning.

Jonathan Trott

Pros: England are sticklers for continuity (as the stagnation of their middle-order options amply demonstrates) and so having featured in their plans for Headingley, and having come within a whisker of a debut when Matt Prior's back gave way before the toss, Trott ought to expect at the very least to be involved in the plans for The Oval. Aside from the old-stagers Trescothick and Ramprakash (and Hampshire's opener, Michael Carberry), he is England's form batsman in county cricket with 910 runs at 82.72, and even if most of those have been compiled on Edgbaston's featherbeds, then at least he won't find the lethargy of the modern-day Oval wickets too daunting.

Cons: Trott managed only 20 in his one previous first-class innings at The Oval, and the ground hasn't been too kind to him at international level either. He played there in back-to-back Twenty20s against West Indies in 2007, but slunk away with scores of 9 and 2, and the whole England experience was one that reportedly left him underwhelmed. If he has any residual nerves to overcome, and he surely would as a Test debutant, then England's biggest occasion since Oval 2005 would hardly be the place to shake them off.

Likelihood of call-up: To omit him from the squad altogether would show a cruel lack of faith, but expect an alternative to join him in the reckoning, and ultimately leapfrog him as well.

Owais Shah

Pros: He's a familiar face, having been an ODI regular for several months, as well as a fringe member of the Test squad who had a go at No. 3 for three Tests in the Caribbean this spring. He's been in decent first-class form for his county Middlesex this season, with 552 runs at 50.18, including a brilliant 129 not out against Derbyshire in which the next highest score was 18.

Cons: That Caribbean experience was undermined by crass run-outs and unfulfilled promise, and he's fallen off the radar since Andy Flower took over as full-time coach. Prone to ultra-intensity in a manner similar to Ramprakash, and he was a notable failure on the last occasion he was drafted in for a one-off fixture, against West Indies at Lord's in May 2007.

Likelihood of call-up: Given how involved he was in the great No. 3 debate at the start of the summer, it's puzzling why he's being so overlooked now. But regardless of his haphazard opportunities, a Test average of 26.90 from six matches is not encouraging.

Ravi Bopara

Pros: In an otherwise pretty damning dossier on England's players, Justin Langer conceded that Bopara was "a good player", and his natural confidence remains as undented as one could hope in the circumstances, after a torrid series so far. He scored three hundreds in consecutive innings against West Indies in the first half of the year, so he's got the game to bounce back. Plus, his retention would be a strong declaration that England are refusing to panic ...

Cons: Unfortunately, it's high time that England did panic, at least where this particular batsman is concerned. Bopara's return of 105 runs at 15 reached its nadir with an unlucky first-baller at Headingley, although his selected stroke - a neither forward-nor-back defensive prod - was indicative of a muddled mindset. Sometimes a break from the front line is essential.

Likelihood of call-up: Minimal

Ian Bell

Pros: He's only just been recalled to the side, as Kevin Pietersen's replacement, and he did score a decent 53 (albeit a touch fortuitous) at Edgbaston last week. And if there's any single memory that Bell would want to obliterate, it would be his performance against Australia at The Oval in 2005, when he bagged a pair, including a last-day first-baller when the series was totally in the balance. Whatever he produces next week, it can't get worse than that ... can it?

Cons: Bell's predictable returns of 8 and 3 at Headingley, when the heat was really on after two early dismissals, proved once again how poor he is at setting the agenda of an innings. His best performances have come when he's had a more imposing colleague to slipstream, and at present that is exactly what England's middle-order lacks. He is one of nature's followers, and with all to play for at The Oval, leaders is what England are crying out for.

Likelihood of call-up: He'll be there in the squad. But only through a lack of alternatives.

Long shots

Michael Lumb - in the Champions Trophy 30, so the selectors must rate him
Ed Joyce - scored an ODI century at Sydney, and has found form with Sussex
Michael Carberry - third among English-qualified run-scorers, with 1095 in 11 matches for Hampshire
Joe Denly - he's destined for an England future, but maybe not just now
Mark Butcher - so what if he retired this week? He was one of England's most successful No. 3s
Nasser Hussain - England need grit, determination and a never-say-die spirit
Corporal Jones - The mantra has been 'don't panic' so Jonesy has to be the man

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by sanjev on (August 15, 2009, 13:11 GMT)

Going by the form of Mark Ramprakash he can just walk into the English side.The problem with the selection process in England is that every time they perform badly in a test they go back to the veterans or players who are nearing retirement.they should be looking at the future instead by getting the young talent into the side.Temporary solutions will not bring any advantage to them.Bopara or Ovais shah are good enough. It is just a matter of showing confidence in them.They will perform well.Trescothick at 33 should be considered as he has still some cricket left in him.

Posted by andrew-schulz on (August 13, 2009, 13:41 GMT)

The stupidity starts in the first sentence of the introduction. The Ashes have been thrown wide open? They were far more open before the Headingley slaughter. And I'm sure the odds-makers will agree.

Posted by ganeshram78 on (August 13, 2009, 7:10 GMT)

why not boycott? it doesnt get worse with players like ramprakash, trescothjick in the reckoning. i find english cricket is at its nadir if it cannot find one good young new batman with 18 counties in its structure.

Posted by sacricketlegend on (August 13, 2009, 6:45 GMT)

I hope to God England realise they can forget about the future, the past and focus only on The Oval match. All that matters is that they win that game. To do that they need to pick their strongest team. Which, right now, looks as follows: Strauss Cook Ramprakash Trott Collingwood Prior Flintoff Swann Broad Onions Sidebottom But I know it won't happen. England are going to lose the Test. Sad story.

Posted by Woody111 on (August 13, 2009, 5:09 GMT)

As an Australian I am loving seeing this rediculous talk of getting retired and other former players into the English 11. Absolutely hilarious! Maybe you should ask Gooch back as Alderman isn't playing. Perhaps get a decendant of WG Grace. Gatting may be worth an ask: no Warne anymore. Talk about living in the past: and all this when you have to win the last test. Get real!

Posted by fairdinkum on (August 13, 2009, 3:25 GMT)

It would be terrifying for England if the selectors took any notice of some of the changes recommended here

Posted by Benkl on (August 13, 2009, 2:13 GMT)

Joe Denly deserves serious consideration he got 2 50s against the current Australian attack i the lions game. Not sure id trust Trott , Key and Ramps can face a hot attack . Out of Johnson , Lee , Clarke , Ben H and Siddle at least 2 will be a handful . Lee was in imperative form in the Lions game and if he gets a 5 for Clarke will probably miss out. Australia will field a 4 pace attack ( notice every time they do they win , eg 3 wins for 3 test) . If its Lee , Johnson , Ben H and Siddle it will be a handful for a county batsman.

If Marcus Trescothick wants to do it he should get another chance but he must be available to tour . No point picking someone for 1 match even one so important.

Posted by Nampally on (August 13, 2009, 2:01 GMT)

Ramprakash on his home ground appears to be the best choice for #3 position. It is unfortunate that Bopara could not succeed at this position. He should be sent at #5 or6. The team needs one more batsman than in the previous tests. The team: Strauss, Cook, Ramps, Collingwood, Bopara/shah, Prior, Flintoff, Broad, Swann, Anderson/Onions, Sidebottom. Ramprakash will do well on his home ground. However will England retain hin long term at the age of 40? Why was he not included in the team for 7 years despite his fine performance at the county level is a mystery. Bopara after scoring 3 consecutive centuries in tests has lost his form and confidence. He may do well at the lower order. He is the future of England batting being younger than most of the team members. Hence dropping him will not serve any useful purpose. Aussie team is strong and loss of bowling form of their main bowlers enabled England to remain at 1-1. If their bowlers are in form England cannot beat them.

Posted by cricketaholic on (August 12, 2009, 17:55 GMT)

Nice to see all the different options that are pouring in...now I have got another one. What about borrowing FAV 4 from India? Sachin and VVS love the Aussie bowling like anything, Sourav roars always when his back touches the wall...and to consolidate from the score of 0/1, we have got the WALL himself,Rahul Dravid. These 4 guys have been milking Aussie bowling for last decade almost.This might open the window for a brand new concept also. :-) ICC can think about this option to keep test cricket alive. At the eve of India's 63 rd Independence day,this will also be a nice gesture from the English men. :-)

Posted by phoenixsteve on (August 12, 2009, 17:35 GMT)

Since my earlier posting it seems that Trescothick is a possibility...... The selectors should do a Nelson and raise the "England expcts that every man shall do his duty' flag! To complete the secenario Marcus will probably only score 111 in the first innings...... BTW in my earlier post I of course included Freddie in the lineup! C'mon England!

Posted by Bollo on (August 12, 2009, 14:59 GMT)

Vinchester, with all respect, that`s some of the most ridiculous stuff I`ve heard in a long time. Bat Strauss at 4? - the only bloke who`s been consistent all series. Promote Prior - a decent middle/lower order bat to open, and promote schoolboy in the headlights Bell to 3? At least Strauss gets to come in now 0/0. Your scenario is 0/2 - Bell another Oval first baller. Deck chairs? Titanic?

Bat people in their best position, bite the bullet, drop those who aren`t up to it, and don`t reselect people who weren`t up to it in the first place. And pick Flintoff, as a batsman only if necessary. Then you`ve got a chance.

Posted by Sutekh35 on (August 12, 2009, 14:51 GMT)

Batting Prior at number three would solve a lot of problems, but just to consider the options for a minute. One name not mentioned in the article is Jamie Dalrymple. He's in terrific form for Glamorgan this season, and has been picked to lead the Lions against Australia. He would provide an extra spin option as well. Its nice to see Carberry getting a mention, but really Trott should be picked on curent form. One things for sure Bell surely is the Graeme Hick for the 21st Century, a fantastic player but not quite a test player of the highest caliber. Bopara's time will come soon, but he seems nervous against the Australian bowling, so I would drop the pair and go all out for a 2-1 series win

Posted by Bhattu on (August 12, 2009, 14:42 GMT)

Bell and Bop - have got 1 run each in their county outings!! Nice!!

Posted by crankypete on (August 12, 2009, 14:26 GMT)

well I'd be getting the poser Flintoff to open. earn his recall.

dropping Cook AND Bell AND Bopara. not to mention Anderson. would ideally pension Collingwood off, but give him a pass after Cardiff.

pick Denly

and pick Shahid.

take a risk in the now with a strong view to the future.

Strauss (c) Flintoff Collingwood Denly Prior Shahid Broad Swann Onions Harmison Panesar

3 quicks, plus a bit of Flintoff 3 spinners, plus Denly better off in the batting.

more Arthur Miller than Geoff, but there you go.

Posted by DKT27 on (August 12, 2009, 13:47 GMT)

Did someone forget Graham Gooch and David Gower?

This all is going out of mind. If they think selecting Mark, I am supporting them, see him playing, simply at his best. At last age doesn't matter the fact that it is a game and when someone is in form he deserves to get a chance no matter what his age it.

Posted by vinchester on (August 12, 2009, 12:26 GMT)

To prop up the middle order, Strauss should go in at 2 down, ask Prior who is in good form to open the innings ; Let Bell or Mark Ramprakash come 1 downand send Ravi Bopara at 4 down; that should work now. its too late to bring new comers now.

Posted by atulcricket on (August 12, 2009, 12:13 GMT)

I just don't understand if England could win "must win match" with these players then England should have played them in First test only. If England have 6 or 7 players for must win situation then its great, I don't know if any team in the world has that luxury. England supporters are behaving as Australia supporters right now. This is what oppositions say while sledging, 'come on you are not good enough'. How can anybody be so sure that the person they have selected will definitely play well in the 'must win match'. Nobody can be sure of that of any greatest batsman in the world, Sachin, Lara, Viv or Don Bradman, I hope you would be knowing the fact that Don could not score 4 runs in his last innings to make perfect 100 ave.Adrian77, mate I understand your logic but that way they work out every player but don't succeed all the time. Expecting anything from debutant will be huge mistake and old players (you know).

Posted by WilliamFranklin on (August 12, 2009, 11:58 GMT)

This stuff about Ramps tensing up before getting to 100 100s. He went, what 7 or 8 innings before getting it. For Ramps that's a poor run of form but lets be honest, most other batsman would love a hundred every 7 innings.

Posted by cloudmess on (August 12, 2009, 11:46 GMT)

Yes, and I'm forgetting old Vaughany... Can't someone coax him out of his sunny back garden to come and play for England one last time?

Posted by cloudmess on (August 12, 2009, 11:43 GMT)

If only coaches could play for their country. Andy Flower is around the same age as Ramps, with double the test average. Tres has just made some ambivalent comments that he might be persuaded - for God's sake, someone persuade him! Time and time again in his book he says that his illness rules out foreign travel, but not playing domestically. He will bring much better balance to the top 6. Get him opening with Strauss, Cook at 3, and give Bopara a rest (if he's going to insist on playing his current brand of half-assed defence), or Bell. Don't pick Ramps. The intensity of the occasion - Ashes at stake - will just totally paralyse him. Ignore this warning if you will, but you will see. Otherwise, Rob Key. Only pick him if you really think he will score more runs than Bopara or Bell. That's why we pick someone after all, isn't it?

Posted by shehanrat on (August 12, 2009, 11:06 GMT)

England should not panic. All the guys have got what it takes and they just had a horror game individually last week. True they are missing strong personalities like MV, KP and Flintoff but nothing can be done about that! Get on with it!! In 2005 they sent a great message to the opposition by playing the same 11 which got thrashed in the Lords test. Positive message and the way to go!!

Posted by dravidthebest on (August 12, 2009, 9:41 GMT)

Australia adding Dirk Nannes, England talking about Ramprakash, Tresco - I think they can also look at VVS Laxman..who is there playing for Lancashire...or more fun would be adding Justin Langer to the team- saying he is somerset captain...!!!

Posted by fazzie on (August 12, 2009, 9:09 GMT)

England can win the 5th test with the following squad: 1 Strauss 2 Trescothick 3 Bopara 4 Ramprakash 5 Collingwood 6 Prior 7 Flintoff 8 Broad 9 Swann 10 Anderson 11 Onions

Posted by cricketaholic on (August 12, 2009, 8:48 GMT)

What about Michael Vaughn? How can one forget the amount of run he piled in 2002-03 Ashes? He has got the class,skill and temperament to tackle Johnson & co. He is a far better batsman than either Bopara or Bell even when he is not at his best. Come on Andrew...Show some guts...and bring back the old war horse.

Posted by Chestnutgrey on (August 12, 2009, 7:19 GMT)

England should have tried Bopara at two-down or three-down sometime in the series. Now he just has to go. Unfortunately, they don' t have much bench strength. Of the lot, Owais Shah can be tried. Or maybe Key. Jonathan Trott definitely needs a look in. Or maybe they can play Swann and Broad as regular batsman who can bowl occasionally, in place of Bell and Bopara.

Posted by phoenixsteve on (August 12, 2009, 7:05 GMT)

OK - so no recall for Marcus. Shame. But we've got to make changes! There are probably 30 England cricketers good enough to play for England. I believe that you must pick the 'in form' players - especially at home - otherwise you've given away a huge 'home' advantage... i.e. a large 'pool' of talent. Out would go Cook, Bell, Bopara and the the inconsistent Harmison (for good this time). In should come Ramprakash, Key, Trott and Panesar with the latter playing at the expense of Onions. The England batting has been poor in this series and it's a credit to the bowling that we have been able to compete against a very classy and talented side. This Oval test must be regarded as a one off and the best team for the job should be picked, we're deluding ourselves if we think that these out of form 'failures' will be able to come good or even allowed to come good! C'mon England... hats off to you Aussies! Fair dinkum!

Posted by sabean on (August 12, 2009, 6:59 GMT)

why not bring ANDY FLOWER????? English team has become a joke.

Posted by PIETERFAN on (August 12, 2009, 6:53 GMT)

The best thing for English Selectors is not to panic at this stage. They simply need to look at the performance of the players in the next practice match against Australia. Whoever does well, gets straight in the team in place of Bell and Bopara. Else, Bell and Bopara stay in the team so that they get one last chance to prove what they are made of. If they still fail, you can put a justified end to their international careers. As simple as that.

Posted by Bollo on (August 12, 2009, 6:10 GMT)

I`ve always thought it good selection policy to pick the team which your opponents would least like to face. Just concentrating on the English batting for a moment, Aussies would be very happy for Bopara and Bell to retain their spots, as they know they have it all over them. They`d probably be happy for Collingwood to be picked as well - not because they don`t respect his fighting qualities, but because he`s so badly out of form. For a match England need to win, he won`t cause them too many headaches either.

A batsman they do fear in this sort of situation, and with good reason, is Andrew Flintoff. He scores quickly, he can dominate an attack, and he gives a lift to his partner. The Aussies must have been delighted to hear that Flintoff is going to need to be up for 2 spells of bowling a day to justify his inclusion! Outrageous stuff. Even for his batting alone, in a must-win game, it`s astonishing that the England selectors could consider leaving him out.

Posted by RajBangalore on (August 12, 2009, 5:11 GMT)

Ravi Bopara never looked Test class for me. His technic looks suspect. Age should never be a parameter, rather it is ability and fitness. Question should be if the player can take 5 days grind.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (August 12, 2009, 4:52 GMT)

Vaughan should have got a mention. He's a guy who lifts for the the big games.

Posted by Bollo on (August 12, 2009, 3:22 GMT)

Sorry Jackiethepen, after reading on here last week that Ian Bell was the English equivalent of Doug Walters (nearly coughed my coffee onto the keyboard) you`re now comparing him to Michael Clarke and calling him a natural Test No.5. I can assure you if the Aussies could pick the English team, he`d be first name on the team sheet every time.

I`m sure at Edgbaston they even asked the umps to give him the `little sister rule` - 3 chances, then you`re out.

Posted by souwesterly on (August 11, 2009, 23:00 GMT)

If England foul up in the final Test then the players (whoever they may be) will go down in history as the team who 'lost' the Ashes.

So why not try a whole new crew? Bopara, Bell and Collingwood to go, to be replaced by Trott, Key and Carberry.

If they fail then they can be given the blame - allowing room for the 'old blood' to return for the next series. If they succeed then something has been proven - and the selectors and new players can all bathe themselves in glory…..and the hopes of a Test career while the 'old crew' can be pensioned off as necessary.

Posted by Partyman on (August 11, 2009, 22:16 GMT)

If I see Bell in an England shirt ever again, I would just hang myself. Enough said.

Posted by adrian77 on (August 11, 2009, 22:11 GMT)

atulcricket, its really no longer a question of whether or not Bell an Bopara are "good" and just saying they deserve another go. You have to look at them in the context of this series. Australia have the psychologicall edge over them, they have been thoroughly worked out and they simply won't be able to recover in time for the last test. For the final test, which is a must win, there is a strong case for bringing in someone new - someone who this current Australian attack are not familiar with, someone who they haven't been battering away throughout the series. Bring in a new face - someone who Australia will only have the opportunity of testing out his weaknesses on the day he is batting. And by the time they find a chink in his armour, he will (hopefully) already be on 150.

Posted by LukeTheDuke on (August 11, 2009, 20:48 GMT)

This is fascinating, I love it and thats exactly I love test cricket and particularly when England is involved... this is awesome... This is what u call dialing P for Panic button... wow!!... Can't wait for team news to come out.. and as some one said bring Gary Pratt on as 12th man, Ponting wont like that :)

Posted by BiSONN on (August 11, 2009, 20:46 GMT)

I think Bopara is going to make way for Ramps and Bell will retain his spot.

Posted by Paul_JT on (August 11, 2009, 20:11 GMT)

The Selectors have to hold their hands up and admit their policy of consistency has failed. There are no clear alternatives; Bopara - mentally shot at this time, no. Bell - keeps his place for lake of alternatives and because dropping would bestow 'the new Ramprakash' tag. Trescothick - leave the lad in peace. Ramprakash - With only tomorrows televised Pro40 game (a cynical departure from Surrey's youth policy) in the spotlight and his omission from the Lions, he is without opportunity to answer the pressure question. Alas the unfulfilled talent will remain forever thus. Key - Mentally tough enough. If he can get his mates Fred and Harmison on-song, any runs might just be a bonus. Trott, Carberry and Moore - In the Lions, good form, but this is no time for a debutant. Andy Flower - At 41 he is not that much older than Ramprakash. Great Test record. Mentally tough, he has stood up to a dictator. Has 'access to a British passport'. Taking responsibility is his and Straus'

Posted by chintumani on (August 11, 2009, 19:35 GMT)

I do agree that the Oval test is a crucial one and England have showed very little character in the previous encounter. Does it mean so many changes are reuired ? Trust the players and persist with them as Australians did with Johnson and North. With Flintoff all set to join the team, may be replacing Trott for Bopara should be the only change.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (August 11, 2009, 19:14 GMT)

A passing thought: Hobbs scored more first class centuries after the age of 40 than he had before. Ramps' 39 years should not be an issue. As I wrote earlier, this is not something that the selectors need lose sleep over... Trott, et al, not yet - they have not experienced the fire of the Ashes and this is no time for experiment! By the way, can anyone remember what Langer had to write about Ramprakash last summer as MR eased his way to an undefeated double ton against Somerset? There was no hint of criticism there, only admiration for his flawless technique as observed from first slip!

Posted by 1948 on (August 11, 2009, 19:07 GMT)

it is tough time for England players ,will they win over Aussies or loose the match ,they must play better match to win over no.1 team,to create history, better luck to England.

Posted by atulcricket on (August 11, 2009, 18:56 GMT)

I think all this talk is useless and England should not change the squad except Flintoff returns. I don't understand what is wrong with these people and they all are suddenly giving so many suggestions to change the squad. I believe England should back its players and give them confidence. In fact they should declare the team right now so that players build up confidence. Bopara is definitely good and I think bell is best option they have in pieterson's absence. So just tell the team and let them prepare with confident mind, instead of worried mind whether or not they will be selected. All the best England!!

Posted by whoster on (August 11, 2009, 18:50 GMT)

My personal choice for number 3 would be Brian Close. It's fair to say he's past his best, but I'm sure he'd only be too happy to dance down the wicket and allow himself to be peppered black and blue. He may not score many runs, but England desperately need someone to anchor the middle order. If that sounds a little far fetched, then perhaps David Steele would answer the call to arms and show the young 'uns a thing or two!

Posted by DMB1 on (August 11, 2009, 18:33 GMT)

I agree with Dan that Bopara and Bell need to be jettisoned for this game and possibly, in the case of Bell, for good.

Look, it's a one-off, winner-takes-all contest so let's just forget about continuity and central contracts for this one game and bring in Ramps and Tres (presuming he wants to play)

Both are scoring runs for fun; both are high on confidence. Tres has got the belligerence and class we need in Pieterson's absence and Ramps has been Bradmanesque in his run scoring for years now. 39 is no great age nowadays with modern diets and fitness regimes (look at Tom Watson nearly winning the British Open at 60!) If Tres isnt game then Key is the man, both on form and temperament.

Dave Moss-Blundell

Posted by Ruri on (August 11, 2009, 18:27 GMT)

Trott and Ramps. The two best batsmen left in England.

Posted by bonobo on (August 11, 2009, 18:23 GMT)

I agree both Bell and Bopara should go, it does any favours. Rather than looking for the replacements as saviours, I think we need to look at Strauss, Cook and colingwood to stand up and make the big runs. At best, the guys coming in should be supporting them, since lets be honest there is no obvious ready made class replacement (yes, that includes Ramps) if one of them (whoever) makes big runs, then all the better but there is sadly knowne out there I have that expectation of. But on that basis, good solid temperaments, who wont give their wickets away unless beaten by good bowling, Key for one and possibly McGrath and Solanki, both captains at county level should not need hand holding by Strauss, more experienced and better players than when they last played if not quite test class.I would back them to fight for 40.s and 50s. Trescothick would be perfect for a one off, but that is entirely a perosnal matter. Then perhaps give some of the younger guys a go on the winter tour.

Posted by lokhtar on (August 11, 2009, 18:18 GMT)

Reality star for a reason? How did that affect his run scoring ability? That's the problem with English selectors (and a few other) - image seems to be more important than substance.

Posted by Geraldine on (August 11, 2009, 17:40 GMT)

Give Bopara a few mints and bring in Gary Pratt as a 12th man.

Posted by jackiethepen on (August 11, 2009, 17:26 GMT)

Tresco has ruled himself out. Key doesn't seem keen. Shah has just stuttered in a County game in Div 2. That leaves Trott which is a huge gamble. No wonder the selectors are sweating. Trott has an aggressive temperament but not exactly all the shots for a Test player. Could be found out quite soon, but maybe a sufficiently dark horse to get away with it at the Oval. A real gamble. Bell likes to study the form of the opposition. His sudden selection to take over from KP doesn't suit him. But he did manage a decent 53 at Brum - 7 4s and 1 6 isn't a bad knock at class bowling. The Aussie bowling unit has just found form so Bell was unlucky not to face them earlier when he could have bedded in. To be honest I think Bopara was the wrong call from the start and I knew we would pay for it in an Ashes series. Bell is a natural Test No 5. When all this Ashes crisis is over he should be returned to the fold where he can be the England strokeplayer equivalent of Michael Clarke.

Posted by mumbaiguy79 on (August 11, 2009, 17:09 GMT)

Nasser Hussain!!! You got to be kidding me. One blow to his brittle finger while taking a return from Matt Prior and I doubt he can even hold the commentary mike after that :).

Posted by FIASNAHK on (August 11, 2009, 17:07 GMT)

Lets add the entire sky sports commentary team! those legends would bat better than this current lineup even at their age

Posted by Snert on (August 11, 2009, 16:31 GMT)

We don't want to return to the knee jerk selection criteria of the late 1980's but I don't think Bopara has what it takes to build an innings against the top three test playing nations and therefore he should be dropped straight away. The Australian's dropped Hughes and I don't think it would be seen as panicing if he were dropped but on the subject to replace him I'd go for Key (but I am a Kent member).

Posted by Mr.Bogs on (August 11, 2009, 16:04 GMT)

Michael Lumb.......all the way!

Posted by ramsay18477 on (August 11, 2009, 15:50 GMT)

By the look of the way things are moving and contenders' names are coming out, I would actually consider Graham Thorpe as a certain replacement in the middle order at No. 5. If Ramprakash, Key and Hussain can be contenders, then Thorpe is miles ahead...He should be made to come out of retirement, if he has already retired, just for the sake of regaining England the Ashes at this most opportune time, when the Aussies are at their weakest in decades. It all depends which way, the English selectors want to go - to recall long-forgotten veterans or to give an opporutnity to new youngsters to prove their mettel in the most important series / match of their lives or a mixture of both.

Posted by Merri on (August 11, 2009, 15:33 GMT)

Calling Trott and making him play would at least be moral, and that's as good a criterion as any. Also, if Bell needs soundness on the other side, why not let him open with Strauss ? But I think the problem is deeper than that. So I'd vote Trott and Key, if only to avoid any critics that 'not everything has been tried'. Nnotice that when we begin to speak in terms of moral and avoiding critics rather than of winning, the proof is there that something is rotten.

Posted by musicrazy on (August 11, 2009, 15:17 GMT)

How about getting Michael Vaughan back?? a total overhaul... strauss and trescothik to open vaughan at 3 collingwood at 4, bell at 5, flinty at 6, prior at 7 swann 8 harmi 19, andy 10 and hoggard 11

Posted by Sneezo on (August 11, 2009, 15:09 GMT)

shelu - You're right in that Vaughan and Andy Flower have got as much chance as Butcher. We should probably add Sir Geoffery to the list and another name that you may not have come across: Irony. He played with Yorkshire in the days of Vic Tripe, but has fallen out of favour in the modern day.

Posted by WJStryder on (August 11, 2009, 15:02 GMT)

Im not sure what England should do to be honest. I think the fact that Flintoff will bolster some of the attitudes in the squad with his presence will make them competitive again. They are going to need favourable swing bowling conditions to beat Aus though. The batting lineup will be weak without Pietersen no matter who is picked. In fact i think it is this simple... If Strauss does not fire - England will lose - Flintoff or no Flintoff. Throughout the entire series -the England tail has been a thorn in the Aussies side - they have made the English totals respectable. How long can that continue?

Posted by Nutcutlet on (August 11, 2009, 14:56 GMT)

This is a no-brainer (therefore an insurmountable challenge to the England selectors!) Bopara and Bell step aside and step forward Key and Ramprakash. Key is more than worthy of his opportunity, has the combative spirit and is now a more mature player who thinks deeply about the game (in fact he should be captain, but that is another issue). Ramps' best years have been since England lost patience with him, yet we are not all the same; he is the classic late-maturer and thus more than worthy of his return. Scoring classy runs at the Oval is something he does in his sleep, no matter who the opposition. He is still fleet of foot and is a better outfielder than many half his age. He would not let England down and would welcome the opportunity to show the cricket world what it has been missing for many years. Cometh the hour....

Posted by coatsie89 on (August 11, 2009, 14:51 GMT)

i think the ICC need to have an 'all change'. Although both teams have had their share of luck in this series, the serious lack of quality and consistency from the so called professional umpires has, in my opinion, tarnished what should have been an unforgettable series. It must be thoroughly depressing for batsmen to know that even if you 'middle' the ball onto your pads, you're probably still going to be given out if the opposition appeal.

Posted by MHICK on (August 11, 2009, 14:47 GMT)

Bring in Key , Rashied, Flinttof, and Ramprakash for bell, Bopara, Collingwood, and Harminson

Posted by coatsie89 on (August 11, 2009, 14:41 GMT)

both bopara and bell are proving/have proved they are not up to it at international level. Rob Key and Mark Ramprakash proved this as well when they had their chance. England need to start looking to the future and stop taking steps back. What has Stephen Moore done wrong - he scored a ton against Australia when everyone else folded in the Lions match. Drop bell and bopara and bring in trott and moore. We need new players to come in and put their stamp on things, not go back to te people who have tried and will be under more pressure to perform. Throw it in the mix as well, can you see our seamers taking 20 wickets? How about Graeme Swann and finally Gary Keedy, he can;t stop taking wickets and yet is never mentioned. For me, Broad misses out on this one and Keedy comes in for him. England need tobe bold!

Posted by Dr_Cool on (August 11, 2009, 14:26 GMT)

I'd think Hildreth is a good dark horse for selection.

Posted by Dan-argent on (August 11, 2009, 14:16 GMT)

In my mind, both Bopara and bell should be dropped. Bell is not mentally tough enough at the highest level, and Bopara is woefully out of form. Robert Key should return, along with mark Ramprakash.

Posted by shelu on (August 11, 2009, 14:11 GMT)

Why are Vaughan and Andy Flower not mentioned? I don't think they are unlikelier picks than Butcher or Hussain, are they?

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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