England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley July 31, 2012

Flower hopes Taylor solves No. 6 issue

83

Andy Flower, the England team director, hopes James Taylor can take ownership of England's problematic No. 6 position but has said that Ravi Bopara will be considered for future selection when his personal situation is resolved.

Bopara, who returned to the side for the first time in a year at The Oval, was inked in for the second Test against South Africa at Headingley, despite a lean comeback match: he made 0 and 22 in the crushing innings defeat before informing the management that he would not be available. His withdrawal means England are set to use their fifth No. 6 of the year as the middle-order spot, which has not been consistently filled since Paul Collingwood's retirement, continues to cause headaches.

Eoin Morgan was the first to be given the role and had a sustained run through last summer and the early part of 2012 until paying the price for a poor series against Pakistan. Matt Prior then moved up the order in Sri Lanka, with Samit Patel playing an allrounder's role at No. 7, before Jonny Bairstow was debuted against West Indies where he struggled.

That laid out a clear route for Bopara to finally return to a position that would have been his earlier in the year but for injury but now another obstacle has been put in his way meaning a second debutant of the season in the role. It has also meant another tricky Test build-up for Flower to manage, following the issues revolving around Kevin Pietersen in the days leading towards The Oval.

"It's disappointing for him obviously but it opens the door for another player who has come through the academy system and worked really hard over the years to get his chance," Flower said. "I certainly hope James can make six his spot for a while.

"I don't know him that well. We've had him down for the odd net and he's worked with Graham Gooch. I watched him play against Sri Lanka at Derby last year. He looks like a young man that understands his game pretty well and he knows how to score runs. We don't know how he'll do but we wish him well and hope he has a wonderful international career. It doesn't close the door on Ravi Bopara."

Flower all-but confirmed that Taylor will debut at No. 6 by saying that it was "unlikely" England would employ a five-man bowling attack despite only taking two wickets in 189 overs at The Oval. However, he did not completely dismiss the idea of an all-pace attack if the Headingley pitch looked particularly lively - although that is a trap England have fallen into before at Leeds. "An all seam attack is an option for us," he said. "But we haven't done that for a long time."

It would be a major departure from type if England were to leave out Graeme Swann even though the offspinner went wicketless in 52 overs against South Africa, has taken just six Test wickets at 72.16 this season and is carrying a long-term elbow problem. Flower said Swann's elbow was "Okay... He has a chronic problem but it's improving."

Some of England's players, especially Swann and James Anderson, have been reasonably candid in the days following the defeat at The Oval about how the team have struggled to adapt to their No. 1 ranking, which will slip away if they lose this series. Swann went as far as to call England's recent record as "dismal" but, perhaps unsurprisingly, Flower did not quite agree.

"I wouldn't describe our results as being dismal," he said. "I think you have to look a little deeper than that. The series in the UAE was in different conditions and we struggled against their two spinners. You can't compare that to the first Test against South Africa.

"South Africa played very good cricket, we played some good cricket in parts but we didn't capitalise on a great platform in the first innings. On a pitch like that you need a significant score. South Africa bowled well that second morning and that was where the momentum of that game changed."

And, as even with the measured Flower, he tried to keep the situation in perspective. "Sometimes you are outplayed, regardless of your attempts at dismissal or strategy implemented, so you have to give credit to the opposition," he said. "It would be very hard for me to argue our strategies were successful. But in international sport you'll have huge ups and downs, and our make-up has to deal with those ups and downs."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on August 2, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    @m1991vicky on (August 01 2012, 15:01 PM GMT) Indeed but by the same token we have been told by a number of Indian fans that last year we beat an ageing batting line up etc. So are Sachin , Gambhir , Sehwag and VVS growing younger now?

  • JG2704 on August 2, 2012, 7:54 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 01 2012, 11:48 AM GMT) Swann knows they are going 6/1/4 so wouldn't want to be seen as going against the selectors even if he thinks differently himself

  • JG2704 on August 2, 2012, 7:54 GMT

    @reality_check27 on (August 01 2012, 15:20 PM GMT) Maybe you should get your facts right before asking Cricinfo to publish your post. England beat both Pak and SL away in the last decade

  • JG2704 on August 2, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    @ R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 01 2012, 18:27 PM GMT) With 5/1/5 with similar bowling conditions for each side I'd have it as close as 50/50. With 6/1/4 , I'd say SA are strong favourites

  • JG2704 on August 2, 2012, 7:48 GMT

    @iphone1 on (August 02 2012, 03:28) If you're a regular on here you generally realise who supports who after a while

  • iphone1 on August 2, 2012, 3:28 GMT

    What makes ppl think maddy20 is an Indian fan? His post here does not give that impression. Maybe from previous jousting with other readers?? However I am really tired of my fellow countrymen bringing up India in all forums/ available cyber space. Our fans (some of them) still cannot digest last year's defeat. Anyways, I am looking forward to a nice test match. It will be nice to see a fierce battle, on the field of course !!!!!!!!!!!! But going by what happened last match, I guess I am biased with my prediction. SA to win !!!!

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 1, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    @JG2704 (post on August 01 2012, 12:25 PM GMT): Yup, totally agree. Ahhh don't remind me of Simon Jones... what a great bowler when he was fit! Fantastic during that 2005 series. If only we had him 100% fit in the team now! Predictions for second game?

  • balajik1968 on August 1, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    Let us see how he does. Thing is, in the last few years, the England batting order has been pretty much a closed shop, with only 2 guys Trott and Morgan breaking in and Morgan has lost his place in the team. So England could do with some new blood. Also England needs to start thinking beyond Strauss, clearly he has been struggling for some time. The West Indies series gave him breathing space, but unless he does something in the next 2 tests, England should start looking beyond. As for the Headingley wicket, if it is a seamer's paradise, South Africa have the firepower to sting England. Let us watch.

  • phoenixsteve on August 1, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    Maddy20 seems to be unaware the God (that great umpire in the sky) is of an Englishman. As the supreme being he knows that losing is just part of the game. He knows that there's no disgrace in losing to a better side. I also think he's sick and tired of every cricket forum being about India! That's probably why he arranged a power cut in that country to keep all those computers/fanatics silent! Now THAT is food for thought....... :~)

  • on August 1, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    Following is series record between India Vs England for last ten years: India in England 2002 Drawn 1-1 (3) England in India 2005/06 Drawn 1-1 (3) India in England 2007 India 1-0 (3) England in India 2008/09 India 1-0 (2) India in England 2011 Eng 4-0 (4 - the famous bashing) The above results show , overall England lead 5-4 but India has won series both in India and in England. So India are not necessarily flat track bullies while English do seem to struggle in winning in India. Also England are still to visit India to complete the cycle. So before we glorify either India or England lets wait till England come to India.

    Comparison in ODIs should not be done as India are not only way better than England but also India has one ODI world cup in last ten years. The statistics are (India's results first): Neutral venues 2-0 (1 game tied), in India 15-1 (two drubbings of 5-0 and one of 5-1), in England 4-7 (including the last 3-0 drubbing). Results from 1st August 2002

  • JG2704 on August 2, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    @m1991vicky on (August 01 2012, 15:01 PM GMT) Indeed but by the same token we have been told by a number of Indian fans that last year we beat an ageing batting line up etc. So are Sachin , Gambhir , Sehwag and VVS growing younger now?

  • JG2704 on August 2, 2012, 7:54 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 01 2012, 11:48 AM GMT) Swann knows they are going 6/1/4 so wouldn't want to be seen as going against the selectors even if he thinks differently himself

  • JG2704 on August 2, 2012, 7:54 GMT

    @reality_check27 on (August 01 2012, 15:20 PM GMT) Maybe you should get your facts right before asking Cricinfo to publish your post. England beat both Pak and SL away in the last decade

  • JG2704 on August 2, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    @ R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 01 2012, 18:27 PM GMT) With 5/1/5 with similar bowling conditions for each side I'd have it as close as 50/50. With 6/1/4 , I'd say SA are strong favourites

  • JG2704 on August 2, 2012, 7:48 GMT

    @iphone1 on (August 02 2012, 03:28) If you're a regular on here you generally realise who supports who after a while

  • iphone1 on August 2, 2012, 3:28 GMT

    What makes ppl think maddy20 is an Indian fan? His post here does not give that impression. Maybe from previous jousting with other readers?? However I am really tired of my fellow countrymen bringing up India in all forums/ available cyber space. Our fans (some of them) still cannot digest last year's defeat. Anyways, I am looking forward to a nice test match. It will be nice to see a fierce battle, on the field of course !!!!!!!!!!!! But going by what happened last match, I guess I am biased with my prediction. SA to win !!!!

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 1, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    @JG2704 (post on August 01 2012, 12:25 PM GMT): Yup, totally agree. Ahhh don't remind me of Simon Jones... what a great bowler when he was fit! Fantastic during that 2005 series. If only we had him 100% fit in the team now! Predictions for second game?

  • balajik1968 on August 1, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    Let us see how he does. Thing is, in the last few years, the England batting order has been pretty much a closed shop, with only 2 guys Trott and Morgan breaking in and Morgan has lost his place in the team. So England could do with some new blood. Also England needs to start thinking beyond Strauss, clearly he has been struggling for some time. The West Indies series gave him breathing space, but unless he does something in the next 2 tests, England should start looking beyond. As for the Headingley wicket, if it is a seamer's paradise, South Africa have the firepower to sting England. Let us watch.

  • phoenixsteve on August 1, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    Maddy20 seems to be unaware the God (that great umpire in the sky) is of an Englishman. As the supreme being he knows that losing is just part of the game. He knows that there's no disgrace in losing to a better side. I also think he's sick and tired of every cricket forum being about India! That's probably why he arranged a power cut in that country to keep all those computers/fanatics silent! Now THAT is food for thought....... :~)

  • on August 1, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    Following is series record between India Vs England for last ten years: India in England 2002 Drawn 1-1 (3) England in India 2005/06 Drawn 1-1 (3) India in England 2007 India 1-0 (3) England in India 2008/09 India 1-0 (2) India in England 2011 Eng 4-0 (4 - the famous bashing) The above results show , overall England lead 5-4 but India has won series both in India and in England. So India are not necessarily flat track bullies while English do seem to struggle in winning in India. Also England are still to visit India to complete the cycle. So before we glorify either India or England lets wait till England come to India.

    Comparison in ODIs should not be done as India are not only way better than England but also India has one ODI world cup in last ten years. The statistics are (India's results first): Neutral venues 2-0 (1 game tied), in India 15-1 (two drubbings of 5-0 and one of 5-1), in England 4-7 (including the last 3-0 drubbing). Results from 1st August 2002

  • RandyOZ on August 1, 2012, 14:06 GMT

    England have more problems than the early settlers. With only Cook and Trott performing, they have 4 slots to fill, and dont even get me started on the popgun attack!!!

  • Pavan_15 on August 1, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    @@JG2704 -- Agreed!! To be honest they've lost all the two tests to add to your point. what i exactly meant was every team is above par and supreme in its own home conditions!! England have a very good record in england...india does too..australia also ..every team!!! There are some dumb emotionally driven fans out here who tend to speak rubbish . They also tend to degrade some very good players who have made their significant contributions so far in the team!!! I was answering them!! Frankly speaking I enjoy the battle between SA vs ENG . Doesn't matter which team makes it..but the competition does serve a lot of entertainment !!! Specially in Tests!

  • anuradha_d on August 1, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    no.6 is a problem for Eng......no.1 is a problem Strauss doesn't score.......no.4 is a problem....KP is at odds with ECB.....we dunno how his focus is ?.....bowling is a probem and now eng will be forced to replace better batsman, Bresnan with Finn.....where wil the run come from other than Trott and Cook

  • JG2704 on August 1, 2012, 12:26 GMT

    @Pavan_15 on (August 01 2012, 10:21 AM GMT) That'll be the last 3 series minus the results from the ODI series in Eng last year then?

  • JG2704 on August 1, 2012, 12:26 GMT

    @SuperSharky on (August 01 2012, 10:19 AM GMT) I'll be honest with you. I'm an English fan but right now if the SA/Eng series finished the way it did , I'd have Eng behind both SA and Australia. In fact since the last Ashes series - and it pains me to say this - Australia have probably been the more consistent side in tests. In fact they have quite a realistic chance of becoming number 1 in tests this year

  • JG2704 on August 1, 2012, 12:25 GMT

    @Selassie-I on (August 01 2012, 09:55 AM GMT) Agreed - I said it a while ago. At least the usuals don't pretend they are anything which they are not. Probably is a usual with a different name

  • JG2704 on August 1, 2012, 12:25 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK - England seem to gradually have gone from 5/1/5 to 6/1/4. IMO our best series win in the last 20 years at least was when we regained the Ashes in 2005 and that was with a 5/1/5 formation essentially and it's gradually gone via Collingwood to a 6/1/4. During that series from 6 below were Flintoff, G Jones, Giles , Hoggard , Harmisson and S Jones. Now in terms of batting would you say that a line up 6-11 of Prior, Bres,Broad,Swann,Jimmy , Finn or Onions is significantly weaker battingwise ? You could also have Woakes as an option for Bres or Broad as he is probably a better bat. In fact surely Woakes performances this season would be good enough just to get him in as a batsman. I feel Compton would be a great player as a wall type player but as we need to push the game forward to win then prob no. Surely 5 bowlers pushes a game forward better than an extra batsman whoever he is

  • veerakannadiga on August 1, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    Go SA Go.......Get them Steyn.Welcome to the big league James Taylor.Good luck to you. Always exciting when a new talent arrives. I am one Indian fan hoping that the match lives up to its billing. In case if any of you are wondering why I am supporting SA ( no it has nothing to do with our drubbing by England, we were pathetic and we deserved that and more), I am an ardent Dale Steyn fan and would like his team to win.AMEN.

  • EnglishCricket on August 1, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    I reckon Taylor will do well for us because I seen him in action in the domestic games and did extraordinary well in fact he scored a century right after KP retired. England should win this coming Test match but that's as long Finn plays.

  • trav29 on August 1, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    @ pavan15 correct me if i am wrong but the last time india played south africa in a test series in india didn't SA also win the first test of that series by an innings ?

  • Hardy1 on August 1, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    A_Vacant_Slip, not that I'm defending India's defeats over the last 12 months which were quite frankly, pathetic, but I'm pretty sure more people are gonna remember what happened in 1983 and 2011 than the Asia Cup and a couple of test match series. Not saying ODIs are better than test matches but when it comes to the world cup, it has that feeling of excitement that test matches rarely generate.

    But anyway this article's about England-South Africa, here's to an England win at Headingley with the bowlers firing again hopefully (first time they've failed in god knows how long in that match) and making it 1-1 so we get to see a pulsating decider at Lord's :)

  • alienfromzog on August 1, 2012, 10:38 GMT

    I increasingly think England should play 5 bowlers.

    Whilst England were winning, it was hard to argue with success but I wonder if the quality of the opposition meant that England got away with only 4 bowlers. On the sub-continent they need 2 spinners and similarly against a good batting side another seemer - particularly if it's Finn who offers something different to the excellent swing bowlers we have.

    More over, I don't think England need 6 Batsmen. Over the past 4 years the No.6 has rarely scored runs when really needed. When you consider that England have Prior as wicket-keeper/batman and a bowling attack with Broad, Swann and Bresnan all of whom can bat and have credible averages, I think it's difficult to argue that England need 6 bowlers.

    AFZ

  • Pavan_15 on August 1, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    Oh Sorry...i forgot!! Even they are getting Thrashed at home...not just a Defeat!! But an Innings DEFEAT!! Difficult to Digest eh?? ....This is what stays!! England was winning at home only!!!! And SA have started break that streak!! Go first save your record of not losing any home series ....then bark here Mr.England Fan!!

  • A_Vacant_Slip on August 1, 2012, 10:22 GMT

    @TheIndiaRockers. thank you for your fine and fantastic HISTORY lesson. At no stage have you mention TEST match and this is Test match series going on in England. Talk so much of 1983 (29 year ago, LOL) if you like, talk so much of ODI if you like - this here is Test match series, so your comment is laughable. NOTHING will change what happen to India in England and Australia in last 12 month. The history that you are sooo fond of will record; In England, lost Test series 4-0, lost ODI 3-0, lost T20. In Australia lost Test series 4-0, lost ODI series. In Asia Cup, did not get to final. Difficult to ignore sooo many defeat, eh? This is what world remember, not what happen in 1983 or 1992 or some other ancient history time. Some people will do anything, ANYTHING to cover their shame. please publish.

  • Pavan_15 on August 1, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    @@A_Vacant_Slip -- Oh Yeah...Mr.Vacant Slip, reminding of a whitewash....i just recollected one..NO two whitewashes consecutively in india ....where all your pace ,batting and fielding strength was outplayed not just once..but in every match!! How do you call that???? England didn't even win a series in india for quite a time...... the last three ODI series....india thrashed your SO CALLED GREAT ENGLAND team with 16-1 comprehensively!!! Go sleep in your own home Mr.England Fan...don't come out of you region cos you're gonna be thrashed and thrashed very badly!!

  • scritty on August 1, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    So many anglophobes in one small website. The naked vitriol and hatred so many of you have towards anything English says a lot more about you than it does about the English. Weather. This summer is officilly the wetest since records began (in 1790 - so about 220 years) we had one good week last week, and one good week in May, other than that March to August has been none stop rain. It's a freak season. October 2011 was very warm. It was 28 degrees on the 30th October (we had snow and minus 5 degrees the year before on the 30th) Last Winter was VERY dry and the country was in drought in March with hosepipe and water bans everywhere. Then Spring came, and the rain started, and other than a couple of days here and there..it hasn't stopped (and looking at the forecast I doubt they will play much cricket during the second test - constant rain)

  • SuperSharky on August 1, 2012, 10:19 GMT

    I agree that England and South Africa are the best sides in World Cricket at the moment, but not with a huge margin. Isn't Australia still second on the rankings ?? I feel that Sri Lanka, India, New Zealand and Bangladesh has lost their peak-form and their form are deteriorating while The Proteas, The West Indies and Pakistan are on the up. England is on a status quo for they are still number one and the Saffers would have never celebrated their Test Match win with so much love and enthusiasm if they thought that England wasn't a good side. It just feels so good when the media makes you the underdog and then you win. Ask the Proteas, Shaun Tomson, Gary Player, Ernie Els, Chad Le Clos, Cameron Van Der Burgh and a lot of Saffers and other sportsmen. If the underdog wins, the celebration is more special.

  • VillageBlacksmith on August 1, 2012, 10:13 GMT

    @baundele... Bopeep was only ever a fop to India & all the indian fans, the largest cricketing world audience (tho not necessarily the most knowledgeable) and to try and get Eng tests/odis on Indian tv and sell $millions$ thru advertising etc etc... nothing else.. he may yet become an ok odi player (tho impossible to tell vs such a feeble aus team) but he never is or was a test player, he just has an Indian name and the essex connection..

  • Selassie-I on August 1, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    Vacant_slip and Mattp - think you are very right guys; fr0ntFoot does sound mysteriously antipodean to me as well. @TheIndiaRockers I would hardly say this is a 'useless' article, it's the coach saying who England are going to play in the biggest test series going on at the moment.. there isn't too much written about Inida/SL at the moment, probably because you've been playing each other about 50 times a year recently and the poor guys at Cricinfo have completely run out of things to write about! Hoping Taylor proves himself, he's been earmarked for some time now, although I would have liked to see Compton perhaps due to this year's county form, or even better finn in and play 5 bowlers, but it's not happening. But, all in all, I'm happy to see Taylor given a go.

  • vrn59 on August 1, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    How about Chris Woakes at 7?

  • WALLZZZ on August 1, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    Posted by A_Vacant_Slip on (August 01 2012, 08:37 AM GMT) ,Only one world to describe england team ie,Medicore...Please publish..

  • wnwn on August 1, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    The only solution is to move Prior up to 6 and bring in Chris Woakes at 7 who is an excellent batsman and bowler with 6 first class hundreds and 244 wickets in 67 matches. This will allow England to play 5 bowlers which are needed against good teams.

  • TheIndiaRockers on August 1, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    English fans are commented on ind vs srilanka article. Thats the reason i have commented in this usless article, so that english fans can view or analyse the englist team performance in a big match...SA is going to trash u. We are going to enjoy & it will be repeated in india

  • veerakannadiga on August 1, 2012, 8:43 GMT

    Ravi Bopara not available due to personal problems or is there anything to read between the lines....

  • TheIndiaRockers on August 1, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    @all English fans see the record of Our Subcontinent teams 1.India Win CWC-50 Over 1983, 2011, World Championship 1985, T-20 World cup 2007, Champions Trophy 2002(Shared with Sri Lanka) and Runner-up in 2003 World cup. 2. Pakistan Win 1992 50 over World cup, 2009 t-20 world cup and runner-up in World championship 1985, 50 over world cup 99 and t-20 world cup 2007.3.Sri lanka win 1996 world cup and runners-up of Cwc-50 Over in 2007, 11 and t-20 world cup 2009. England only Won 1 t-20 world cup and it also because of Pietersen and have lost in finals 3 time last in 1992 vs Pakistan. Since 1983 world cup only once the subcontinent teams have not played in Final its 1987. What have your poms achieved, this all flat track bullies have won outside tooimp thing is in 1985 World championship(Australia and t-20 world cup 2007 (South Africa) they were Subcontinents team playing in finlas whereas all other fast track bullies were coolong there heals in home watching Finals.Lol Except Aussuie..

  • A_Vacant_Slip on August 1, 2012, 8:37 GMT

    @maddy20. OMG you do know how to troll don't you! India fan, of course. Your memory is short. A reminder is needed for you. Last year India "Legend Batsman" were chewed up and spat out by England bowler on so flat wicket like Lords and Oval. If I was India fan I would be thinking to keep quiet here for fear of reminding world how India was ripped to shread in all format in England 2011. You come - reminder are here for you @maddy20. please publish

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 1, 2012, 8:33 GMT

    @JG2704: see what I mean! England are more interested in getting a main-stay batsman at number 6. I don't get it. The likes of Collingwood could be handy as a part-time bowler, so it was always more acceptable to go with 6-1-4. Now they're replacing him with batsmen only, and that's a hell of a lot of bowling to pile onto 4 bowlers. KP, Bell and Trott are not exactly going to tear through any batting line-ups... I really hope this is a double-bluff by Flower, and they'll actually field a 5-1-5! Now is not the time to experiment with Taylor/Compton.

  • Baundele on August 1, 2012, 8:19 GMT

    I am sure many commentators here do not remember that Bopara averaged 91 in the recently concluded 4-0 ODI series in England. He is certainly in good form. He batted at #4 and that is where he belongs. In the test team he has been pushed down to the ever experimental #6 position. And when the whole team lost the match by an innings, it is Bopara who had to go!

  • 12thUmpire on August 1, 2012, 8:18 GMT

    @ozjosh, what dropped? You mean "rested?" "rotated?" :-D Yes after this series, Eng feel they can safely open the door. Long ago they were fond of sending their second team to the subcontinent. They could revive that strategy, and give extended runs to Bopara, Bairstow, et al. till their next series against a strong opposition.

  • JG2704 on August 1, 2012, 8:15 GMT

    @zenboomerang on (August 01 2012, 05:20 AM GMT) The weather is sunshine and showers pretty much all over the country. That's typical England I'm afraid. During the winter we'll get loads of dry days which is no use to anyone then.

  • JG2704 on August 1, 2012, 8:15 GMT

    @Pauline Griffiths on (July 31 2012, 22:00 PM GMT) My post was a response to comms from the 1st commentor on here . If you read my comms properly I'm responding to him/her making RB a scapegoat and if you read his comms they are definitely putting the blame on Ravi's shoulders.

  • on August 1, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    I wish prior could take the six slot /spot and make his own ....followed by bresnan,broad, swan , Finn, Anderson wouldn't that be a sight ..... stop doubting and start believing fellas .

  • Baundele on August 1, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    Feel sorry for Andy. He is talking too much these days. Once England start failing, especially when they start playing some away matches, Flower will be the first one to lose his job.

  • 2929paul on August 1, 2012, 6:48 GMT

    @ozjosh James Taylor is the same height as some bloke called Sachin Tendulkar, who's done ok. Playing the short ball has nothing to do with height. It's about technique and bottle.

  • maddy20 on August 1, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    Not even god can save England's problems now. SA batsmen are born and bred on fast bouncy wickets. They will demolish England with their barrage of short balls. If they prepare a seaming wicket, then its lot easier to play a ball that swings at 130K than one swinging at 150. Needless to say SA's bowlers will have the English batsmen for appetizers and their batsmen will have English bowlers for a full course meal! If I was Flower no.6 would be the last thing on my mind. I would rather be thinking about the bowling that was ripped to shreds in the first game

  • zenboomerang on August 1, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    Not trying to put a mocker on the game, but the weather forecast isn't real great atm & actually getting worse the closer we get to the match... Hope the pitch is a little bit spicy or a draw may be the best we will see...

  • zenboomerang on August 1, 2012, 5:13 GMT

    Well I for one hope that Taylor has a good start to his Test career, his FC record is good & looks promising... With the no.6 postion looking like a fishing expedition in recent times, it would be good for the team for someone to cement that position... As one poster commented, he isn't tall (actually 1.65metre) but that has little relevance to his skills - a good puller & cutter, & not afraid of the hook shot... Curiously the same height as Tendulkar...

  • Percy_Fender on August 1, 2012, 5:12 GMT

    It has been years since someone really good was selected for England. Taylor may be short but could be good otherwise.It will be a waste of effort to try and bounce this man. Gundappa Vishwanath was short but an excellent player of short pitched bowling. James taylor could be like that as well.

  • on August 1, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    England do need to find their own 'Michael Hussey' to fill out that role at No. 6

  • Buggsy on August 1, 2012, 3:14 GMT

    @RodStark, you're right, it's probably not in the county's interests to field their best team, but it is for the players. Selectors are always watching.

  • trav29 on August 1, 2012, 2:59 GMT

    obviously dont know what bopara's "personal reasons" are but without wishing ill will on anyone they really need to be something pretty important for him to make himself unavailable like this.

    after being supposed first choice for both the sri lanka and WI series but picking up minor injuries at the last minute and not playing, he finally gets his chance at the oval and while wasn't alone in being poor, he really never looked the part. he then pulls out of the squad and forces the selectors to make an 11th hour change bringing in someone who will be on debut, hardly an ideal situation for taylor.

    is this just bopara "bottling" it ?

  • NaniIndCri on August 1, 2012, 2:53 GMT

    So Flower agrees Eng can't play well other than in seaming pitches, and all along Eng fans pointing finger at Indian team because they can play only on slow pitches. Hypocrisy at its best.

  • ozjosh on August 1, 2012, 1:25 GMT

    Didn't realise how short this kid is until looking at the image above. He's going to be in for a lot of fun short stuff- especially if the track is as quick and bouncy as predicted. But having said that, hope he does well. He's got a mature head on his shoulders and solid technique from what I've seen of him. Not like the guy he is replacing. I agree with most of the comments re Bopara. He's had his chances- probably not as many as he would have liked/was entitled to- but he's got not excuse. He has enough international experience (ODIs & tests) to know that he needed to graft out his last two innings rather than losing it and wasting his wicket. @Pauline Griffiths: safe to assume in these circumstances that 'personal reasons' are a euphemism for Bopara being dropped. The selectors have allowed him to come out and say this to save face. You only need to look at some of the statements from Flower etc after the news "Door still open for Ravi" to know he was dropped.

  • RodStark on August 1, 2012, 1:14 GMT

    Question: I notice that SA has yet another 2-day game scheduled between the 2nd and 3rd tests, no doubt played 12 aside. Why should the counties take these games seriously and play their best team?

  • fasih123 on August 1, 2012, 0:45 GMT

    Hope if rain doesn't destroy the debut

  • TontonZolaMoukoko on August 1, 2012, 0:32 GMT

    Although I don't really believe that Bopara had the temperament to succeed at test cricket, it's a shame that we couldn't have found out for sure this summer. As for the "personal problems", he hasn't been made a scapegoat as previously suggested, I'd guess that the media have been informed about them but they are serious enough for them to remain a private matter at present. James Taylor is the right choice as replacement though, and should have been the choice made at the beginning of the summer above Bairstow.

  • Meety on August 1, 2012, 0:13 GMT

    @yorkshire-86 - so to recap, you are not a member of the Bopara Fan Club? @AdrianVanDenStael - yeah, I think it would be prudent for people to lay off Bopara for a while. @daintyr - mate, Boucher's "demise" luckily had no influence on this match. Bear in mind that ABdeV dropped (Bell I think) on the 5th day - which under different circumstances could of caused a draw. Luckily it didn't - there were also 2 run out opportunities, that a reasonable person could assume Boucher would of transacted. ABdeV - has a batting average of around 20 as a keeper (less than Boucher's 30 odd), so perhaps it would be wise to hold judgement until a later date? @kitten - well said. @yorkslanka - classic, England's #6 prayers are answered.... by a debutant who has NOT played yet! @The_bowlers_Holding - love your nickname AND loved the last sentence (Hornet's nest?) @yorkshire-86 (loved the last comment) - I like to use Ashraful as the worst specialist batsmen ever.

  • MattyP1979 on July 31, 2012, 23:14 GMT

    @fr0nt-foot_lunge. I see RAndyoz has changed name lol. Like the 0. Eng do have some very good prospects waiting in the wings, if you were English you would know. Trust me which ever Aussie you are NO english fan is scared of Australian cricket. Eng do have a problem at 6 faired dincum. Aus however have 3 good players and 2 of those are 147 years old. Bopara would walk into your side.

  • A_Vacant_Slip on July 31, 2012, 23:08 GMT

    @fr0nt-foot_lunge on (July 31 2012, 20:33 PM GMT) - there is no way on God Green Earth that you are England fan.... Undoubtedly you are someone posing as England fan. Why? please publish.

  • Hello13 on July 31, 2012, 22:36 GMT

    Yorkshire86- you don't follow cricket much do you?

  • Hello13 on July 31, 2012, 22:35 GMT

    Yorkshire 86- you bring up sri lankan stats from his debut. that was 5 years ago. the Australia series was 3 years ago. Clearly they aren't relevant when considering his current ability. fans are showing themselves up big time here. They really don't understand cricket. Bopara basically won them the last odi series, and they criticise his odi form. HE has one bad test, they blame him for everything.

  • RodStark on July 31, 2012, 22:21 GMT

    What England seem to have lost is the "golden touch" the selectors displayed for a while. The team was pretty stable, and the players they brought in were all pretty successful for a while (think Cook, Swann, Trott, Bresnan, Prior, Tremlett, Finn, etc.). I'm hoping Taylor will be in that vein. One thing to think about is that, other than Taylor, the next youngest batsman in our established line-up is Cook. So it would be nice if a younger player (gradually, several younger players) could work their way into the line-up. Otherwise, whether we're "great" or "good" or "over-rated", we're going to have to replace a lot of players at once and face the situation Australia recently had to deal with.

  • on July 31, 2012, 22:00 GMT

    JG2704 and Kitten - Bopara was not made a scapegoat. He withdrew for personal reasons. We don't know what those reasons are but he wasn't dropped. I believe the media had been briefed that he would be included in the squad to be announced on Sunday. Bopara didn't inform management until Saturday night, I believe.

  • yorkshire-86 on July 31, 2012, 21:40 GMT

    Bopara hasnt had 'one bad Test'. He failed miserably against SL, gaining 3 DUCKS in 3 innings in a row, 2 golden. He failed miserably against the Aussies. He has also had something like 70 ODI's in which he produces one good innings for every five 'hang around wasting forty balls scoring naff all then panic and get yourself out' innings. In total across all formats he has had almost 100 lives and seems to be the England 'golden boy' who cannot be discarded because of this unshown 'talent' - strange the last person this accolade was bestowed upon (Ramprakash) became the worst ever batsmen (50+ Tests, specialist batsmen only) to have ever played the game of cricket (statistically, batting average) outside of Bangladesh.

  • on July 31, 2012, 21:28 GMT

    We were poor in the first match, there is no doubt about that, however the biggest problem with the match, while the bowlers didn't take the wickets required, was the batsmen, there was about 5 or 6 dismissals in the match that were poor shots, (Trott, Cook, KP 1st innings, Strauss, Bopara, Trott 2nd innings) and if these hadn't have happened, and we had got to 450-500 the match may have turned out differently. However, in recent years we have shown the mental toughness to come back from a heavy defeat with a decent performance and I have no doubt this will be another one of those situations. Bopara being ruled out is unfortunate for him and I believe unfortunate for England as I think he could have locked down that number 6 position. Hopefully Taylor can make it his though now he's been given the chance. I, personally think that Bresnan (although he hasn't done anything wrong lately) should be dropped and replaced by Finn, as Finn would give the extra pace and agression we need.

  • on July 31, 2012, 21:15 GMT

    @Great_Aussie: Trivia question - who won the world cup in 2011?

  • MattyP1979 on July 31, 2012, 20:53 GMT

    I am actually a big fan of Ravi, which makes it hard to say I hope he never puts on a test shirt again. He has been one of those players largely through no fault of his own that has had his career messed around. Either through injury, or inconsistant selection he has never found his feet (modern day Hick). This has never enabled him to gain confidence as a test player and I am afraid the boat has probably sailed. Good luck to him, but time to look for someone with a bit more luck.

  • The_bowlers_Holding on July 31, 2012, 20:49 GMT

    Well let us hope England make more of a fight but if they do no doubt it will be because they got lucky or can only win at home etc etc. I would bring in Finn for Broad and Taylor to replace Bop but expect Bres to get the chop as he's not trendy enough. I agree with other postesr re: Woakes they need to find a way to get him in soon, I feel sometimes England aren't flexible enough in their approach. What do I know this has been the best England team in my 30 odd years of watching. ps. Lara was better than Tendulkar :)

  • Front-Foot_lunge on July 31, 2012, 20:33 GMT

    It will not only be the number 6 spot that's difficult to fill, KP's imminent departure will mean the No4 slot will also be vacant. Likewise, whose going to open when Strauss falls on his sword after the South Africans win the series? We keep hearing about this amazing depth in English cricket from the media and from fans, but as an english fan, and keen follower of the "journey-man's league" (read: county cricket) I don't see who is coming through. Our bowlers are a busted flush and I fear for what the resurgent Aussies will do to us next year! Not recognising our failings combined with nationalistic hubris is a lethal combination of sporting ignominity!

  • JG2704 on July 31, 2012, 20:22 GMT

    @yorkshire-86 on (July 31 2012, 18:54 PM GMT) Bang wrong using Bop as a scapegoat. Ravi played no part in the debacle in UAE and look what happened there. Strauss and KP hardly showed great examples of valuing their wicket either and even re Bell who fought well for 5 hours - his dismissal was tame.

  • phoenixsteve on July 31, 2012, 20:12 GMT

    Ravi definitely deserves a real chance in the side - at times in the first test he looked like the bowler most likely to take a wicket too! In fact had Strauss held on to his catch it might have been a different result? Might have..... could've.... should've... resting Swann could be a wise gamble- depending on pitch conditions and how England bat? We're in a hole and a departure from 'nornmality' might be a breath of fresh air. My XI would be Cooke, Strauss, Trott, Pieterson, Bell, Taylor, Prior, Broad ,Finn, Onions and Anderson. But what do I know?..... COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • yorkslanka on July 31, 2012, 20:10 GMT

    no pressure on the young lad then ?

  • on July 31, 2012, 20:04 GMT

    Personal Situtation..... you mean like the kind in Patialia House movie?

  • DaveMorton on July 31, 2012, 20:02 GMT

    Where do you guys come from? An Aussie who thinks England overrated! That really is rich. And a Yorkshireman who thinks Bopara a number 10 - clearly he wasn't at Headingley this season to see Ravi stroke our attack to all parts. ALL these Test players are top performers. Play against them in a club game and you would find out. Believe me! That includes Taylor, of course. Highly talented, better fieldsman than Bopara, and perhaps mentally tougher....we'll find out, won't we.

  • 2.14istherunrate on July 31, 2012, 19:55 GMT

    Taylor has been earmarked for an England career for so long that it's reasonable he should just get on with it. He may not have scored loads of Championship matches but time and time agin he has shown big match temperament in his outings for the Lions. It is justy that way with some players. i do not think Ravi should be blamed for his unavailability- things just happen in life- and being injured is a similar non-offence. He does just happen to be unlucky in his timing.

  • kitten on July 31, 2012, 19:52 GMT

    I am very surprised that Bopara is being made the scapegoat for our abysmal performance in the first test. Let's face it, the whole team fared badly, with the exception of Cook, Trott, and KP to some extent in the first innings, and Bell in the second. Regarding the bowling, the less said the better. We were beaten fair and square by a better team in OUR conditions, and I am glad that Swann and Anderson have said so in no uncertain terms. Blaming the conditions in UAE, is the same as India blaming the conditions in England when they lost so badly. If a team is really good, they should be able to play under any conditions, like the Australians did over the years, and also the Great WI teams of the past. Once, we recognise our failings, we can endeavour to put some of the things right, and hopefully give a better performance in the test at Headingley. I am sure England will put up a much better show.

  • daintyr on July 31, 2012, 19:45 GMT

    The unfortunate demise of Boucher appears to be very fortuituos for South Africa. With AB keeping, JP was able to claim a spot in the XI. This allowed South Africa to play 7 frontline batsmen, 5 frontline bowlers (yes Kallis is a frontline bowler) and a partimer in JP Duminy. I cantg think of a team better balanced! At the sametime, England cannot afford to prepare wickets to match their strength (seam bowling) because its also South Africa's strength, and Steyn is a cut above all. South Africa's batting is also stronger and deeper than England's. This should have been at minimum a 4-test series.

  • warneneverchuck on July 31, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    My prediction 3-0. This eng team is highly overrated team like India

  • AdrianVanDenStael on July 31, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    It's only a few weeks since England won a one-day series against Australia 4-0, with several of the players also in their test side, not least Ravi Bopara, doing very well. Something seems to have gone radically wrong for Bopara, and while I don't know for certain, it would seem to me that the unfair criticism which has been thrown at him in the aftermath of England's defeat from certain so-called "experts" and "fans" cannot have helped. Yes he didn't have a very good game at the Oval, but he was not personally responsible for the defeat; just about every other England player had a game which, with apologies to Mr. Flower, was indeed "dismal".

  • hhillbumper on July 31, 2012, 19:02 GMT

    Taylor should be a bonus.Shame for Bopara as for some reason he seems unable to put it together against the top teams.This generations Mike Gatting or this generations Hick?

  • Pratchett on July 31, 2012, 19:02 GMT

    If Taylor is earmarked to be the #6, then ECB could have timed his inclusion a little better... Isn't he being set-up to fail here? Oh well, maybe he proves me wrong... Poor Ravi

  • Hello13 on July 31, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    Blaming conditions. typical. the way the english media and fans treat bopara is ridiculous. One bad test, and he gets all the blame.

  • yorkshire-86 on July 31, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    Luckly Bopara was unavailible for this game, or we would yet again be condemded to play ten men against South Africa. Look what the difference between the team unbeatable at home and that that was destroyed by SA a couple of weeks ago - Bopara. He is a liability in the field, takes up overs better bowlers should have bowled, and as for his dire batting, on averages alone he should bat 9, only above Swann and Anderson. On natural talent he drops below Swann, as we have seen Swann bat well against top attacks. On mental strength he drops down to jack, Anderson has shown more mental resilience and the ability to keep his wicket intact than the woeful Bopara...

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  • yorkshire-86 on July 31, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    Luckly Bopara was unavailible for this game, or we would yet again be condemded to play ten men against South Africa. Look what the difference between the team unbeatable at home and that that was destroyed by SA a couple of weeks ago - Bopara. He is a liability in the field, takes up overs better bowlers should have bowled, and as for his dire batting, on averages alone he should bat 9, only above Swann and Anderson. On natural talent he drops below Swann, as we have seen Swann bat well against top attacks. On mental strength he drops down to jack, Anderson has shown more mental resilience and the ability to keep his wicket intact than the woeful Bopara...

  • Hello13 on July 31, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    Blaming conditions. typical. the way the english media and fans treat bopara is ridiculous. One bad test, and he gets all the blame.

  • Pratchett on July 31, 2012, 19:02 GMT

    If Taylor is earmarked to be the #6, then ECB could have timed his inclusion a little better... Isn't he being set-up to fail here? Oh well, maybe he proves me wrong... Poor Ravi

  • hhillbumper on July 31, 2012, 19:02 GMT

    Taylor should be a bonus.Shame for Bopara as for some reason he seems unable to put it together against the top teams.This generations Mike Gatting or this generations Hick?

  • AdrianVanDenStael on July 31, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    It's only a few weeks since England won a one-day series against Australia 4-0, with several of the players also in their test side, not least Ravi Bopara, doing very well. Something seems to have gone radically wrong for Bopara, and while I don't know for certain, it would seem to me that the unfair criticism which has been thrown at him in the aftermath of England's defeat from certain so-called "experts" and "fans" cannot have helped. Yes he didn't have a very good game at the Oval, but he was not personally responsible for the defeat; just about every other England player had a game which, with apologies to Mr. Flower, was indeed "dismal".

  • warneneverchuck on July 31, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    My prediction 3-0. This eng team is highly overrated team like India

  • daintyr on July 31, 2012, 19:45 GMT

    The unfortunate demise of Boucher appears to be very fortuituos for South Africa. With AB keeping, JP was able to claim a spot in the XI. This allowed South Africa to play 7 frontline batsmen, 5 frontline bowlers (yes Kallis is a frontline bowler) and a partimer in JP Duminy. I cantg think of a team better balanced! At the sametime, England cannot afford to prepare wickets to match their strength (seam bowling) because its also South Africa's strength, and Steyn is a cut above all. South Africa's batting is also stronger and deeper than England's. This should have been at minimum a 4-test series.

  • kitten on July 31, 2012, 19:52 GMT

    I am very surprised that Bopara is being made the scapegoat for our abysmal performance in the first test. Let's face it, the whole team fared badly, with the exception of Cook, Trott, and KP to some extent in the first innings, and Bell in the second. Regarding the bowling, the less said the better. We were beaten fair and square by a better team in OUR conditions, and I am glad that Swann and Anderson have said so in no uncertain terms. Blaming the conditions in UAE, is the same as India blaming the conditions in England when they lost so badly. If a team is really good, they should be able to play under any conditions, like the Australians did over the years, and also the Great WI teams of the past. Once, we recognise our failings, we can endeavour to put some of the things right, and hopefully give a better performance in the test at Headingley. I am sure England will put up a much better show.

  • 2.14istherunrate on July 31, 2012, 19:55 GMT

    Taylor has been earmarked for an England career for so long that it's reasonable he should just get on with it. He may not have scored loads of Championship matches but time and time agin he has shown big match temperament in his outings for the Lions. It is justy that way with some players. i do not think Ravi should be blamed for his unavailability- things just happen in life- and being injured is a similar non-offence. He does just happen to be unlucky in his timing.

  • DaveMorton on July 31, 2012, 20:02 GMT

    Where do you guys come from? An Aussie who thinks England overrated! That really is rich. And a Yorkshireman who thinks Bopara a number 10 - clearly he wasn't at Headingley this season to see Ravi stroke our attack to all parts. ALL these Test players are top performers. Play against them in a club game and you would find out. Believe me! That includes Taylor, of course. Highly talented, better fieldsman than Bopara, and perhaps mentally tougher....we'll find out, won't we.