England v Australia, 4th Test, Headingley, 3rd day August 9, 2009

Desperate times, desperate measures?

Change for change's sake is something that the England management rarely sees fit to sanction, even when the cosiness on display becomes so self-serving that it is ridiculed in pre-series dossiers by high-profile former opponents
55

In the desperate summer of 1989, England's selectors churned their way through 29 players, only two of whom - the captain, David Gower, and the wicketkeeper, Jack Russell - featured in all six Tests. Graham Gooch asked to be dropped at Trent Bridge after his form fell through the floor, while Mike Gatting got so disillusioned with the whole national set-up, he cut a deal with Ali Bacher and recruited half the team for a rebel tour of South Africa.

Twenty years on, and things haven't quite got that bad for England just yet. For starters, they are all-square in the Ashes with one Test to play, a position of considerable strength compared to their travails in every previous series of the past two decades, barring of course the anomaly of 2005. The situation is far from panic stations, as Andrew Strauss made predictably clear, as he called for "calm reflection" in the aftermath of another remarkable English humiliation.

And yet, there really is a case for, if not a herd-instinct stampede, then at least an injection of adrenalin ahead of England's most significant Test since they last faced Australia at The Oval, four years ago. As recently as Friday, England had hoped that their showdown in SE11 would be a dead-rubber at best, and an Australian must-win at worst. Instead, all the onus is on England to force the pace and reclaim the series lead they had held since Lord's, and it's hard to see how that is possible with a flat-lining middle-order that has contributed 16 runs for six dismissals in 17 overs.

So far in the series, England have used a mere 14 players - and two of their call-ups, Steve Harmison for Andrew Flintoff and Ian Bell for Kevin Pietersen - have come about as a consequence of injury. But as of the end of the Headingley debacle, not a single one of the chosen few averages either 50 with the bat, or below 30 with the ball. A few come close, most notably Strauss, but the overall impression is that England are all too content to wallow in mediocrity.

Since crashing three centuries in consecutive innings against West Indies, Ravi Bopara has barely scraped into three figures in his next seven innings, with a tally of 105 runs at 15 so far in the series. Since starting strongly with back-to-back fifties at Cardiff, Paul Collingwood has mustered 87 runs in his next five visits to the crease, with his technique against the outswinger sorely undermined. And as for Bell, he was stunningly fortunate to reach a half-century at Edgbaston, when he might have been pinned lbw at least twice, but this week's returns of 8 and 3 are a fairer reflection of his timidity under fire.

"We need to look at what's happened in this game, and the last four games to be honest, before coming together with the selectors to talk about what route we need to go down," said Strauss. "Obviously that middle-order display was below what we need and the guys know that. They need to learn a lesson from that. But I don't think you should get carried away. Everyone's capable of getting out and making mistakes. That's the game of cricket for you."

That may be so, but it's also a predictable response. Change for change's sake is something that the England management rarely sees fit to sanction, even when the cosiness on display becomes so self-serving that it is ridiculed in pre-series dossiers by high-profile former opponents. Justin Langer's leaked document, in which he asserts that English players are "flat and lazy" and liable to crumble when put under pressure, has been shown to be spot on, just as it happened to be when England last lost a Test match, again in humiliating circumstances, at Sabina Park in February.

"All I'd say is it's time for calm reflection and selections should be based on a calm reflective manner," said Strauss. "If you're thinking about wholesale changes I'd be very resistant to that, but whatever decision we come to, hopefully we've thought through it properly. And we pick the right XI to win that Test match."

In 1989, England went into the Oval Test (with rather less at stake) with two debutants, John Stephenson and Alan Igglesden - one never played again, the other had to wait five years for two further opportunities. Such a strategy would hardly be advised this time around, but there is a case for giving the flick to continuity, which has done nothing but expose Bopara's limitations and offer Bell innumerable opportunities to prove his lack of cojones, and appeal to a pair of county veterans to answer the call one last time. What's the worst that could happen? It would be hard to undercut a return of 16 for 6.

On Saturday at Edgbaston, Marcus Trescothick scored his sixth first-class century of the season to move clear on 1330 runs as the leading run-scorer in the County Championship. Tucked in just behind him, on 1209 but with an average that is now in excess of 100, is none other than Mark Ramprakash. For contrasting reasons, neither man has featured in the England reckoning for more than three years, and in Ramprakash's case, the best part of a decade, but in that time he has become the 25th player, and surely the last, to score 100 first-class hundreds.

According to sources close to Trescothick, the chances of him coming out of retirement, even for a one-off valedictory performance, are next to nil, although Justin Langer, his county captain at Somerset and adversary in two Ashes campaigns, told Cricinfo that his character and ability would be just what England need to re-establish their presence after such a humbling Test match.

"It would be a massive call [to select Trescothick]," said Langer, "but he is a great player and you can't believe how well he's batting at the moment. I would not be surprised at all if he got a call asking whether he would play [at The Oval], but that would open up a big can of worms.

"Would it just be a one-off?" he asked. "Would he just play Tests that weren't overseas? Then you might get a situation where other players ask to not go on overseas tours. You've also got to think about the message you're sending to the younger players out there. Tres and Ramps are sensational players, though. I can't talk highly enough of them."

Given the stress-related illness that led to Trescothick's retirement, the likelihood of him agreeing to a recall would be remote in the extreme, but in Ramprakash's case, it cannot be entirely ruled out, given that he was mentioned in England dispatches as recently as 2007.

"We've got to make a judgment call about the best 11 players to win that last Test," said Strauss. "It's 1-1 in the series and the winner takes all. You need 11 guys to stand up to want it enough and be desperate enough to win it. If you get that situation you've got a good chance to win it."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mikeboz on August 14, 2009, 14:27 GMT

    Hey guys, bowlers win matches and this is a game England must win. Second spinner? Adil Rashid - he is actually in the squad. 5-41 and 117*, at least he's in form which cannot be said as far as 'Mony' is concerned.

  • Nutcutlet on August 12, 2009, 18:18 GMT

    The main reason Ramprakash has not been selected over the last few years, when his form has been phenomenal, is because the selectors do not want to be embarrassed. If he is selected and succeeds - what a monstrous cricketing injustice will be exposed! I wonder whether selectors, like most people in authority, can stomach the eating of humble pie? Ramps is a far more mature player and person now than he was when he was last being messed around with by some weird and inconsistent selectorial decisions - had he been Australian the selectors would have stuck by him, as they recognise class and back it every time. He has only the county stage to prove himself upon and this he has done emphatically and consistently. Finally,an average of 42 against Oz in its modern golden era is hardly an argument against his non-selection, is it? Does England want to win regain the Ashes? Pick the best batsman in England currently available then! Small spoons are available for the eating of the pie!

  • Gazzypops on August 11, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    To tling and others, Ramps has a poor overall Test record, certainly, but - paradoxically - has a very good record against Australia. Averaging over 42 against them. He's also scored a century against them at The Oval in 2001 (when no other England player, Tresco, Vaughan, Butcher, Hussain, and Stewart included, got past 55) . Horse for a course, but we should look to win this series, first and foremost. Supplement him with Trott or Key (who also has a moderate Test record, and a woeful one against the Aussies - averaging a smidgeon over 17 against them) and ditch Bell and Bopara. Our bowling has been similarly dreadful and needs a leader. Flintoff certainly fills that role but went awol at Edgbaston when we should have been pressing for victory. Sidebottom must play. Heck, Harmison might suit The Oval pitch too. Broad needs to prove himself, though, as he was greatly flattered at Headingley (he didn't remotely change the game in England's favour). Swann OR Broad, I'd say.

  • karthikrg on August 11, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    What happene to Kent opening batsman Joe Denly?????

  • hawkesy on August 11, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    The next Test is massive for the whole country, remember how in 2005 the nation was gripped by Ashes fever. We need to forget the future for now and pick the strongest team available. I believe that if Trescothick can be persuaded to play for this one match then he must be picked, along with Ramprakash and Key. Therefore, my batting order would be: 1. Trescothick 2. Strauss. 3. Ramprakash. 4. Key 5. Collingwood. 6. Prior 7. Flintoff . 8. Swann. 9. Anderson. 10. Harmison. 11. Panesar. This is a well balanced side, one I believe is well equipped for the Oval, (pace and bounce) . Lets win the Ashes and celebrate, then bring back Bopara/Cook for extended spells in the side, then hopefully they will be ready for the Ashes in Oz next time round.

  • whits106 on August 11, 2009, 7:54 GMT

    To be honest, Strauss is right. You don't want to go in and tear the side to shreads, you just need to be thoughtful in the selection process. It's funny how one loss puts you right in the spotlight. What about for Australia? Mike Hussey's efforts over his last 25 or so dig's have been average at best and hasn't scored a hundred for over a year! Yet he get's selected every time. It's been yet again another over-reaction and knock up by the media. Or Mitchell Johnson - He was absolutely TERRIBLE for three tests, and wasn't even up to the standard of a First Class match, let alone Test cricket, yet he still played and look what happened. The only changes I would make is: Flintoff is fit - in for Anderson. Move Bell to 3, Collingwood to 4 and Bopara to 5. It's obvious Bopara has talent, just not the temprement for number 3, and is more suited down the order. Geeze, England lose one test and suddenly they're the worst team in cricket history, the series is 1-1 remember? Not 4 - 0.

  • BoundryWarrior on August 11, 2009, 0:51 GMT

    If England are considering Ramprakash, the perhaps they should exercise an open mind on selection. Bring back Brian Close! He would not leet England down as Collingwood, Bopara and Bell have done repeatedly. Is there no young player in England to starting through? Gatting might be an option as there will be no Warne. Even Botham's an option. Or see who in South Africa has a British passport and ask them to come over..! If this is the state of English cricket, clean out the ECCB and start again. This is a sad day for the father's of the game. Perhaps the urn should be filled with the ashes of English cricket...!

  • srtedulkar on August 11, 2009, 0:16 GMT

    Bopara has to go. He is not fit to be a number 3 against good bowling attacks unless he improves his temperament. I would ideally want a man in form to replace him and Ramprakash might not be the worst choice ever, I would still have Bell in my team. Obviously Flintoff is going to play so I expect it to be a closely fought game and hope england can pull it off for Freddie thereby adding to his ashes legacy.

  • cloudmess on August 10, 2009, 21:57 GMT

    I still think we can win the Ashes, & with the same players. Holding the no1 side to 1-1 after 4 tests is hardly the mark of a poor team: Bopara - less words. Get down to the nets and sort out your defensive technique. Don't be scared of the Aussies! Collingwood - OK, a couple of poor matches, but don't forget he single-handedly saved the Cardiff test. The Ashes would have been gone by now. Bell - pretend nos 1 - 3 have already scored centuries before you go into bat. Media - stop writing all this negative stuff that England only bowl well in "helpful" conditions. Very English. Would you prefer them to waste the conditions then? Batting line-up - in the previous 3 tests, England were not bowled out for less than 376. One poor match ( & partly being caught on a drying wicket on first day) does not justify all these calls to sack half the team & re-instate unsuccessful relics from the 1990s. Finally... have a proper inspection of the wicket next time.

  • phoenixsteve on August 10, 2009, 19:40 GMT

    To change or not to change? Not really a serious question IF you want to beat a class side like Australia! The soft underbelly of English cricket has yet again been exposed and some changes MUST be made if we want to win at the Oval. For years and years now, the 'public schoolboy professiona'l has demonstrated that they are too soft for World cricket.Out would go Bell, Cook, Bopara and Harmison (hopefully he will take the hint and retire) and in should come players with form and ambition. I would include Ramps - he surely deserves a chance based on form and consistency; what a ftitting tribute to a wonderful career this would be? We should do what ever we can to implore Marcus Trescothick to heed the Nation's call. In an ideal world my 12 would include Trescothick, Ramprakash, Sidebottom, Panesar, Broad, Collingwood, Swann, Strauss, Anderson, Prior, Flintoff, Trott. Radical changes perhaps, but the current 'formula' is not going to win us anything! C'mon England - well played Aussies!

  • mikeboz on August 14, 2009, 14:27 GMT

    Hey guys, bowlers win matches and this is a game England must win. Second spinner? Adil Rashid - he is actually in the squad. 5-41 and 117*, at least he's in form which cannot be said as far as 'Mony' is concerned.

  • Nutcutlet on August 12, 2009, 18:18 GMT

    The main reason Ramprakash has not been selected over the last few years, when his form has been phenomenal, is because the selectors do not want to be embarrassed. If he is selected and succeeds - what a monstrous cricketing injustice will be exposed! I wonder whether selectors, like most people in authority, can stomach the eating of humble pie? Ramps is a far more mature player and person now than he was when he was last being messed around with by some weird and inconsistent selectorial decisions - had he been Australian the selectors would have stuck by him, as they recognise class and back it every time. He has only the county stage to prove himself upon and this he has done emphatically and consistently. Finally,an average of 42 against Oz in its modern golden era is hardly an argument against his non-selection, is it? Does England want to win regain the Ashes? Pick the best batsman in England currently available then! Small spoons are available for the eating of the pie!

  • Gazzypops on August 11, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    To tling and others, Ramps has a poor overall Test record, certainly, but - paradoxically - has a very good record against Australia. Averaging over 42 against them. He's also scored a century against them at The Oval in 2001 (when no other England player, Tresco, Vaughan, Butcher, Hussain, and Stewart included, got past 55) . Horse for a course, but we should look to win this series, first and foremost. Supplement him with Trott or Key (who also has a moderate Test record, and a woeful one against the Aussies - averaging a smidgeon over 17 against them) and ditch Bell and Bopara. Our bowling has been similarly dreadful and needs a leader. Flintoff certainly fills that role but went awol at Edgbaston when we should have been pressing for victory. Sidebottom must play. Heck, Harmison might suit The Oval pitch too. Broad needs to prove himself, though, as he was greatly flattered at Headingley (he didn't remotely change the game in England's favour). Swann OR Broad, I'd say.

  • karthikrg on August 11, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    What happene to Kent opening batsman Joe Denly?????

  • hawkesy on August 11, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    The next Test is massive for the whole country, remember how in 2005 the nation was gripped by Ashes fever. We need to forget the future for now and pick the strongest team available. I believe that if Trescothick can be persuaded to play for this one match then he must be picked, along with Ramprakash and Key. Therefore, my batting order would be: 1. Trescothick 2. Strauss. 3. Ramprakash. 4. Key 5. Collingwood. 6. Prior 7. Flintoff . 8. Swann. 9. Anderson. 10. Harmison. 11. Panesar. This is a well balanced side, one I believe is well equipped for the Oval, (pace and bounce) . Lets win the Ashes and celebrate, then bring back Bopara/Cook for extended spells in the side, then hopefully they will be ready for the Ashes in Oz next time round.

  • whits106 on August 11, 2009, 7:54 GMT

    To be honest, Strauss is right. You don't want to go in and tear the side to shreads, you just need to be thoughtful in the selection process. It's funny how one loss puts you right in the spotlight. What about for Australia? Mike Hussey's efforts over his last 25 or so dig's have been average at best and hasn't scored a hundred for over a year! Yet he get's selected every time. It's been yet again another over-reaction and knock up by the media. Or Mitchell Johnson - He was absolutely TERRIBLE for three tests, and wasn't even up to the standard of a First Class match, let alone Test cricket, yet he still played and look what happened. The only changes I would make is: Flintoff is fit - in for Anderson. Move Bell to 3, Collingwood to 4 and Bopara to 5. It's obvious Bopara has talent, just not the temprement for number 3, and is more suited down the order. Geeze, England lose one test and suddenly they're the worst team in cricket history, the series is 1-1 remember? Not 4 - 0.

  • BoundryWarrior on August 11, 2009, 0:51 GMT

    If England are considering Ramprakash, the perhaps they should exercise an open mind on selection. Bring back Brian Close! He would not leet England down as Collingwood, Bopara and Bell have done repeatedly. Is there no young player in England to starting through? Gatting might be an option as there will be no Warne. Even Botham's an option. Or see who in South Africa has a British passport and ask them to come over..! If this is the state of English cricket, clean out the ECCB and start again. This is a sad day for the father's of the game. Perhaps the urn should be filled with the ashes of English cricket...!

  • srtedulkar on August 11, 2009, 0:16 GMT

    Bopara has to go. He is not fit to be a number 3 against good bowling attacks unless he improves his temperament. I would ideally want a man in form to replace him and Ramprakash might not be the worst choice ever, I would still have Bell in my team. Obviously Flintoff is going to play so I expect it to be a closely fought game and hope england can pull it off for Freddie thereby adding to his ashes legacy.

  • cloudmess on August 10, 2009, 21:57 GMT

    I still think we can win the Ashes, & with the same players. Holding the no1 side to 1-1 after 4 tests is hardly the mark of a poor team: Bopara - less words. Get down to the nets and sort out your defensive technique. Don't be scared of the Aussies! Collingwood - OK, a couple of poor matches, but don't forget he single-handedly saved the Cardiff test. The Ashes would have been gone by now. Bell - pretend nos 1 - 3 have already scored centuries before you go into bat. Media - stop writing all this negative stuff that England only bowl well in "helpful" conditions. Very English. Would you prefer them to waste the conditions then? Batting line-up - in the previous 3 tests, England were not bowled out for less than 376. One poor match ( & partly being caught on a drying wicket on first day) does not justify all these calls to sack half the team & re-instate unsuccessful relics from the 1990s. Finally... have a proper inspection of the wicket next time.

  • phoenixsteve on August 10, 2009, 19:40 GMT

    To change or not to change? Not really a serious question IF you want to beat a class side like Australia! The soft underbelly of English cricket has yet again been exposed and some changes MUST be made if we want to win at the Oval. For years and years now, the 'public schoolboy professiona'l has demonstrated that they are too soft for World cricket.Out would go Bell, Cook, Bopara and Harmison (hopefully he will take the hint and retire) and in should come players with form and ambition. I would include Ramps - he surely deserves a chance based on form and consistency; what a ftitting tribute to a wonderful career this would be? We should do what ever we can to implore Marcus Trescothick to heed the Nation's call. In an ideal world my 12 would include Trescothick, Ramprakash, Sidebottom, Panesar, Broad, Collingwood, Swann, Strauss, Anderson, Prior, Flintoff, Trott. Radical changes perhaps, but the current 'formula' is not going to win us anything! C'mon England - well played Aussies!

  • Streamgazer on August 10, 2009, 19:33 GMT

    It has been quite obvious that for some time Ian Bell is below test class as a batsman. Likewise with Ravi Bopara - tons against probably the poorest West Indies attack in history have now been put into their proper context. Aside from KP, Trescothick and Ramprakash are the best two batsmen in England by some distance. That is not opinion, it is fact. In olden days they would both have been back in the side by now, if available. Today's mindset is different - its stick with who you've got because they're young and have a future - even if they're not good enough! For this Test its different - winner takes all and the best batting line-up Engalnd could put out would have Ramps & Trescothick in the team. Will it happen? I wouldn't hesitate to bring both in - it would give the Aussies something to contend with. Remember Bell & Bopara's confidence is shattered already whereas Ramps & Trescothick are at the top of their game. Come on Geoff Miller, get your head out of the sand!

  • roflrofl60 on August 10, 2009, 18:05 GMT

    Selecting ramps would be a horrible decision. that would be a huge step back for their time, bopara is clearly not in form, nor is collingwood, its time to move on. There has been a lot of talk about Stephen Moore and Joe Denly. As far as the bowlers onions has not been effective except for one innings, having 1 good or 2 even innings in an ashes series after playing 4 tests is pretty poor. anderson broad have atleast proven themselves before, its time to bring back panesar and have a 3 seamer 2 spinner attack barring that flintoff is fit.

  • FIASNAHK on August 10, 2009, 17:58 GMT

    To those of you who keep pointing at Ramps' test record, you should also notice that hes been out of the team for almost a decade. And to those who say that county cricket is easy to score runs in, then why doesn't anyone else have a hunded 100's to their names? Ramprakash is the best batsmen in england (which isn't very hard to be) and he needs to be picked. Funny, i thought bopara would come out and score alot of runs after shane warnes comment but shane was right hes not good enough to play against the seam attacks of australia or south africa, let him play other countries.

  • archerdpa on August 10, 2009, 17:22 GMT

    I don't think that there is any argument for retaining Bopara in the squad and if Flintoff is fit then he must play. I would replace Harmison with flintoff and Bopara with Foster, Prior would play as a specialst No.5. moving Collingwood to 3 (mainly because he has the fight and resolve when under pressure). My team would be: 1. Strauss 2. Cook 3. Collingwood 4. Bell 5. Prior 6. Foster(WK) 7. Flintoff 8. Broad 9. Swann 10. Anderson 11. Onions/Panesar(depending on pitch conditions). This would allow 5 bowlers to play and recognised batting down to No.9

  • tling on August 10, 2009, 16:52 GMT

    I find even considering Ramprakash simply disturbing, talk about a step backwards, why not recall Hick or maybe Thorpe and let's not rule out John Crawley. Ramprakash has shown time, after time, after time, that he is psychologically not up to it. He has shown in the past that he doesn't deal with pressure well and doesn't play well against Australia, so a must win Ashes test doesn't sound like the place for him.

  • MartinAmber on August 10, 2009, 16:36 GMT

    It's times like these I'm almost embarrassed to be a passionate fan of English cricket.

    Not because we lost, badly. Because of the hysterical over-reaction of the media, and its knock-on effects.

    Those who have read Trescothick's book, or are familiar with his illness, would not expect him to come back. It's a delightful fantasy, and it solves the number three problem by allowing Cook to play there. But nothing more, surely.

    The idea of recalling Ramprakash has more substance, but what will the Australians make of his seven-year absence from Test cricket? And is his record inflated by playing second-division cricket on a perpetual flatbed?

    Key might actually have a future, so he'd be my pick. But this situation is a savage indictment of the England closed shop that allowed the same five or six to play unchallenged for three and a half years. Only Bopara has broken in, and look at his record when he isn't playing the West Indies.

  • cloudmess on August 10, 2009, 16:17 GMT

    Ramprakash has one thing in common with Bradman: they both played in 52 tests. Bradman scored 29 hundreds and averaged 100; Ramprakash made 2 hundreds and averaged 27. So the disparity is not so great, only 27 hundreds and 72+ difference in average in it. At 40, Ramps is clearly still the best batsmen in the country. In fact, in the world - the selectors should hang themselves.

  • cloudmess on August 10, 2009, 16:13 GMT

    The bring back Ramprakash campaign is just bonkers. We're back to the bad old, pre-Duncan Fletcher days of picking batsmen on county form. Ramps has ALWAYS scored millions of runs at county levels. Does no-one remember? In the 1990s, he'd score a double century for Middlesex, get picked for England, go into his shell, and score a tortured 14 before getting out. Ramps is a great county player, but he needs a comfort level to excel in - the sort he is denied at test level. After Bopara made all those easy runs against a weak WI side, the England management really should have taken note at the way he strutted around like the new Bradman, dispensing patronising advice to Cook and Pieterson, and being late for team meetings. As ever, these warning signals seem to go unheeded, and it's left to the Aussie bowlers to bring Bopara down a peg or two. Pick Trescothick for Bopara if he is fit. Otherwise, I'm sorry lads, you have to stick with the same team now; you forced Vaughan to retire.

  • AncientAstronaut on August 10, 2009, 16:06 GMT

    England *must* play Flintoff in the final test. It's shocking to learn that they didn't play him even when he was ready to, and now they find themselves in a situation where they have to win the last match to reclaim the Ashes. As for Trescothick, they should definitely consider asking him to play a one-off. He's the best English batsman there is, and he can't play. What irony. And Ramprakash should be picked. Bell and Bopara have to go. If they play, England's a goner.

  • Dhanno on August 10, 2009, 15:39 GMT

    Hell yea if England bring on Ramps, Ponting should just declare that out of respect and concern for Ramps's health aussies will be playing the team of retirees, i.e Langer, Hayden, Martyn, GIlly, Mcgrath, Warne, Gillispie etc.. That would be amazing, England will be still beaten and 2005 will be avenged by the same guys who lost it.. (maybe ponting can still captain the team and brett lee plays)

  • WilliamFranklin on August 10, 2009, 15:35 GMT

    btw way Ramps didn't get his highest score last week, he only got 274, his highest score is 301.

  • madmax1979 on August 10, 2009, 14:50 GMT

    Paul Collingwood should be dropped...young players like Trott should make their mark now.Ian Bell is such a poor batsman...and as for Ravi Bopara he needs time to find his feet...Monty Panesar should play instead of Swann.Stuart Broad's performance in the last test obviously justifies his place in the team.England need not panic..also why is Tim Bresnan not playing..It's time to forget about Steve Harmison...he is useless....England needs young players...forget about Tresco and Ramprakash...Robert Key needs to bat at three..Trott at four..Prior at five,Flintoff at six , Broad at seven,Bresnan at eight,Anderson at nine,Panesar at 10 and Onions at 11.

  • Dhanno on August 10, 2009, 14:41 GMT

    I cant enjoy this more! You should get Ramps back in team and if you persist with him, he will definitely score a hundred in your next home ashes (yeah he hits one every 46 innings!).. WI can somehow get 11 altogether new unemployed's in matter of 12 hrs, Pakistan can find a 15 year old every other game who either chucks (within 15 degree!) or is on dope, but all England can muster is a Ramprakash and Tresco ?? Did you guys just close down the shop and been sleeping since 2000 ? BTW those who have any suspense about the result of this ashes, go check my prediction before 3rd test!

  • pranjamtheloser on August 10, 2009, 14:25 GMT

    I totally agree with experts who are calling for a recall of Trescothick and Ramprakash. I think england should also recall botham and gooch. I mean look at Botham's record its much better than flintoff and Gooch certainly was not a 'pussy'. Ofcourse not to mention Gatting himself. I mean if you are looking at county records for recalling people and asking people to come out of retirment just call the greats themselves that would be some english team with Gooch and Strauss opening and trescothick at no 3.

  • Rastus on August 10, 2009, 13:15 GMT

    Picking Key and Ramprakash would be the best and boldest option. Ramprakash has probably been the best batsman in the world over the last few years, especially at The Oval. Unfortunately the selectors' pride won't allow them to do what needs to be done. It would be admitting they made a mistake. Bopara is never a test batsman. During each of the 3 hundreds he scored against the West Indies he was dropped 3 or 4 times a luxury you don't get against Australia. It seems like the West Indies poor fielding could cost England the ashes.

  • shak01 on August 10, 2009, 13:11 GMT

    If I was selecting the england side for the 5th test my team would be as follows:

    Cook Strauss Key Ramprakash Carberry/Trott Prior Flintoff (if fit) Broad Anderson Swann Sidebottom

    time and time again Collingwood has shown that he will not play a big innings unless he is told he faces the axe, its time for the selectors to axe him and move on. Bopara while a good player, he lacks confidence and needs to go back and work on his game. Key, Ramprakash and Carberry have been pretty consistent the last few seasons and Carberry is hitting top form at the moment so would be a good chance for him.

    With the series at 1-1 the selectors need to be bold to win the final test and the middle order needs shaking up (if anything it will send a message for future series)

  • Tanuj on August 10, 2009, 12:56 GMT

    My England XI for the final test would read thus:

    Strauss, Cook, Ramprakash, Samit Patel (if the selectors can get over his fitness!), Collingwood, Flintoff, Prior, Rashid, Swann, Broad, Anderson. If Freddie is unfit, Bresnan could be picked to bat at No. 9 and Prior, Rashid and Swann could each move up a spot in the batting order.

  • thewheeler on August 10, 2009, 12:44 GMT

    good shout from tomjs100, but I think that ramprakash would need to produce more than udal and bicknell did to validate selection. And im sure that he would, form considered. Not sure about the absolute madness from Dan-argent and hamalata! dropping broad? were u watching the same test? fair enough before headingly he looked out of his depth but the lad has character and PRODUCED. two spinners? no. not because the oval wont turn, but because 3seamers isnt enough to get 20wickets against the aussies. prior probably would get in for batting alone but not at 3. thats suicide. and foster at 5? hmm. i reckon staight fight between cook and key , a couple of 30s doesnt keep you in the team! Strauss, Cook/Key, Ramps, Bell, Colly, Prior, Flintoff, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Harmison. Over Onions. Just.

  • tomjs100 on August 10, 2009, 12:03 GMT

    Pick Ramprakash. For a decade since he was given his last chance for England, he's got better and better as a batsman, culminating in him making his highest ever score LAST WEEK. England have had a lot of success in bringing in older players. Look at Martin Bicknell or Shaun Udal. Why not with Ramprakash. Everyone who has ever seen him play knows he has the best technique in Britain, and I think now he's older, he'll get his game going perfectly. It's a brave call, but please selectors do something. Bopara is never going to be good enough against good test sides, and is especially not good enough in the next match, after making 100 runs in the entire series.

  • Dan-argent on August 10, 2009, 11:52 GMT

    Obviously, Flintoff must play. it is his final Test, so what does it matter if he is not fully fit? To be honest, I would take him never appearing for the one-day side again if he helped bring England the Ashes. All the players must play for the counties to gain form. Bopara has proved unable to cope with the pressure of an Ashes series. If 105 runs in seven innings is not droppable form, I don't know what is. I would bring in Key and James Foster, and have Prior as a batsman only. I would also only include four bowlers, which means Broad should be dropped. Therefore, my XI is: Strauss, Cook, Key, Collingwood, Prior, Bell, Flintoff, Foster, Harmison, Anderson, Onions.

  • hamalata on August 10, 2009, 11:43 GMT

    I think the top order needs a good shake up. It has benn left alone for too long. Firstly i would play prior as a batsman at 3 and bring in foster behind the stumps. Bring in Trott at 6 and play two spinners Swann and Panesar. 1.Strauss 2.Trescothick 3.Prior 4.Ramprakash 5.Foster 6.Trott 7.Flintoff 8.Broad 9.Swann 10.Anderson 11.Panesar

  • Lakshmana on August 10, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    Its hilarious seeing the English cricketing mentality. 'We may have the most mediocre team in the world and not a hope of competing sustainably for a couple of seasons in all conditions all around the world, but as long as we win the Ashes then all is ok.' Build a team guys don't chop and change for a single game even if it means you may win the Ashes. Neither Ramprakash nor Trescothick are gonna be around for long and bringing them back will not do any good for England in the long term. Keep faith with Bopara, you all know he is quality. Being dropped now will shatter his confidence...build for the future! And Ramprakash is really not that good...yes 100 first class centuries but then again that is all he plays!! Imagine how many centuries a Tendulkar or Dravid would have made if they played as much English first class cricket. Test match level is a whole new ballgame, and Ramprakash is not good enough!!

  • AkhOn on August 10, 2009, 11:18 GMT

    He averages 27 after 52 tests what a load of rubbish we might as well as Graeme Hick to come back too!

  • AnilMaskey on August 10, 2009, 11:11 GMT

    It's not that Australia were extraordinarily brilliant, England were over confident, devoid of their star players and they misread the pitch and underestimated their opponents. For them, this is an overwhelming loss but they are not as woeful as people are saying. They lost this match during the 1st hours of their batting and bowling. Rather than Australian bowling, most of the England batsmen got themselves out. They played too many shots trying to dictate terms when conditions and bowling cried for cautionary approach in the first hour and bowled too short when common sense called for fuller length. Australia and Ricky Ponting can afford to be bullish in their press statements after this win. People like Sclyd Berry, who called for Ramprakash to be drafted in, just supply the ammunition to the opposition press about how situation has become desperate for England. But if Australia are really as resolute and as good as they are being made out to be in the wake of their crushing win at

  • SehwagShow on August 10, 2009, 11:08 GMT

    @Bearded_Lefty you say making stupid changes is not the answer, but then you say "swap Bell for Bopara and Flintoff for Harmison"...Bell and Bopara were already in the side! so you only suggesting to replace Harmison with Flintoff or do you want them to play with 10 men? .....Ramprakash is averaging 100 and would play at his home ground, they would be stupid not to pick him...he can't do much worse

  • 7477 on August 10, 2009, 11:01 GMT

    no point in talking about Trescothick & Ramprakash as their Test careers are OVER. why cannot England call in one of the 02 men who are in great form this year namely Trott & Carberry to replace Bopara who has fallen to Shane Warne's comments without ever facing a legal delivery from the maestro. as far as the bowling is concerned i believe Sidebottom should have played here although he still stand a good chance of making it in the final test. my prediction 2-1 for Aussies & the Ashes URN.

  • GoPoms on August 10, 2009, 10:59 GMT

    What about Mike Gatting? No Warne and he's looking as fit as ever.

  • roblewiscrosby on August 10, 2009, 10:53 GMT

    Ramprakash, Trescothick and Pietersen should play at the oval. Even on crutches KP would be the best batsman in England. Tresco at 3 would be ideal against the new ball or hammering a tiring bowling attack. Ramprakash's past failures were earlier in his career before his move to Surrey, now he's playing with more freedom and expression, definitely worth a recall. It's a case of nothing to lose, the current middle order are simply not good enough to win the oval test. When Stuart Broad is your top wicket taker and top batsman in a game something has gone SERIOUSLY wrong. Selection should be simple the best players in the best form

  • Simon74 on August 10, 2009, 9:58 GMT

    I think the one or two changes are probably justified - I'd say it will do more to lift team morale if they address the obvious problems rather than leave it as is. If you're an England player how confident are you going to be when the first wicket goes down and Bopara strolls to the crease? He's had an awful series, and he's getting worse - time to rest him, and put Key in. I'm not a massive Key fan - I don't think he's the answer long term, but he's tough, and he'll be solid, which is golden compared to what we've got at the moment. Obviously we'll need Flintoff back, and I'd play Sidebottom if Anderson can't clear up his injury niggle. But I think they have a decent chance at The Oval.

  • WilliamFranklin on August 10, 2009, 9:30 GMT

    To be fair Bell has had many chances and we needed him to stand up and be counted in the last match. He didn't. For him it's unfortunate that Johnson's form picked up just as he came back into the side. However Partyman is over the top, he's had very good innings in test matches. 199 against SA is not mediocracy. As for what he talks, you surely want players to show self belief? I don't see the problem in him saying "my record against Australia is not good enough, I believe I can improve it". Just be nice if he could do that.

    It's a tough call for the selectors. My feeling is they won't make too many changes, except perhaps moving/dropping Bopara. Personally I'd stick Ramps at 3 for this match. People talk about putting Key at 3 but compare their respective records in the CC for the past 4 seasons; people may not rate the championship but the outstanding batsman shine brighter for it. Plus the Oval is his home ground.

  • Bearded_Lefty on August 10, 2009, 8:50 GMT

    Not more of this rubbish please! The last thing we need to is bring in the likes of Ramprakash, who makes BELL look like BRADMAN. Just compare their records. Not playing does not a great batsman make. Makes lots of stupid changes is not the answer. In th short term, swap Bell for Bopara and Flintoff for Harmison. Long term: drop Bell and Harmison. Keeping the same team will do us better than bringing together 11 strangers.

    For full rant see: http://beardedsocialist.blogspot.com/2009/08/england-team-selection-for-5th-test.html

  • AJ_Tiger86 on August 10, 2009, 8:34 GMT

    We don't need to overreact. Bring back Flintoff and slightly change the batting order: 1.Strauss 2.Cook 3.Bell 4.Collingwood 5.Bopara 6.Prior 7.Flintoff 8.Broad 9.Swann 10.Anderson 11.Onions This should be more than good enough to win the Ashes.

  • HOTCHA on August 10, 2009, 7:51 GMT

    England needs to make some serious changes in the team and ensure they have the best playing eleven, while accepting they might need two men to fill Flintoff's shoes. Stuart Broad demonstrated that he can come close, though. England should be looking to play 5 batsmen, 1 allrounder, 4 bowlers and a stumper. Straus and Cook pick themselves. Bopara and Bell must go. Robert Key and Mark Ramprakash are probably the best, to replace them. Collingwood is much too good a player to be tinkered with, and is a tidy bowler, besides being good in th field. Matt Prior is not the best keeper, but gets in because of his batting. Stuart Broad is best at 7, leaving the last 4 places for 2 pacemen and 2 spinners. The Oval wic has history for aiding spinners, and England would be wise to go in with both Swann and Panesar. Panesar should talk to Bishen Singh Bedi for a few tips, and to see where he has going wrong. Onions and Anderson have performed admirably. Sidebottom could be on standby, for injuries

  • swinger87 on August 10, 2009, 6:05 GMT

    I don't think wholesale changes should be made to the English team, barring this last test, the two teams have been quite equally matched.

    The worrying thing is obviously the middle order, Stuart Clark has Collingwood's number, Bopara isn't a tight-enough batsman to be a number 3, and Bell has had enough chances.

    Ideally you would only drop one of them, I'd drop Bell, play Bopara, bat him at 6, he'll come out against an older ball and a tiring attack (ideally) - I think he certainly has more chance of turning a game than Bell does.

    While I think the talk of bringing back Ramprakash is a bit ridiculous, he has a poor test record - but unlike very few, averaged his best against Australia. Without KP, they need a spark in the high middle order, why not give Ramprakash a go at 3? Couldn't be much worse than the current Bopara/Bell combination. Robert Key would be the logical choice though.

  • rohanbala on August 10, 2009, 5:54 GMT

    Marcus Trescothick should never be considered again for the reason that he quit playing for England (when he was most needed) for reasons known only to himself. As for Ramprakash, his test figures are below 30s which does not warrant him a recall, unless the selectors feel that he would fill the middle order considering his good first class record. The English selectors have sprung surprises in the past by recalling (Ted Dexter (1968) and Brian Close (1976) against Australia and West Indies respectively.

  • 68704 on August 10, 2009, 5:18 GMT

    Well Nick, I have to disagree with you. The results might have been there, but it is largely despite Bopara, Bell surely. Collingwood is still resting on the laurels of Cardiff. Of course the answer does not lie in the past like Trecothick and Ramprakash, both of whom were good at some point in time. Surely there must be some young cricketers. What is the point in playing or waiting on the fitness of players. I don"t see Australia playing Lee this season in the tests at least, so why is England constantly waiting for Freddie to be 50 per cent fit? True a half fit Freddie is better than a fully fit replacement . But England must do something for the future and maybe the Oval is as good a place to begin. Sridhar

  • Percy_Fender on August 10, 2009, 4:48 GMT

    I am simply shocked to see the responses of so many people to England's bad loss at Headingly. It is just that luck was just not on their side to do well in this match. There was this fire in the hotel on the morning of the match after which Strauss won the toss and opted to bat. They were blown away in conditions ideal for swing bowling. Thereafter everything went Australia's way excepting the mad partnership between Broad and Swann on the last day. To talk of Trescothic and Ramprakash is just ridiculous. For the Oval Test, they should bring in Trott and maybe Stephen Moore in place of Bopara and Bell.I believe Flintoff will be fit for this match as it will be his swansong. And a great one it will be for lore to be filled for a long time to come. Yes England will win the Oval Test and so the Ashes of 2009.

  • Farce-Follower on August 10, 2009, 3:22 GMT

    Ravi Bopara needs to focus on the IPL. His stint with the team there will produce better results. Even for KXP (his franchise in IPL), his value stems from his surname and parentage. This test will surely drive more away from Test cricket into IPL. Why such a hard slog when a few meaningless bat swishes earn you more.

  • fairdinkum on August 10, 2009, 3:18 GMT

    No matter what the selectors do, they will be criticised roundly. Leave the team intact and show faith in the players who, at times, have played well. Making wholesale changes has the effect of undermining team morale.

  • Abe4 on August 10, 2009, 1:08 GMT

    I think if England wanted to pick Trescothick,then Cook must down to no.3 but if pick Rampakesh,he will be no.3 although if they wanted to play.England must do something fast if they want to win this series.If not, England had to wait for another year to win in Australia.

  • Beaten_in_da_corridor on August 9, 2009, 22:55 GMT

    Langer's comments "liable to crumble when put under pressure" apply to Trescothick and Ramprakash both....their falling out of international Test cricket (in Tres case) and non-performance (Ramps) reflect those sentiments appropriately...

  • Partyman on August 9, 2009, 22:43 GMT

    Get rid of Bell for good!! Everytime I see him in an England shirt, it makes my blood boil. He is mediocracy personified and will never make the cut as an England player. What's more he talks non sense about how good he is - the problem is that he believes it himself. Some journalist wrote about his promising start of 53 in Edgbaston - complete non sense. He was probably out 3 time before scoring that 50. Calling him a Sherminator is an absolute disgrace, since Sherminator made out with Nadia in the end. I don't see Bell pulling a door handle let alone a boundary for England. Bopara is another clown - for all his brave talk, he continues the long English tradition of under achievement - Hick, Ramprakash, Shah, Bell, Bopara............ the list will go on. Don't ask me who are the replacements - long term / short term. That's the most alarming fact - there aren't any worthwhile ones around in the country. I can see the team going down to the lows of the 90s from here on.

  • adrian77 on August 9, 2009, 22:32 GMT

    Trescothik is an opener, and England's batting problems are not really with the openers. However I think Ramprakash would actually be a good choice. People forget that for all his test failures, he always stood up and played his best cricket against Australia. Another good batsman England should have considered far earlier in the series is Robert Key - fantastic technique and is another player who has stood up against Australia in his only series against them. I'm pretty sure Australia play Kent before the last test, so I will be very interested in how he goes against them. As for bowlers - is it too late to give Hoggard a recall?

  • NickHughes on August 9, 2009, 22:17 GMT

    Here we go again...English jitteryness when things have gone wrong. I rolled my eyeballs in some disbelief when I read about the possible recall of Trescothick and Ramprakash. "According to sources close to Trescothick, the chances of him coming out of retirement, even for a one-off valedictory performance, are next to nil". So why bother to mention it then? He's retired, he's adamant about that decision and if he's got a stress related illness then why launch him into the deciding match of an Ashes series against a full on sledging Australian outfit where he's expected to turn things around for the national side? And I can't believe people are still blinded by Ramprakash's county form: He's another player who can't cut it when the pressure's on or need I remind you about his mental blockage when he was stuck on 99 first class centuries. No point in going back to yesterday's men like those. Have we completely forgotten Robert Key?

  • akc5247 on August 9, 2009, 20:13 GMT

    Trescothick & Ramprakash should be called back.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • akc5247 on August 9, 2009, 20:13 GMT

    Trescothick & Ramprakash should be called back.

  • NickHughes on August 9, 2009, 22:17 GMT

    Here we go again...English jitteryness when things have gone wrong. I rolled my eyeballs in some disbelief when I read about the possible recall of Trescothick and Ramprakash. "According to sources close to Trescothick, the chances of him coming out of retirement, even for a one-off valedictory performance, are next to nil". So why bother to mention it then? He's retired, he's adamant about that decision and if he's got a stress related illness then why launch him into the deciding match of an Ashes series against a full on sledging Australian outfit where he's expected to turn things around for the national side? And I can't believe people are still blinded by Ramprakash's county form: He's another player who can't cut it when the pressure's on or need I remind you about his mental blockage when he was stuck on 99 first class centuries. No point in going back to yesterday's men like those. Have we completely forgotten Robert Key?

  • adrian77 on August 9, 2009, 22:32 GMT

    Trescothik is an opener, and England's batting problems are not really with the openers. However I think Ramprakash would actually be a good choice. People forget that for all his test failures, he always stood up and played his best cricket against Australia. Another good batsman England should have considered far earlier in the series is Robert Key - fantastic technique and is another player who has stood up against Australia in his only series against them. I'm pretty sure Australia play Kent before the last test, so I will be very interested in how he goes against them. As for bowlers - is it too late to give Hoggard a recall?

  • Partyman on August 9, 2009, 22:43 GMT

    Get rid of Bell for good!! Everytime I see him in an England shirt, it makes my blood boil. He is mediocracy personified and will never make the cut as an England player. What's more he talks non sense about how good he is - the problem is that he believes it himself. Some journalist wrote about his promising start of 53 in Edgbaston - complete non sense. He was probably out 3 time before scoring that 50. Calling him a Sherminator is an absolute disgrace, since Sherminator made out with Nadia in the end. I don't see Bell pulling a door handle let alone a boundary for England. Bopara is another clown - for all his brave talk, he continues the long English tradition of under achievement - Hick, Ramprakash, Shah, Bell, Bopara............ the list will go on. Don't ask me who are the replacements - long term / short term. That's the most alarming fact - there aren't any worthwhile ones around in the country. I can see the team going down to the lows of the 90s from here on.

  • Beaten_in_da_corridor on August 9, 2009, 22:55 GMT

    Langer's comments "liable to crumble when put under pressure" apply to Trescothick and Ramprakash both....their falling out of international Test cricket (in Tres case) and non-performance (Ramps) reflect those sentiments appropriately...

  • Abe4 on August 10, 2009, 1:08 GMT

    I think if England wanted to pick Trescothick,then Cook must down to no.3 but if pick Rampakesh,he will be no.3 although if they wanted to play.England must do something fast if they want to win this series.If not, England had to wait for another year to win in Australia.

  • fairdinkum on August 10, 2009, 3:18 GMT

    No matter what the selectors do, they will be criticised roundly. Leave the team intact and show faith in the players who, at times, have played well. Making wholesale changes has the effect of undermining team morale.

  • Farce-Follower on August 10, 2009, 3:22 GMT

    Ravi Bopara needs to focus on the IPL. His stint with the team there will produce better results. Even for KXP (his franchise in IPL), his value stems from his surname and parentage. This test will surely drive more away from Test cricket into IPL. Why such a hard slog when a few meaningless bat swishes earn you more.

  • Percy_Fender on August 10, 2009, 4:48 GMT

    I am simply shocked to see the responses of so many people to England's bad loss at Headingly. It is just that luck was just not on their side to do well in this match. There was this fire in the hotel on the morning of the match after which Strauss won the toss and opted to bat. They were blown away in conditions ideal for swing bowling. Thereafter everything went Australia's way excepting the mad partnership between Broad and Swann on the last day. To talk of Trescothic and Ramprakash is just ridiculous. For the Oval Test, they should bring in Trott and maybe Stephen Moore in place of Bopara and Bell.I believe Flintoff will be fit for this match as it will be his swansong. And a great one it will be for lore to be filled for a long time to come. Yes England will win the Oval Test and so the Ashes of 2009.

  • 68704 on August 10, 2009, 5:18 GMT

    Well Nick, I have to disagree with you. The results might have been there, but it is largely despite Bopara, Bell surely. Collingwood is still resting on the laurels of Cardiff. Of course the answer does not lie in the past like Trecothick and Ramprakash, both of whom were good at some point in time. Surely there must be some young cricketers. What is the point in playing or waiting on the fitness of players. I don"t see Australia playing Lee this season in the tests at least, so why is England constantly waiting for Freddie to be 50 per cent fit? True a half fit Freddie is better than a fully fit replacement . But England must do something for the future and maybe the Oval is as good a place to begin. Sridhar