England v Australia, 5th Test, The Oval August 11, 2009

Miller rules out Trescothick call


England's national selector, Geoff Miller, has ruled out the possibility of a shock comeback for Marcus Trescothick, but has admitted that Mark Ramprakash is being seriously considered in a one-off capacity for the crucial fifth Test at The Oval, as England attempt to bounce back from their Headingley humiliation, and reclaim the Ashes for only the second time in 20 years.

Speaking to Cricinfo's Switch Hit podcast, Miller said that the squad selection, which will be announced at 9.30 on Sunday morning, would have to strike a balance between the long-term requirement to build the tight and cohesive unit essential for future England success, and the short-term desire to win the world's most prestigious Test series. And that means that Ramprakash, who turns 40 next month but has averaged 100 in each of his last three seasons for Surrey, cannot be discounted.

"Mark has not stated he's not available for international cricket, so we will discuss that," Miller told Cricinfo. "It's not just my decision, it's a team decision, and we'll sit down as a unit. We have a consistency and continuity angle as far as selection policy is concerned and we try to stick to that as much as possible. But we do want to win this series, which is a matter of winning this game in a one-match situation, so it's a very difficult equation as [is the case with] all selection policies."

At the same time, Miller defended the players he selected for the fateful fourth Test at Headingley, and reiterated that there would not be a kneejerk reaction ahead of the Oval showdown, regardless of how much speculation is going on in the media.

"I don't think anyone has ever said being a selector is an easy job, and one bad performance like that spotlights it," said Miller. "A selector is there to be shot at - if we do well the players have done well, if we do badly it's the selectors' fault - and that goes with the territory. We fully understand that, but the job now is to rectify the performance and win at The Oval, and that's what our minds are on.

"What's happened is that the press have jumped on one mediocre performance - which it was, and there's no getting away from that, it was very much an under-performance, and that has got to be rectified - but it's not as though we are three or four-nil down, it's 1-1. If we win this Test match we regain the Ashes, and that's what we intend to do.

"We as an England team tend to do well with our backs to the wall so we are hoping we can bounce back mentally and technically, and I'm sure the players can, because they are international quality players."

In particular Miller defended his No. 3 batsman, Ravi Bopara, who entered the series on the back of three consecutive hundreds against West Indies but who has since managed 105 runs at 15 in four Tests. At Headingley he looked like a man in need of a break from the front line as part of a middle order that contributed 16 runs for six dismissals, but Miller disagreed.

"Not necessarily," he said. "It's an option, certainly, and we'll strongly look at it, but you don't become a bad player overnight, just because you're in a bad trot. It also depends what you are like mentally as well as technically. We'll look at it in discussion with the captain and coach, see what he's like in the changing room, and if it's necessary we'll go down that line.

"But we don't just make changes for the sake of making changes," he said. "Our meetings are not two-minute affairs, never have been, never will be. We'll look at every aspect of each game separately, and hopefully make the right decisions because this Test decides the series."

Those decisions will also include the role that Andrew Flintoff may or may not make in what will be his final Test before retirement. On Monday a leading specialist, Andy Williams, concluded that the swelling in his right knee had reduced significantly, but though he welcomed the news, Miller said that Flintoff would ultimately be judged by how he performed in the nets, just as he was prior to his omission at Headingley.

"It looks very favourable at the moment, but we'll wait and see what's happened in a couple of days," he said. "If it looks as though he can be selected in the squad then we will probably do that because the England side with Freddie playing in it at his best is a quality side, but we'll have to monitor it day by day and see how he performs in the nets, because he's got to do the workload required by the captain to justify his selection."

However, barring a dramatic volte face from the West Country, one player who will not enter into the selectors' discussions, is Trescothick, who this week confirmed to a local newspaper he did not intend to come out of his international retirement, despite being the leading run-scorer in first-class cricket this summer. With a hint of regret, Miller said he would not attempt to change the player's mind.

"Marcus has many times said he's retired from international cricket, and until I hear contrary to that, he will not be a part of the selection process. He knows where he is, he's really comfortable and playing really, really well, but he's retired from Test cricket so he's not a part of our thoughts at this moment in time."

Click here to listen to the full interview with Geoff Miller

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ram on August 15, 2009, 14:28 GMT

    I agree with HostileJ... The team should not be changed due to one massive failure... But English fans must be aware that Australia's weakness is their Bowling lineup balanced well with an average English Batting line up..:(

    For that matter the last world class English line had Gower, Gatting... and co... From there on it was splatter of world class batsmen.. one here... one there... Thorp, Vaughan., Kevin....

    This Ashes series is only about who handles pressure better..Quality wise the teams are far below 2005. England's Key for the final test is their openers... If they click... they have a chance..

  • Michael on August 14, 2009, 14:17 GMT

    After 117* and 5 wickets (playing for Yorkiestan) surely Adiil Rashid is a 'shoe-in' for the Oval, assuming Enland go for a second spinner.

  • Richard on August 13, 2009, 21:35 GMT

    As an Englishman desperate to see The Ashes returned to England I am fully aware of the sole objective of the final test at The Oval: England MUST win, no other result will do. Let's focus on that for a moment, shall we? So, how to go about it; we know that it's a hard, bouncy track, traditionally good for batting on. Lets examine the source of nearly all the chatter of the last week i.e. The middle order 3-4-5. Consider this question: hands up those who would expect Bopara, Bell and Collingwood to score 100 between them in both innings combined. Those that have their hands up, tell us how much of your own money you would wager on such an event!! There you have it. How about a batting line up that reads 1. Strauss 2. Cook 3. Trescothick 4. Key 5. Ramprakash 6. Flintoff 7. Prior 8. Broad 9. Swann 10. Anderson 11. Onions? Even allowing for a failure or two, such a batting lineup would post enough runs to make it necessary for Australia to bat twice.

    Now its up to the bowlers!

  • Nick on August 13, 2009, 15:15 GMT

    It's nothing to do with Ramprakash's age...he just doesn't have the bottle for test cricket. Let's not be blinded by that 100 average over 3 seasons: There is a gulf between his domestic and international records and no amount of eulogising by the Cricinfo staff plus his fan club has addressed that issue. I would back that Key is a hungrier and more confident batsman than Ramprakash and therefore should be given the nod.

  • Derek on August 13, 2009, 14:11 GMT

    Dedicated by R Ponting to the England Oval XI. A real Sideshow.


  • Wayne on August 13, 2009, 13:46 GMT

    I find the current English "Selectorial S.N.A.F.U" rather interesting indeed. There must have been a very valid reason why the most prolific of English batsmen for the past 3 years has not been selected to the Test team. And at 40 (39.99) years, Ramprakash is no more, or less, equipped for the job than he was 3 years ago. This selection predicament has unwittingly landed in the laps of Miller and company. A predicament because he now has to come up with an on-field combination to satisfy public opinion that England had a real chance of regaining the Ashes; and an opinion, I might add, mainly fashioned on performance against an all at sea WI team under adverse conditions. Surprisingly, he now finds himself nigh on Winter with little stores for the season. Ramp's selection will have significantly little effect on the final outcome of the Ashes, now that the water has finally found its level. England has already done better than expected, and should concentrate on the team of the future

  • Thomas on August 13, 2009, 8:33 GMT

    Why does Ramps only get picked as a one off? So what is he is nearly 40, if he still wants to play for England and is considered good enough why should he not be selected beyond the Oval. If Bell and Bopara are not considered good enough or right for this moment, then surely bringing back Ramps is not the solution unless they give him 12 -18 months in the test side, with maybe the opportunity to give some correction to his figures against the lesser attacks which exist around the world now. After all, he looks far fitter than Shah, Key and several other contenders for middle order batting places??

  • Jackie on August 13, 2009, 7:54 GMT

    A match this big,needs an unchanged team...I think there is a few things Eng has to take into consideration:1) Bopara is definitely part of Englands long term plan.So whilst I think they should change something I think it would be stupid to drop him completely.The guy is utter class and will no doubt become a massive runmaker.2)Mark Ramp should be looking at the bigger picture - yes,to get a one-off call up would be great, but what if he fails?Something like that could break a player for ever.considering the importance of this match,the risk is simply too great.3)Trescothic should not even be an option.I mean who retires at the age of 32 and that (in my view) because of selection issues.I'd say bat Bell at 3,Colly at 4, Flintoff/Trott 5,Bopara 6,Prior 7,Broad 8 and Swann 9. It would be stupid to change the team now.Eng have matched Aus well in this series,even with Bopara not performing.backing him for another test will be massive for the guy's career..let alone his confidence.Go Eng!!

  • Robert on August 13, 2009, 2:58 GMT

    Take a punt and play Ramps. No other candidate measures up. But the selectors would have to tell him it's a one-off i.e. "you're not playing for a place on the Winter tour... just go out and bat and enjoy it."

  • Rakshit on August 13, 2009, 1:44 GMT

    I was just wondering Why Miller or Strauss not promoting Collingwood for No 3 Position. I think he is the best fit for that.

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