England attack 'quietly nice' - Vaughan
Plenty of the pre-Test series hype has focused on South Africa's potent pace attack led by Dale Steyn, but Michael Vaughan doesn't feel England's lack of pace makes them any less threatening. Vaughan, England's captain, has put faith in the trio of Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson and Stuart Broad even as he shored up the possibility of his Ashes 2005 pace quartet bowling as a unit again.
"We don't have bowling of 90-95 mph," Vaughan said ahead of Thursday's first Test at Lord's. "But it's not always about that. We have an attack that relies more on the control side. It has not got the pace it used to have but I think they've got a decent amount of skill.
"Jimmy Anderson showed against New Zealand at Trent Bridge that if the ball is swinging he has a hell of an amount of skill. Stuart Broad is developing into a fine cricketer - he's inexperienced but he bowls beyond his years - and Ryan Sidebottom has probably been the find of the last year in Test match cricket.
"You add to that Monty Panesar, who can get five- and six-wicket hauls, and the attack looks quietly nice."
England's last series against South Africa, a 2-1 away win in 2004-05, featured the same attack that would bowl them to a historic Ashes victory the following summer. However, none of Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Simon Jones or Andrew Flintoff are in the squad for Lord's.
Of the four, Flintoff is the closest to selection for the second Test at Headingley which starts on July 18. A serious knee injury has seen Jones, currently with Worcestershire, spend the last three years on the sidelines but he moved a step closer to a Test return when named in England's provisional Champions Trophy squad.
"I have not seen Simon bowl in a match. I have just seen his figures and when a guy is getting five-fors pretty consistently, and getting them quickly - he's getting them in seven and eight-over bursts - that is exciting," Vaughan said. "As captain you want someone who can change the course of a game in a few overs.
"If he performs like he did in the 2005 Ashes then we've got something special there and it's absolutely fantastic that both he and Harmison are knocking on the door again."
Harmison continues to be overlooked by England's selectors after a poor showing in New Zealand earlier this year, but Vaughan noticed a spark during a Championship match-up last week. "Having just played against Harmy, he has definitely got his pace back. He bowled a 12-over spell, which suggested he wanted to get me out, and he did," he said. "The most important thing is he looked as if he was enjoying his cricket, which was a really positive sign.
"I know he doesn't want to play solely for Durham for the rest of his career, he wants to get back into the England team, and someone with that amount of ability and 90-miles-an-hour gas is going to be knocking on the door consistently."
"And we know what Matthew Hoggard offers. Who would have said a year ago we would be even talking about the Ashes '05 unit potentially bowling together again? It certainly could happen but we ought to talk about the guys in the team at the moment who do a good job."
Vaughan was confident of captaining at Lord's, having taken an Ostinol injection for his troublesome right knee last Wednesday.