July 30, 2008

The case of the empty cupboard

England are gravely short of depth, and the debate over qualification criteria is making the issue more vexed
27


England will look to Vaughan to lead a fightback and re-establish his authority with an innings of substance © Getty Images
 

I shall be at Horsham this week whilst England will hope to be starting the process of defeating South Africa, who are missing Dale Steyn but assisted instead by an eager Andre Nel. The superior team won at Headingley but it will be a surprise if Michael Vaughan does not take his opportunity to lead a personal and team fightback that would set up a potentially thrilling decider at The Oval.

Those of us keeping an eye on things from a distance can reflect in relative peace on weightier events elsewhere. Two things in particular need careful monitoring. The first of them, the latest twists in the high-octane drama of Twenty20 politics - the Champions this and the Champions that, or Giles this and Lalit that - may be left to others for the moment. From the English perspective, however, this is a crucial time both for an international squad swimming with wealth and for the dwindling pool of England-qualified journeymen labouring to join them from county cricket.

The controversial selection of Darren Pattinson at Leeds, and England's thorough trouncing, brought the relationship between the two groups into question once more. It needs to be reiterated that England lost not because Ryan Sidebottom was unfit, nor because the inclusion of both Pattinson and Andrew Flintoff inevitably altered the chemistry of the team. They lost primarily because they batted without the necessary discipline in the first innings.

Vaughan is good at deceiving himself about his personal ability to attract unplayable balls and he, especially, following three rather isolated hundreds in 30 innings since his post-Ashes return last year, needs a major innings this weekend to re-establish his authority. He has done it before, notably at Old Trafford in 2005 and at Headingley in 2007.

For any team, success in cricket requires a subtle alloy of several ingredients, of which good leadership is one. The others include talented batsmen, bowlers, fielders and wicketkeepers, naturally. Less obvious essentials are luck, total commitment to the team above the individual, hard work and practice, concentration on the needs of the moment, and focus on team success rather than the individual rewards that success will bring.

Remembering all this may yet bring England back into the current tough Test series with South Africa and on towards a winning series in India in the winter, surely the next essential step towards revenge for their utter humiliation at the hands of what, admittedly, was a genuinely great Australia side in 2006-07. But two uncomfortable truths were fully exposed at Headingley: one, the failure of application in the batting, the other a matter of selection policy that reflected weakness in the governance of the English game.

On the field England are gravely short of depth when it comes to two of the essential playing departments. There is a dearth both of top-class batsmen and of spinners, so that a consistently inconsistent top six lacks sufficient challenge from beneath; and there is no serious left-arm spin bowling alternative to Monty Panesar. Graeme Swann or James Tredwell would presumably be next in line if Panesar were to injure himself on the eve of a Test match, but neither is likely to be a match-winner except on a genuine spinner's pitch. Adil Rashid has struggled, generally speaking, this season, and the only young offspinner of special talent is Ollie Rayner, whose chance has come at last because of Saqlain Mushtaq's return to Surrey and Mushtaq Ahmed's knee injuries.

Rayner, six-foot-five, and a useful batsman too, will be a key figure, no doubt, in Sussex's match against Somerset at Horsham but his recent success, like Pattinson's selection, has reopened the debate about qualification rules. Reasonable defence of a national sport's interests should have allowed the ECB to impose restraints on the number of overseas-bred players in cricket that would have stood the test of European law. Now that the Cotonou Agreement has been interpreted by the EU, under French presidency, as applying to the trade of goods and services rather than labour, it remains to be seen with what resolve the board will force the hand of counties to stop the inflow of cricketers from overseas. At the moment they are getting wholly different signals from their leaders because of the obsession with Twenty20.

 
 
Two uncomfortable truths were fully exposed at Headingley: one, the failure of application in the batting, the other a matter of selection policy that reflected weakness in the governance of the English game
 

It was inevitable that the abundance of overseas-bred players in county cricket would lead sooner or later to a controversial selection. Arguments about who should be eligible for which country are never simple, especially in the cosmopolitan country that Britain has become. If the Nawab of Pataudi, Ranjitsinhji, WL Murdoch (Australia's first great batsman, for heaven's sake!), Tony Greig, Graeme Hick and Kevin Pietersen have all played for England after learning their cricket elsewhere, the Grimsby-born son of British parents had every right to play at Headingley.

Pattinson's selection was nonetheless bizarre, based as it was on the evidence of six first-class games in England and bowling success gained mainly on a ground where a total of 280 has been passed only twice all season. Of his 29 wickets for Notts before his promotion, the bulk - 17 at 12 runs each - had come at Trent Bridge. He surely had to be more exceptional than he is to justify an instant promotion ahead of Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Simon Jones, and the regular bridesmaid, Chris Tremlett. If they wanted a Headingley "type" it should have been Alan Richardson, an equally obscure cricketer to most but always a reliable bowler when he is fit.

At least Geoff Miller had a long list of possible fast bowlers. The batting cupboard is barer, but if the top six should fail again at Edgbaston, Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara, the always underrated David Sales, the South Africa-bred Jonathan Trott, and the Kent openers, Robert Key and Joe Denly, probably head the queue in view of Michael Carberry's disappointing season.

As usual in the crowded home season, the public will be spoilt for choice this week. If the weather is as it has recently been, one can predict with confidence that Horsham's beautiful ground in West Sussex, celebrating the 100th anniversary of County Championship cricket on the site, will be as full to its capacity as Edgbaston will be, and as the Rose Bowl was for Middlesex's Twenty20 triumph last Sunday.

Christopher Martin-Jenkins has been a leading cricket broadcaster, journalist and author for almost four decades, during which time he has served as a cricket correspondent for the BBC, the Daily Telegraph and the Times

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ordo on August 1, 2008, 20:27 GMT

    Ollie Rayner a special talent dream on, his chances of first team cricket will be gone when Mushtaq returns from injury.

  • SummerofGeorge on August 1, 2008, 19:01 GMT

    And this is why you don't just like cricket, but become obsessed. The game can make a fool out of you in an afternoon and god bless it for that. The ebb and flow of heroism, faliure and redemption is what keeps us coming back. Gutsy pugnacious brilliance from Mr Collingwood. Couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke.

  • lazo on August 1, 2008, 18:30 GMT

    As per my earlier comments the batting, we can now see after the 3rd days play in the SA Test match is the strength of the England team. Collingwood has come good because he is a class player. As is Vaughan, who will also come good. It pays to remember that class is permanent, form is temporary.Now it is up to the bowlers to win the Test match and therein lies the problem.Flintoff will do his bit and lets hope the wicket turns for Monty. The others are not up to scratch.

    Also the English cricket journalists need to get out of the bar and start working for their keep by properly analysing the game and being positive about England's play rather than be lazy and look for the easy story. It would also be a good idea if all the selectors turned up each days play.

  • lazo on August 1, 2008, 14:14 GMT

    Another one for the friendless English batsmen. Not one of SA batsmen averages above 40 in Test v Aust who are the benchmark. For England there are Pieterson +50,Vaughan +40 and guess who? Collinwood +40. The Aussies stick with theirs when they are experiencing a lean trot. England discard theirs but hang onto bowlers who are continuously getting hammered and only perform agains NZ or a weak WI team. Not sure what game the selectors are watching. They must get their info from the morning papers over a cup of tea with comments like "Jimmy picked a few wickets again" with out looking deeper into the stats to discover they are mostly tail enders. Even his county record does not stack up. Check out his strike rate!

  • lazo on July 31, 2008, 17:35 GMT

    The English selectors,coach and commentators seem to be on the wrong track about England's problems. It's the bowlers who are the problem.Think about it. Not one of them averages less than 30 per wicket. The batsmen can refer to their 40plus averages.

    This test series is a real test not like NZ where all were fooled by the bowlers performance against an ordinary batting line up. Here they face a real test and what have they achieved. In the First Test after the batsmen set the game up the bowlers struggled. Same in the 2nd Test and again here. Apart from Flintoff the others should be retired. Bring back Harmison,Jones and Kabir Ali into the 12. Get rid of the keeper who has not measured up to this stiffer test,

    England need to make changes, the right ones and fast if they want to have a chance in the Ashes. It's the bowlers stupid!

  • hw007 on July 31, 2008, 17:25 GMT

    A good article but a point worth raising in the context of overseas players is the number of them. Many county sides now have 5, 6 or even more playing regularly. An argument is that it maintains or raises the quality of the games and young english players benefit from exposure to this level (However, only a handful of places are now available to the locals and the brought in players do all the work. Well you have to get your money's worth!). Unfortunately the number of places available to native players is now so small that we are in danger of not having a critical mass necessary to maintain a pool of quality players. Thus more overseas talent will be sucked in. There still is money available in the game but less and less will go to nuture local talent as the counties will seek the profits that go with winning competitions and the external stars will milk the wealth. The Pattinson saga is in danger of being repeated but next time with players lifted from county second teams.

  • vswami on July 31, 2008, 4:14 GMT

    Orthodox spinners dont have much of a future. Even Vettori's stats are hardly impressive and made of match winning stuff. They can at best do a holding role and batsmen around the world have generally mastered them. Monty falls into this category. To me it seems like the English coaching system does not tolerate unorthodox techniques, and selectors more intent on covering their backsides, dont have the guts to encourage such players. At international level, you need to surprise opposition with more than just textbook stuff.

  • apache31 on July 31, 2008, 3:36 GMT

    Michael Vaughn we loved your captaincy in the ashes when England defeated Australia which is the glory of your career.Now do the honourable thing and step down.There is no shortage of commentary spots for retired test captains.You will enjoy the comapany of Hussein and Atherton or even Boycott.

  • Mooses on July 31, 2008, 0:08 GMT

    Panesar seems to be struggling, but haw much is due to having such small totals to defend. When the batsmen can just settle in with plenty of time and no pressure on to play shots and accelerate the run rate, spinners will find the going tougher. Anyway, the faster bowlers aren't having much more success in removing SA batsmen. The lack of application and staying power in the batting is of far more concern.

  • Nutcutlet on July 30, 2008, 20:48 GMT

    A few points for consideration. Play the best wicketkeeper: that's Foster. Play Flintoff and Broad. Drop Collingwood (Broad gets his all-rounder's spot) for the rest of the season. Drop Vaughan (no runs and becoming defensive as a captain - defensive of his mates, I mean... Dressing room camaraderie means buggerall unless there's performance in the middle to back it up). Key gets his place. New Captain then... Strauss. Sorted!

    Cook, Strauss, Key, KP, Bell, Flintoff, Broad, Foster, Sidebottom, Anderson, Panesaar. (This actually looks like a team that will compete!)

    PS: Harmison is not worth considering; He won't tour, so what's the point of choosing someone whose commitment is questionable?

  • ordo on August 1, 2008, 20:27 GMT

    Ollie Rayner a special talent dream on, his chances of first team cricket will be gone when Mushtaq returns from injury.

  • SummerofGeorge on August 1, 2008, 19:01 GMT

    And this is why you don't just like cricket, but become obsessed. The game can make a fool out of you in an afternoon and god bless it for that. The ebb and flow of heroism, faliure and redemption is what keeps us coming back. Gutsy pugnacious brilliance from Mr Collingwood. Couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke.

  • lazo on August 1, 2008, 18:30 GMT

    As per my earlier comments the batting, we can now see after the 3rd days play in the SA Test match is the strength of the England team. Collingwood has come good because he is a class player. As is Vaughan, who will also come good. It pays to remember that class is permanent, form is temporary.Now it is up to the bowlers to win the Test match and therein lies the problem.Flintoff will do his bit and lets hope the wicket turns for Monty. The others are not up to scratch.

    Also the English cricket journalists need to get out of the bar and start working for their keep by properly analysing the game and being positive about England's play rather than be lazy and look for the easy story. It would also be a good idea if all the selectors turned up each days play.

  • lazo on August 1, 2008, 14:14 GMT

    Another one for the friendless English batsmen. Not one of SA batsmen averages above 40 in Test v Aust who are the benchmark. For England there are Pieterson +50,Vaughan +40 and guess who? Collinwood +40. The Aussies stick with theirs when they are experiencing a lean trot. England discard theirs but hang onto bowlers who are continuously getting hammered and only perform agains NZ or a weak WI team. Not sure what game the selectors are watching. They must get their info from the morning papers over a cup of tea with comments like "Jimmy picked a few wickets again" with out looking deeper into the stats to discover they are mostly tail enders. Even his county record does not stack up. Check out his strike rate!

  • lazo on July 31, 2008, 17:35 GMT

    The English selectors,coach and commentators seem to be on the wrong track about England's problems. It's the bowlers who are the problem.Think about it. Not one of them averages less than 30 per wicket. The batsmen can refer to their 40plus averages.

    This test series is a real test not like NZ where all were fooled by the bowlers performance against an ordinary batting line up. Here they face a real test and what have they achieved. In the First Test after the batsmen set the game up the bowlers struggled. Same in the 2nd Test and again here. Apart from Flintoff the others should be retired. Bring back Harmison,Jones and Kabir Ali into the 12. Get rid of the keeper who has not measured up to this stiffer test,

    England need to make changes, the right ones and fast if they want to have a chance in the Ashes. It's the bowlers stupid!

  • hw007 on July 31, 2008, 17:25 GMT

    A good article but a point worth raising in the context of overseas players is the number of them. Many county sides now have 5, 6 or even more playing regularly. An argument is that it maintains or raises the quality of the games and young english players benefit from exposure to this level (However, only a handful of places are now available to the locals and the brought in players do all the work. Well you have to get your money's worth!). Unfortunately the number of places available to native players is now so small that we are in danger of not having a critical mass necessary to maintain a pool of quality players. Thus more overseas talent will be sucked in. There still is money available in the game but less and less will go to nuture local talent as the counties will seek the profits that go with winning competitions and the external stars will milk the wealth. The Pattinson saga is in danger of being repeated but next time with players lifted from county second teams.

  • vswami on July 31, 2008, 4:14 GMT

    Orthodox spinners dont have much of a future. Even Vettori's stats are hardly impressive and made of match winning stuff. They can at best do a holding role and batsmen around the world have generally mastered them. Monty falls into this category. To me it seems like the English coaching system does not tolerate unorthodox techniques, and selectors more intent on covering their backsides, dont have the guts to encourage such players. At international level, you need to surprise opposition with more than just textbook stuff.

  • apache31 on July 31, 2008, 3:36 GMT

    Michael Vaughn we loved your captaincy in the ashes when England defeated Australia which is the glory of your career.Now do the honourable thing and step down.There is no shortage of commentary spots for retired test captains.You will enjoy the comapany of Hussein and Atherton or even Boycott.

  • Mooses on July 31, 2008, 0:08 GMT

    Panesar seems to be struggling, but haw much is due to having such small totals to defend. When the batsmen can just settle in with plenty of time and no pressure on to play shots and accelerate the run rate, spinners will find the going tougher. Anyway, the faster bowlers aren't having much more success in removing SA batsmen. The lack of application and staying power in the batting is of far more concern.

  • Nutcutlet on July 30, 2008, 20:48 GMT

    A few points for consideration. Play the best wicketkeeper: that's Foster. Play Flintoff and Broad. Drop Collingwood (Broad gets his all-rounder's spot) for the rest of the season. Drop Vaughan (no runs and becoming defensive as a captain - defensive of his mates, I mean... Dressing room camaraderie means buggerall unless there's performance in the middle to back it up). Key gets his place. New Captain then... Strauss. Sorted!

    Cook, Strauss, Key, KP, Bell, Flintoff, Broad, Foster, Sidebottom, Anderson, Panesaar. (This actually looks like a team that will compete!)

    PS: Harmison is not worth considering; He won't tour, so what's the point of choosing someone whose commitment is questionable?

  • Serenity on July 30, 2008, 18:24 GMT

    England felt it necessary to rest Broad because he was tired, despite good performances, especially with the bat. Isn't then about time that Vaughan, Collingwood (who should not have been recalled) and Ambrose were also rested for being out of form? Vaughan's batting average in tests this year is 24.7 (18.4 if you exclude his century), while Collingwood's is a fraction over 26... These are not acceptable figures for batsmen in the top six. Ambrose's average is also a fraction over 26 (Prior was dropped with an average of 40...) Might I suggest that Key, Bopara and Prior are recalled for The Oval?

  • r1m2 on July 30, 2008, 18:00 GMT

    I think the recalling of Collingwood so soon was a bit funny. He gave no reason why he should be recalled, granted he did not get a chance to bat in a county first class match in between. But that does not mean he's suddenly found form, by resting for one test. It seems English selectors are really horrible decision makers and they were doing fine as long as the squad remained consistent. Once they had to make changes, they started acting like a clueless bunch. In my opinion, Vaughan should be on the chopping block, but I suppose dropping Colly was a way to distract the fans away from the Vaughan issue. I wonder if ECB is ready to make the tough decision if England loses this series to South Africa.

    To solangaarachchi: England did not produce Pietersen, if anyone did the full credit must go to South Africa, for giving England the greatest cricketing gift ever.

  • SummerofGeorge on July 30, 2008, 17:41 GMT

    The obsession with swing is now ridiculous, if it doesn't swing there is no plan B. We all know 20 wickets win test matches and that needs a five man attack. Padding the line up with out of form Batsmen smacks of defeatism and playing for a draw. Constantly failing to get a total then asking four bowlers and some bits and pieces medium pace to get you out of the mire will always come up short against decent sides. Then Monty is forced to bowl 60 overs an innings and get needlessly criticised for "lacking venom" or "losing his magic". After that many overs the batsmen know him better than their own wives so it's little suprise. Utter shambles once more.

  • Caveman. on July 30, 2008, 16:34 GMT

    Well, considering England's slightly brittle top 6, perhaps Mark Ramprakash - this older, matured version - would be worth a look.

  • MalStreat on July 30, 2008, 15:17 GMT

    Rob Key has to be the most unlucky English cricketer - he was dropped from the England team in favour of Ian Bell who made a big hundred against Bangladesh, & then flattered to deceive in the 2005 Ashes series. He was unfortunatly recovering from surgery when Alistair Cook got his call up as replacement opener in India. He has however proved his worth in taking up the captains role at Kent, & reproduced both his form in this role & his batting as captain of the England Lions. As Michael Vaughan & Andrew Strauss desperately cling onto their England places with poor batting performances & not very successful captaincy, England need to be bold before the next Ashes series, & name Rob Key as England captain & opener. Th Aussies have made it known they have respect for his batting, & also the fact the they cannot get under his skin !!

  • tcherian on July 30, 2008, 15:10 GMT

    I think England should drop vaughan...he is a dead weight with no contribution at all neither is he Mike bearley for crying out loud. As for captaincy it could be peitersen or colingwood or even strauss. It is time to say bye bye vaugh if things have to improve. Stop living in the only series victory and its glory....it is now wearing thin...ashes is gone back to the aussies so should Vaugh

  • castled on July 30, 2008, 14:40 GMT

    'The case of the empty cupboard' isn't a new phenomenon. There has been a dearth of talented English players ready to make the step up into the test match arena for a very long time. County cricket simply does not act as a sufficient grounding for the demands of international cricket. There needs to be a radical overhaul - fewer teams and matches and the acceptance that the interests of the national team are paramount.

    The current England setup should not be spared from criticism either. England achieved success under D.Fletcher because of his ability to spot talent in spite of the county system - the selections of Vaughan, Trescothick (averaging 30 in county cricket) and S Jones were inspired. Unfortunately, Peter Moores does not possess the same nous. In addition, the boys club mentality (which evolved under Fletcher) has flourished under the present regime meaning that the favourites are immune.

    Until these issues are resolved, the cupboard will remain bare.

  • Stellarossa on July 30, 2008, 14:36 GMT

    Forget Tresco, never going to happen. Collingwood should focus on ODIs. Give Shah an extended opportunity - how badly can he don compared to who is batting now?

    Vaughan needs to start scoring...double figures at least or else he is in danger of becoming a non-playing captain, this time not because of injury.

  • Sprewell on July 30, 2008, 14:18 GMT

    This 3rd test is englands best chance of saving this series. Pitch is expected to provide more for the swing bowler (england - sidebottom, anderson) then hit the pitch bowlers (sth africa - ntini, morkel, nel). Later in the match some spin is expected - Panesar (Harris doesnt count because he doesnt spin the ball). The only threatening Sth Africa swing bowler is injured (Steyn). So if the selectors can get their eleven right this match is where England might save the series.

    Bringing Collingwood back is a mistake, but it takes the attention away from Vaughan's poor form. Vaughan & Collingwood shouldnt be playing, Broad is not tired, he is just not a potent bowler, Simon Jones should be playing. I think England has depth, but not the selection strategy.

  • rich952 on July 30, 2008, 13:48 GMT

    After years of watching England's test cricket exploits I feel forced to write this - I cannot understand the persistance of playing Michael Vaughan, he has not made ANY runs in his last 11 tests, yet England's selector are a spineless bunch incapable of making executive decisions, Vaughan currently serve no purpose for the team. He can't bat at the moment, certainly doesn't bowl, and his captinancy skills are poor. Whilst 4 out of the 7 specialist batsmen are 'out of sorts'! I simply do not see the logic. To answer the question on why England are unable to produce world-class players - It is all about application, application, application, and I am afraid that the 'stars' that we have are too busy prancing around on pedalos and falling out of night clubs - I have given up watching Englands football team and have refused to watch them for 2 years, as the these sports events highlight our sportperson's mentality or lack of ambition and deication.

  • tongy on July 30, 2008, 11:47 GMT

    Two points to be made here:

    1.) Solangaarachchi: England didn't produce Kevin Pietersen, he moved over to England in his late teens / early twenties. As much as i admire / support Pietersen as a player, i don't think England can claim to have produced this mercurial talent.

    2.) JackKallis: Trescothick is indeed in good form but has made it very clear that he has retired from international cricket. As much as it is disappointing that he has taken this decision, England need to respect his wishes and not attempt to pressure him into returning. Tresco clearly called it a day for extraordinary reasons and it would be a retrograde step, both for England and for Tresco himself, to make a u-turn. England need to look forward. Maybe Joe Denly is a future opener.

    And Rob Key should definitely be included in the squad at least.

  • Jojy.John on July 30, 2008, 9:59 GMT

    I guess Panesar's place in the side maybe in jeaopardy and rightly so because he has lost his bite but like you pointed out idont see anybody else filling his gap. As far as this team is concerned I just feel theyll perform better knowing that their places in the side are at risk. Sidebottom is back and I am sure we can expect more from this match. All the best!

  • pragmatist on July 30, 2008, 9:34 GMT

    Feel very sorry for Chris Tremlett. Has there ever been a player more selected and left out than him? Mahmood seems to have matured and is worth a look. The spin department is pretty unimpressive, and Monty seems to have lost his mojo somewhat. Batting - I wonder what Rob Key has done wrong? He never even seems to be mentioned these days, but is the sort of substantial batting figure now that England need. I'm not sure about Bopara in the longer form of the game. Maybe Shah is worth another go.

  • Reidy on July 30, 2008, 9:20 GMT

    So you don't consider Matt Prior to be near the top of the batting replacements? Whyever not? He has one of the best records on division 1 so far this season AND has a not too shabby test average already (higher than all others listed above).

  • King_Viv on July 30, 2008, 9:18 GMT

    Good article CMJ! I am not sure quite what Owais Shah has done to upset the powers that be. I can't believe that England have gone straight back to Colly when, with two tests to go this Summer, it would be the ideal time to properly test Shah at the highest level. He has done everything anyone could ask of him in ODIs, Twenty20s and for Middx in the longer form of the game so he deserves the chance to see whether he can step up. Colly could have been assured of his seat on the plane to India and be left to regain his form at Durham. As far as the bowling is concerned, I am disappointed that Harmy was sent home. Perhaps he may play at the Oval but I am left to wonder whether Moores wants to prove a point and stick with "his" team as opposed to returning to the 2005 Ashes bowlers. If England lose this series, that will be two Summers of Moores in charge and two Summers in a row of losing a home series.

  • solangaarachchi on July 30, 2008, 8:50 GMT

    one question I have to ask from England. Why they are unable to produce world class payers in bowling department like Peterson in batting department. If they want to win matches they need them

  • KingKallis on July 30, 2008, 5:41 GMT

    Very good article CMJ!

    Adil Rashid was a rising star but I am not seeing him bowling much these days. I hope England utilize that kid well...

    Marcus Trescothik is in TOP form and he is scoring big hundreds. Why cant the ECB talk with him regarding the return?

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • KingKallis on July 30, 2008, 5:41 GMT

    Very good article CMJ!

    Adil Rashid was a rising star but I am not seeing him bowling much these days. I hope England utilize that kid well...

    Marcus Trescothik is in TOP form and he is scoring big hundreds. Why cant the ECB talk with him regarding the return?

  • solangaarachchi on July 30, 2008, 8:50 GMT

    one question I have to ask from England. Why they are unable to produce world class payers in bowling department like Peterson in batting department. If they want to win matches they need them

  • King_Viv on July 30, 2008, 9:18 GMT

    Good article CMJ! I am not sure quite what Owais Shah has done to upset the powers that be. I can't believe that England have gone straight back to Colly when, with two tests to go this Summer, it would be the ideal time to properly test Shah at the highest level. He has done everything anyone could ask of him in ODIs, Twenty20s and for Middx in the longer form of the game so he deserves the chance to see whether he can step up. Colly could have been assured of his seat on the plane to India and be left to regain his form at Durham. As far as the bowling is concerned, I am disappointed that Harmy was sent home. Perhaps he may play at the Oval but I am left to wonder whether Moores wants to prove a point and stick with "his" team as opposed to returning to the 2005 Ashes bowlers. If England lose this series, that will be two Summers of Moores in charge and two Summers in a row of losing a home series.

  • Reidy on July 30, 2008, 9:20 GMT

    So you don't consider Matt Prior to be near the top of the batting replacements? Whyever not? He has one of the best records on division 1 so far this season AND has a not too shabby test average already (higher than all others listed above).

  • pragmatist on July 30, 2008, 9:34 GMT

    Feel very sorry for Chris Tremlett. Has there ever been a player more selected and left out than him? Mahmood seems to have matured and is worth a look. The spin department is pretty unimpressive, and Monty seems to have lost his mojo somewhat. Batting - I wonder what Rob Key has done wrong? He never even seems to be mentioned these days, but is the sort of substantial batting figure now that England need. I'm not sure about Bopara in the longer form of the game. Maybe Shah is worth another go.

  • Jojy.John on July 30, 2008, 9:59 GMT

    I guess Panesar's place in the side maybe in jeaopardy and rightly so because he has lost his bite but like you pointed out idont see anybody else filling his gap. As far as this team is concerned I just feel theyll perform better knowing that their places in the side are at risk. Sidebottom is back and I am sure we can expect more from this match. All the best!

  • tongy on July 30, 2008, 11:47 GMT

    Two points to be made here:

    1.) Solangaarachchi: England didn't produce Kevin Pietersen, he moved over to England in his late teens / early twenties. As much as i admire / support Pietersen as a player, i don't think England can claim to have produced this mercurial talent.

    2.) JackKallis: Trescothick is indeed in good form but has made it very clear that he has retired from international cricket. As much as it is disappointing that he has taken this decision, England need to respect his wishes and not attempt to pressure him into returning. Tresco clearly called it a day for extraordinary reasons and it would be a retrograde step, both for England and for Tresco himself, to make a u-turn. England need to look forward. Maybe Joe Denly is a future opener.

    And Rob Key should definitely be included in the squad at least.

  • rich952 on July 30, 2008, 13:48 GMT

    After years of watching England's test cricket exploits I feel forced to write this - I cannot understand the persistance of playing Michael Vaughan, he has not made ANY runs in his last 11 tests, yet England's selector are a spineless bunch incapable of making executive decisions, Vaughan currently serve no purpose for the team. He can't bat at the moment, certainly doesn't bowl, and his captinancy skills are poor. Whilst 4 out of the 7 specialist batsmen are 'out of sorts'! I simply do not see the logic. To answer the question on why England are unable to produce world-class players - It is all about application, application, application, and I am afraid that the 'stars' that we have are too busy prancing around on pedalos and falling out of night clubs - I have given up watching Englands football team and have refused to watch them for 2 years, as the these sports events highlight our sportperson's mentality or lack of ambition and deication.

  • Sprewell on July 30, 2008, 14:18 GMT

    This 3rd test is englands best chance of saving this series. Pitch is expected to provide more for the swing bowler (england - sidebottom, anderson) then hit the pitch bowlers (sth africa - ntini, morkel, nel). Later in the match some spin is expected - Panesar (Harris doesnt count because he doesnt spin the ball). The only threatening Sth Africa swing bowler is injured (Steyn). So if the selectors can get their eleven right this match is where England might save the series.

    Bringing Collingwood back is a mistake, but it takes the attention away from Vaughan's poor form. Vaughan & Collingwood shouldnt be playing, Broad is not tired, he is just not a potent bowler, Simon Jones should be playing. I think England has depth, but not the selection strategy.

  • Stellarossa on July 30, 2008, 14:36 GMT

    Forget Tresco, never going to happen. Collingwood should focus on ODIs. Give Shah an extended opportunity - how badly can he don compared to who is batting now?

    Vaughan needs to start scoring...double figures at least or else he is in danger of becoming a non-playing captain, this time not because of injury.