July 13, 2009

England picked the wrong team

In their bowling, they went for quantity and solidity over quality and incisiveness, and none of their batsmen bar one can take a match by the scruff of its neck
74

This may have been the most heavily reported Test match in history. The British newspapers, which have mostly scaled down their cricket coverage, veered the other way when the magic word Ashes came along. Last weekend you couldn't move for preview supplements, and once the match began, some papers were running not two sidebars a day, not four, but six. Even a cricket-loving newspaper junkie was struggling to keep up. The sports editors were rewarded with a thrilling and very British finish as a packed house greeted every dogged defensive shot like a six. And yet still, among all the thousands of well-chosen words that poured out, some things went unsaid. There was an elephant in the media centre. It was this: England picked the wrong team.

The selectors, once all-purpose whipping boys, tend to get an easy ride these days. Fans and pundits tend to agree that there are no alternatives to the regular batsmen, apart from Ian Bell. It's acknowledged that there is competition for bowling slots, but the selectors' choice of five for this match still went widely unquestioned. So let's look at what they did.

They dropped Tim Bresnan for Andrew Flintoff - no arguing with that; when a star is fit again, the understudy returns to the wings. But England also dropped Graham Onions for Monty Panesar. This meant sacrificing a bowler in top form for one having a mid-career crisis. The decision didn't just fly in the face of common sense: it ignored the modern truth that turning pitches often help the wily seamer too. On form, Onions should have been in the first three bowlers picked for Cardiff, with Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann.

It used to be assumed that if England played badly, heads would roll. That led to far too much chopping and changing, and the policy was rightly torn up. But during the David Graveney era, the selectors swung too far the other way. Even Graveney himself went on too long, keeping the chairmanship for nearly 11 years. Geoff Miller has maintained Graveney's conservatism, most strikingly when he handed central contracts to Michael Vaughan and Steve Harmison last autumn. England show ruthlessness very occasionally, as when Vaughan dropped Harmison and Matthew Hoggard for Anderson and Stuart Broad in New Zealand. But mostly they stick rather than twist. And the worse they play, the less likely they are to make changes. On Saturday, when England were rubbish, the ex-pros formed a chorus to say "Don't panic".

England show ruthlessness very occasionally. But mostly they stick rather than twist. And the worse they play, the less likely they are to make changes

Nobody was suggesting panicking. Just taking a long cool look at whether this was really the best XI. Let's consider the bowlers first, as they win matches. England went for quantity and solidity rather than quality and incisiveness. Three of their five choices were essentially defensive - Flintoff, Broad and Panesar. In 41 appearances between them since October 2005, Flintoff and Broad have only one five-for. Both can summon a cutting edge when they have to, but they seldom sustain it for a whole innings. Broad is, as yet, a fourth seamer who has accidentally found himself taking the new ball. Panesar has no shortage of five-fors - eight in 39 Tests - but he needs a bouncy surface to impose himself, which is why he has flourished at Old Trafford and Perth and struggled in the subcontinent. On this curry of a pitch, even Paul Collingwood was a better bet as a bowler than Monty.

It's not how many bowlers you pick: it's how many attacking bowlers. England's quintet looked anodyne before the match began, although not even a sceptic could have foreseen how toothless they would turn out to be. As it was, they batted better than they bowled. In fact they batted better than most of the batsmen; over the two innings, the last five wickets produced more runs than the first five - 194 + 182, easily beating 245 + 70.

The idea that Bell is the only alternative to the batting also needs scrutinising. If there is nobody else, it's because Vaughan has retired, Rob Key is out of form, and the selectors have shown blind loyalty to one or two others. They have lavished 44 Test caps on Alastair Cook, who seldom turns a match. Shane Warne said Monty hadn't played 33 Tests, he had played the same Test 33 times, which was harsh but fair. You could say the same about Cook, who started brightly but has never gone up a gear. Simon Katich, who is no more talented, now reels off match-winning hundreds. Cook has made a hundred in an England win just three times, two of them against West Indies, one against a weakened Pakistan.

When you don't have a born No. 3, a Ponting or a Dravid, the classic plan B is to pick a third opener, a David Boon or a Mark Butcher. England don't have a third opener in sight. Why? Because they have picked Cook so often. England's five specialist batsmen have the same problem as their five bowlers: most of them can't take a match by the scruff of the neck.

Kevin Pietersen can, obviously, when not going through with a crazy shot like a bore in the bar who insists on finishing his point. Ravi Bopara has the personality, but it would be asking a lot for him to do it against Australia at this stage (when Ponting was his age, he was down at No. 6). Strauss, Cook and Collingwood - heroic though he was yesterday - strike fear into nobody. Like Flintoff, Broad and Panesar, they shouldn't all be in the same team. If England beat Australia with this line-up, they will be defying gravity.

Tim de Lisle is the editor of Intelligent Life magazine and a former editor of Wisden

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Woody111 on July 15, 2009, 8:16 GMT

    You surely would not put KP at 3! That is suicide. If you were 1 for anything you could simply add another wicket. He would be useless going in first drop, I think 4 is even too high. If he can demonstrate composure and do away with the childish and petulent " that's the way I bat" rubbish then perhaps put him up, perhaps. For a time he did do this in the first innings but you need to go on with it. He can bat as well as anyone so expectations should be high for him - come on KP: toughen up! Your country needs you!

  • CustomKid on July 15, 2009, 7:00 GMT

    Dacha - best comments on the board. All workmen with little fan fair who got the job done. All averaging under 30, and all tasted victory. This is what we have now in Johnson, Siddle, and Hilf and lets hope the selectors stick with them as they have something about them. Beating SA in their own back yard was no fluke. Lee would be the worst bowler to ever claim 300 scalps. A pass mark for a quality bowler it to average under 30. From 29-26 great, under 25, you are top shelf. He's outside all those categories and has never taken 10 wicket haul in tests.

    As for Collingwood, the criticism is harsh but he's not going to win games for his side. Just look at Adelaide where he made 200+ off 500+ balls and the side still lost. He might bore the opposition to defeat but at best he can save games.

    It's time to forget 2005 chaps. 2006-07 was the last encounter and it appears this Eng side is just as pathetic. Strauss said there were positives - our tail showed fight mahahahaha. He is a joke.

  • Kronen on July 14, 2009, 17:41 GMT

    England did not pick the wrong team, they picked the best team they have for that pitch. Some silly names suggested in these comments from retired or nearly retired players or players that are simply not good enough at test level ( NAPIER, PATEL?).

    Yes, Cook is running out of chances but he is the best we have and is proven at this level scoring centuries against Aus, India and the only century the team scored in Sri Lanka. Bopara is no number 3 but hes better than the timid Bell or nervous wreck Shah. As Peeeeet suggested, put KP at 3 and Bopara at 5. Once again someone finds a reason to criticise Collingwood even after what hes just done. Sure he may not strike fear but least he has fight, unlike most of the others. Sure KP does intimidate, but he can't when hes just found another stupid way to get out. The bowling attack was correct, they just should have done better. The pitch needed two spinners and they should have bowled better.

    Changes, Harmison> Flintoff and Onions> Panesar.

  • peeeeet on July 14, 2009, 15:05 GMT

    Just a few quick further comments...the criticism of Collingwood is unwaranted - this is a man with a double century against the same opposition in their country, the highest run scorer for them in the test and more than handy part timer. If PK comes in at 3, Collingwood can be the rock that the middle order is built around. I also was of the belief that the side's best batsman comes in at 3, not another opener, hence you see over time the likes of Ponting, Kallis, Bradman, Habibul Bashar playing at number 3. So give KP a go there, maybe a bit of added responsibility may sort out his ego. And the spinners need to learn to bowl slower and flight the ball more. Too often were balls up in the high 90km/h mark, they need to get down to the high 70s to low 80s. Thats where Warne was and he was reasonably succesful you could say. Quick balls every now and then to mix it up but generally should be slower. Hauritz was bowling around that speed, hence why he outbowled the English spinners.

  • RomanNoseJob on July 14, 2009, 14:47 GMT

    I agree totally, the fact england pick, arguably, 4 players, and certainly 3 based on ability in two disciplines is indicative of the problem. To scared of the top 5s ability to post totals they pick an average wicket keeper because he can bat, an all rounder and two bowlers that have either earned or kept their place because of their batting.

    This is slightly harsh on 3 of the 4. Swann has proved the most effective spinner, though it's not doubt his inclusion was eased due to his batting. Prior has improved and Flintoff was a match winning star. For broad to have kept his place as a bowler because of a few 50s is unforgiveable though.

    The problem now for the team is what you have touched on with the openers, the wrong players have been given chances. Tremlett, Kabir Ali and Onions have sat in the wings so Broad could develop so long it's unthinkable to give the former two another chance now and what's the betting they will return to Harmison if they need a quick?

  • Serenity on July 14, 2009, 7:04 GMT

    I agree that rather too much of the England team lack offensive (as the opposite of defensive) players, but the cupboard isn't that deep.

    As suggestions, England could open with KEY, DENLY or PETERS as opposed to Cook, who looks out of form and still has technical issues. All three are aggressive batsmen and good fielders and all are currently in form.

    The current middle order I am actually okay with, so would stick with Bopara, Pietersen, Collingwood and Prior for now.

    With Flintoff again injured, and neither Broad nor Panesar (batting heroics notwithstanding) not firing, to which alas could also be added Swann, I would suggest the following attack for Lord's:

    HARMISON, SIDEBOTTOM, Anderson, ONIONS and RASHID. It means that there would be a long tail, Rashid would have to bat at 7, so as that is not an option leave out Anderson and bring in a left-field choice of NAPIER who is an aggressive cricketer in all aspects of his play.

    Any thoughts?

  • terry_2k6 on July 14, 2009, 4:07 GMT

    SOS to Michael Vaughan anyone? Yes he retired, but wouldnt come back given a chance? Yes he's been out of form, but his mental strength is part of what made him a class batsmen, plus his captaining nouce, as Strauss needs direction. Bopara is so far out of his depth.Ok he made 3 Hundreds in 3 Tests, but that was against...The WI's who haven't peaked since Ambrose/Walsh, but becomes Englands saviour at No.3. Time he was sent packing, he's not test quality and Cook just survives. Mark Ramprakash is heading for his 40's but he's still racking up runs. 3 Hundreds this year averaging 80.11 & career average just short of 54.& the bowling was abortionate. When the ball isnt swinging, Andersons dead & Broad is a crock. They need a bowler,similar to/or Harmison that will hurry the batsmen up. The pace attack was 1 Dimensional, & spinners were poor.

    1.Strauss2.Cook3.Vaughan 4.Ramps5.KP6.Freddie (Fit?)7.Prior8.Swann 9.Sidebottom10.Harmison11.Anderson BRING BACK VAUGHAN! A LiL Dreamy perhaps? :)

  • Machozz on July 14, 2009, 3:14 GMT

    This is a balanced article and thanks for that to Tim. It clearly shows that Englands think tank has got it wrong for this test. But it shouldn't be gravity defying to beat Aussie with this setup. England need to get their combination right and everyone should be putting their 100% for the next 4 tests and a proper strategy in place that backs the team selection (having 2 spinners and putting a aggressive strategy to bat is unnecessary given the totals and not able to use them on 4th and 5th day)

    Though I would say Flintoff is more of a asset when he is fully fit. Apart from him and Pietersen, others need to pick their act together.

    Should be a intriguing contest when all come to play.

  • dacha on July 14, 2009, 3:05 GMT

    I want you to think about some people, Merv Hughes, Damian Fleming, Paul Reiffel, Jason Gillespy, Terry Alderman and Alan Davidson. All of them have profoundly better bowling averages than Brett Lee, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Jimmy Anderson and Sir Ian Botham, yet how are they perceived in the consciousness of the English public. Workmen, tradesmen and good back ups to the real stars of the game. How many Englishmen would prefer Davo to Botham or Flintoff, Reiffel to Harmison? Not many I bet! And here lies the difference between English cricket and Australian, Australia would rather be good than look good, we would much rather the hard working and driven than the glorious but damged. There are some young men bowling for Australia that have yet to truly find there feet but when they do you had better watch out. If England want to be good it's time to find a few blokes and get rid of the chaps.

  • chobulre on July 14, 2009, 0:16 GMT

    I would like to be these 11 members in england team for lords test or entire ashes series. Replace Broad with Onions Replace panesar with harmison if Flintoff injured replace with him by Ian Bell . rest of the players as same as 1st Ashes'09 test. If england play with this team i guess they will win in lord's. After ashes it's better to replace anderson with better bowler. Anderson and Broad are in consistency bowlers. and also better to bring patel after ashes series for replacemet of Swann & Panesar..

  • Woody111 on July 15, 2009, 8:16 GMT

    You surely would not put KP at 3! That is suicide. If you were 1 for anything you could simply add another wicket. He would be useless going in first drop, I think 4 is even too high. If he can demonstrate composure and do away with the childish and petulent " that's the way I bat" rubbish then perhaps put him up, perhaps. For a time he did do this in the first innings but you need to go on with it. He can bat as well as anyone so expectations should be high for him - come on KP: toughen up! Your country needs you!

  • CustomKid on July 15, 2009, 7:00 GMT

    Dacha - best comments on the board. All workmen with little fan fair who got the job done. All averaging under 30, and all tasted victory. This is what we have now in Johnson, Siddle, and Hilf and lets hope the selectors stick with them as they have something about them. Beating SA in their own back yard was no fluke. Lee would be the worst bowler to ever claim 300 scalps. A pass mark for a quality bowler it to average under 30. From 29-26 great, under 25, you are top shelf. He's outside all those categories and has never taken 10 wicket haul in tests.

    As for Collingwood, the criticism is harsh but he's not going to win games for his side. Just look at Adelaide where he made 200+ off 500+ balls and the side still lost. He might bore the opposition to defeat but at best he can save games.

    It's time to forget 2005 chaps. 2006-07 was the last encounter and it appears this Eng side is just as pathetic. Strauss said there were positives - our tail showed fight mahahahaha. He is a joke.

  • Kronen on July 14, 2009, 17:41 GMT

    England did not pick the wrong team, they picked the best team they have for that pitch. Some silly names suggested in these comments from retired or nearly retired players or players that are simply not good enough at test level ( NAPIER, PATEL?).

    Yes, Cook is running out of chances but he is the best we have and is proven at this level scoring centuries against Aus, India and the only century the team scored in Sri Lanka. Bopara is no number 3 but hes better than the timid Bell or nervous wreck Shah. As Peeeeet suggested, put KP at 3 and Bopara at 5. Once again someone finds a reason to criticise Collingwood even after what hes just done. Sure he may not strike fear but least he has fight, unlike most of the others. Sure KP does intimidate, but he can't when hes just found another stupid way to get out. The bowling attack was correct, they just should have done better. The pitch needed two spinners and they should have bowled better.

    Changes, Harmison> Flintoff and Onions> Panesar.

  • peeeeet on July 14, 2009, 15:05 GMT

    Just a few quick further comments...the criticism of Collingwood is unwaranted - this is a man with a double century against the same opposition in their country, the highest run scorer for them in the test and more than handy part timer. If PK comes in at 3, Collingwood can be the rock that the middle order is built around. I also was of the belief that the side's best batsman comes in at 3, not another opener, hence you see over time the likes of Ponting, Kallis, Bradman, Habibul Bashar playing at number 3. So give KP a go there, maybe a bit of added responsibility may sort out his ego. And the spinners need to learn to bowl slower and flight the ball more. Too often were balls up in the high 90km/h mark, they need to get down to the high 70s to low 80s. Thats where Warne was and he was reasonably succesful you could say. Quick balls every now and then to mix it up but generally should be slower. Hauritz was bowling around that speed, hence why he outbowled the English spinners.

  • RomanNoseJob on July 14, 2009, 14:47 GMT

    I agree totally, the fact england pick, arguably, 4 players, and certainly 3 based on ability in two disciplines is indicative of the problem. To scared of the top 5s ability to post totals they pick an average wicket keeper because he can bat, an all rounder and two bowlers that have either earned or kept their place because of their batting.

    This is slightly harsh on 3 of the 4. Swann has proved the most effective spinner, though it's not doubt his inclusion was eased due to his batting. Prior has improved and Flintoff was a match winning star. For broad to have kept his place as a bowler because of a few 50s is unforgiveable though.

    The problem now for the team is what you have touched on with the openers, the wrong players have been given chances. Tremlett, Kabir Ali and Onions have sat in the wings so Broad could develop so long it's unthinkable to give the former two another chance now and what's the betting they will return to Harmison if they need a quick?

  • Serenity on July 14, 2009, 7:04 GMT

    I agree that rather too much of the England team lack offensive (as the opposite of defensive) players, but the cupboard isn't that deep.

    As suggestions, England could open with KEY, DENLY or PETERS as opposed to Cook, who looks out of form and still has technical issues. All three are aggressive batsmen and good fielders and all are currently in form.

    The current middle order I am actually okay with, so would stick with Bopara, Pietersen, Collingwood and Prior for now.

    With Flintoff again injured, and neither Broad nor Panesar (batting heroics notwithstanding) not firing, to which alas could also be added Swann, I would suggest the following attack for Lord's:

    HARMISON, SIDEBOTTOM, Anderson, ONIONS and RASHID. It means that there would be a long tail, Rashid would have to bat at 7, so as that is not an option leave out Anderson and bring in a left-field choice of NAPIER who is an aggressive cricketer in all aspects of his play.

    Any thoughts?

  • terry_2k6 on July 14, 2009, 4:07 GMT

    SOS to Michael Vaughan anyone? Yes he retired, but wouldnt come back given a chance? Yes he's been out of form, but his mental strength is part of what made him a class batsmen, plus his captaining nouce, as Strauss needs direction. Bopara is so far out of his depth.Ok he made 3 Hundreds in 3 Tests, but that was against...The WI's who haven't peaked since Ambrose/Walsh, but becomes Englands saviour at No.3. Time he was sent packing, he's not test quality and Cook just survives. Mark Ramprakash is heading for his 40's but he's still racking up runs. 3 Hundreds this year averaging 80.11 & career average just short of 54.& the bowling was abortionate. When the ball isnt swinging, Andersons dead & Broad is a crock. They need a bowler,similar to/or Harmison that will hurry the batsmen up. The pace attack was 1 Dimensional, & spinners were poor.

    1.Strauss2.Cook3.Vaughan 4.Ramps5.KP6.Freddie (Fit?)7.Prior8.Swann 9.Sidebottom10.Harmison11.Anderson BRING BACK VAUGHAN! A LiL Dreamy perhaps? :)

  • Machozz on July 14, 2009, 3:14 GMT

    This is a balanced article and thanks for that to Tim. It clearly shows that Englands think tank has got it wrong for this test. But it shouldn't be gravity defying to beat Aussie with this setup. England need to get their combination right and everyone should be putting their 100% for the next 4 tests and a proper strategy in place that backs the team selection (having 2 spinners and putting a aggressive strategy to bat is unnecessary given the totals and not able to use them on 4th and 5th day)

    Though I would say Flintoff is more of a asset when he is fully fit. Apart from him and Pietersen, others need to pick their act together.

    Should be a intriguing contest when all come to play.

  • dacha on July 14, 2009, 3:05 GMT

    I want you to think about some people, Merv Hughes, Damian Fleming, Paul Reiffel, Jason Gillespy, Terry Alderman and Alan Davidson. All of them have profoundly better bowling averages than Brett Lee, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Jimmy Anderson and Sir Ian Botham, yet how are they perceived in the consciousness of the English public. Workmen, tradesmen and good back ups to the real stars of the game. How many Englishmen would prefer Davo to Botham or Flintoff, Reiffel to Harmison? Not many I bet! And here lies the difference between English cricket and Australian, Australia would rather be good than look good, we would much rather the hard working and driven than the glorious but damged. There are some young men bowling for Australia that have yet to truly find there feet but when they do you had better watch out. If England want to be good it's time to find a few blokes and get rid of the chaps.

  • chobulre on July 14, 2009, 0:16 GMT

    I would like to be these 11 members in england team for lords test or entire ashes series. Replace Broad with Onions Replace panesar with harmison if Flintoff injured replace with him by Ian Bell . rest of the players as same as 1st Ashes'09 test. If england play with this team i guess they will win in lord's. After ashes it's better to replace anderson with better bowler. Anderson and Broad are in consistency bowlers. and also better to bring patel after ashes series for replacemet of Swann & Panesar..

  • Bakul on July 13, 2009, 22:38 GMT

    where is sidebottom? bring him in for panesar. harmison for flintoff. Left armer swinger, right armer swinger, right arm bouncer, right arm spinner.

  • greenfields on July 13, 2009, 22:35 GMT

    You can change who you like but one thing stands out to me more than anything else - ATTITUDE. The English top order are not putting a high price on their wickets. This Australian bowling attack is nothing special, for goodness sake Monty survived 11 overs on a fifth day pitch under intense pressure. If that doesn't tell you something about the resolve of England's top order then nothing else will. Australia are highly beatable, but it will take a modification in attitude for England to do it. At the moment England are making Australia look good with performances which quite frankly, if I was cynical, I would ask how much the bookies were paying them. If England's top order showed the resolve that the tail enders show and the bowlers bowled as well as they bat, I believe England can win. However, as a long time England supporter well used to disapointment and frustration I fear that once again I will be destined to watch England allow the bigheaded Aussies to walk all over us.

  • TheGreatHypnotist on July 13, 2009, 21:52 GMT

    If england to win a Test against Aus..they need to have players who can and did destroy opposition few times. Some bowlers will regularly pick few wickets in each match but that will not win a match but some on their day will destroy the opposition. This phenomenon is also valid for batters too. Monty, broad, strauss, cook, collingwood are like that. They will not win you a test match against a good side. So england need player who will show authority on the fiels when in form.. Pieterson, Flintoff, Vaughan, Shah, Swann, Anderson, Harmison, Onions... One spinner is more than enough in a playing 11. Since Aus have few left handers,, an off-spinner is a must. What about giving an opportunity to Ramprakash ???... so my eleven...1. Strauss 2. Bopara 3. Shah/Bell 4. Pieterson, 5. Ramprakash 6. Prior 7. Flintoff 8. Swann, 9. Abderson 10. Onions, 11. Harmison

  • Fletcha17 on July 13, 2009, 21:48 GMT

    Jesus Christ, where has all this Cook hate come from. No he doesn't the set the world alight but thats not a requirement for a Test opener. The man's fine. Any clamour for Vaughan is nostalgia-based solely and why the hell is Rob Key mentioned ahead of Owais Shah. Hell, Samit Patel could put on another 5 stone and I'd still take him over Key. Collingwood's just saved us a game almost single-handedly and people still want him dropped. Beggars belief. Onions should've played ahead of Panesar. Only change I'd have made. Broad was disappointedly ineffective so maybe Sidebottom is a better option. Harmison will only perform for one test so save that for later. But really, if we win it'll defy gravity cause we're abysmal.

  • NickHughes on July 13, 2009, 21:33 GMT

    Again, to those who have moaned about this current England team, let's hear your alternative XIs. And to Dilanjith44; Vaughn has retired, succumbed to his injuries, Trescothick has retired because of his health problems and Harmison a positive cricketer? The message has got to be heard by all England county cricketers: Play hard and play yourself into this England team.

  • Dan-argent on July 13, 2009, 20:24 GMT

    I totally agree with Tim. Cook should be dropped and regain his form in county cricket. He should be replaced by someone like Stephen Moore, who scored a century for the Lions. Pietersen is also on the last straw. If he does not realise that he needs to change the way he bats, he should be carted back to South Africa. Flintoff is overrated and will not be missed if he is out injured. My team for Lord's would be: Strauss, Moore, Bopara, Pietersen, Collingwood, Foster, Broad, Swann, Sidebottom, Anderson, Onions.

  • Eviltoastsa on July 13, 2009, 20:13 GMT

    Well i'm just gonna say it...England just dont have the ability to beat the aussies at the moment and thats that...U can choose anyone in England any combination possible youre just not gonna win...The English always talk too much and over analyze everything...Stop talking and looking for excuses and get your heads in the right place...I just dont see the aussies being bowled outfor below 200 with any english attack really.... mayb Harmison and Flintoff both being fit and rearing to go might do some damage...But that isnt a reality at the moment...Also the entire atmosphere around the team appears to be kind of lethargic or lacking real zip and confidence...Anyways goodluck mates :)

  • OliverWebber on July 13, 2009, 20:01 GMT

    Why are people so quick to deride Collingwood? He is averaging well over 50 in recent matches, he is mentally strong, reliable, and has got England out of a hole so often it's unbelievable. He is not part of the problem! Certainly there are problems with the other batsmen: Cook has technical problems, Strauss is inconsistent, Bopara is talented but still learning the difference between playing against a weak WI and a strong Australia, Pietersen needs to actually apply himself and his huge talent. But I can't think of one good reason for dropping Collingwood. As for the bowling, it struck me a few months ago watching Aus v SA that the big difference between their quicks and ours was accuracy. When Anderson and Broad bowl an accurate line, they are great, especially if there's swing or bounce. But there are so many misdirected balls! What would Freddie Truman have said...

  • xjalps on July 13, 2009, 19:14 GMT

    One of the problems with England selection you haven't mentioned is that the county championship is completely ignored. A bowler who is averaging 80 in the second division gets selected an few bat an eyelid, Shah was seen as an inevitable choice as backup for the winter tours despite a mediocre season in the second division. On the other hand players like Trott, Joyce, Wagh and Samit Patel are barely mentioned. In Patel's case he gets ignored for England selection despite having a higher first-class average than all but Pietersen in the current England side.If he is now losing weight it seems to be having the same effect on his batting as it had on Inzamam during the 02/03 world cup.

  • AdamG123 on July 13, 2009, 18:44 GMT

    How about picking Stephen Moore , he scored a century against the Aussies even if they weren't at 100% and he consistently scores tons in County Cricket. As for England having no back-up batsmen, what about these: Moore, Jonathan Trott and James Hildreth (not going to name everyone though, it is test cricket). Surely these deserve a chance, if not now, but in the next few series. Our current line-up is just a failure, Cook can't handle world class bowling and the others aren't much better.

  • aditya87 on July 13, 2009, 18:28 GMT

    I agree that England may have picked the wrong team -- but everyone thought that two spinners were going to have a big impact on this wicket, and Monty Panesar who has done well in England would relish this wicket. I agree with you about the bowling attack...Stuart Broad and James Anderson, for all their performances against the West Indies, are too inconsistent and erratic and you can't afford to play both of them. One of them should have been replaced by Onions or Harmison. I think Harmison should come in as replacement for one of the spinners in the next game. As far as number three batsmen are concerned, I agree that you need to pick a third opener, but who's it going to be if not Alistair Cook? I don't think Ravi Bopara is a no.3 ... he's more of a no. 6 batsman. He may prove us all wrong and grow into the role, but you wouldn't be willing to take that chance just yet.

  • balajik1968 on July 13, 2009, 16:27 GMT

    As an Indian, I am really baffled by England's consistent underperformance.They haven't had a credible victory in a long time.This despite having a solid batting line-up and quite a few good bowlers. I remember being really shocked by their poor tactics when India chased down that 387 in Chennai.None of the bowlers looked like taking a wicket except Swann and to a certain extent Flintoff.Panesar looked absolutely pedestrian.If you can't be effective on a 5th day wicket in India, you don't deserve to be called a quality spinner.Warne was right Panesar is like the Bourbons - learned nothing forgot nothing.Having watched England for a long time, I am convinced that there is a certain timidity to the way they approach their cricket.To say that only the Ashes matter is hogwash, they have only 1 Ashes series win in 20 years.Even that I would credit to Australia losing McGrath to injury and the other fast bowlers losing form.

  • iamherenowfear on July 13, 2009, 15:49 GMT

    "The seamers played Ponting into form - if this had happened between two south east asian sides the ICC investigators would be asking for the match tapes." look dynamco, thats in really bad taste.

    having got that off my chest, its easy in hindsight to be clever and critical. if monty had taken 10 wickets, im sure everybody wud be singing a different tune. the thing i dont like abt eng is that the same names just keep coming up when the current crop dont do well. its like thay have a pool of 18 players and just keep rotating them-who cares if all 18 arent in form. adil rashid,, anyone?

  • Dilanjith44 on July 13, 2009, 15:33 GMT

    Great Article which all of the England selectors has to look at if they are to win the Ashes....Strauss is a very weak captain and always wearing a smile maybe happy he can't be dropped because of captain.I think England made a huge blunder by dropping Michael Vaughan for the series.He is a class act who would have given England that Top order Impetus....

    but now it's too late for them as he's retired..For me Cook,Strauss,Collingwood are Lucky to be in the team...Selectors have been blindly loyal to them.....England just can't expect to win a test match with these guys in the team.....at the moment they are tied with defensive Strauss as he is named captain!!...

    England need positive players like Vaughan,Trescothick and Harmison if they are to compete against Australia!!....it is sad to see the likely replacements for the likes of cook,strauss and collingwood is Ian Bell!!this is the sad situation of English cricket at the moment..They are just going to get hammerd by Australia.

  • StaalBurgher on July 13, 2009, 15:11 GMT

    At the end of the day England simply lack the talent to compete with India, South Africa and Australia on a consistent basis. Broadly speaking I would guess there are three factors that influence your success 1) Money, 2) Structure and 3) Number of people (especially lower-middle income) playing. England have the first 2 factors. The third factor they lack. The majority of youngsters that grow up in England do not consider cricket their first choice sport. In fact it comes a distant third. England is the only top-tier country (England always fancies their chance of being number 1 in cricket regardless of reality) where I hear constant ridicule regarding the sport. Football of course is a religion and sucks away the most talented youngsters. Cricket is very much a dying sport in England and even though I doubt it will collapse like West Indies I would advise England supporters to forget ever achieving world-beating status again until you up its popularity.

  • chandau on July 13, 2009, 14:45 GMT

    why is england with such a hyped domestic league starved for quality cricketers? i remember u19 team that toured sri lanka in '88 had many who played in test team like nasser vaughn mark etc. now the problem is not selecting aggressive cricketers. when was the last time england won a real one day or t20 series?? look at the sub continent teams; they win and lose tests but never change the aggressive style, even against australia or south africa. why not bring in guys who excel in one day cricket to complement the collingwoods cooks strausses broads. and admit it; just like australia england don't have quality spinners. swann or monty or haurritz wont get into a club team in india or sri lanka. there was a time asian teams had as much as 3 spinners in the team; that's playing to their strength. may be england need to play more fast men instead of pretending to be world class with a couple of pie chuker spinners. get napier in with Read the best keeper and a left arm quicky and a leggie.

  • NickHughes on July 13, 2009, 14:30 GMT

    It's all very well for Tim De Lisle to say England picked the wrong team but he isn't bold enough to suggest a different line up, especially with the batting. If not Cook, then who to open the innings? If Bopara should go in at #6, then who is the other opener to go in at #3? It's been a long time since England would call on 29 players to fight an Ashes series and the press clamouring for the likes of John Morris, Tim Munton and the Bicknell brothers to have their go in the test team, so who are the press clamouring for these days? There are no outstanding players in country cricket at the moment who can displace Cook and you jettison the grit of Paul Collingwood at your peril. Australia might not fear him, but they are wary of what he can do. So the press should put up or shut up with who should be in the side.

  • jyowen3 on July 13, 2009, 13:30 GMT

    Imagine if the names of Trescothick and Ramprakash were part of this conversation? An opening four of Tresco, Strauss, Ramprakash & Pietersen command far more respect than the lineup currently coming from the pavilion.

  • StJohn on July 13, 2009, 12:50 GMT

    An interesting but ultimately unsatisfying and unhelpful article: it's fine to go on about the problem, but where's the solution? If not defensive bowlers, then who? If not Cook or other defensive batsmen, then who?

  • Cornholio on July 13, 2009, 12:35 GMT

    I agree, with hindsight, but nobody had that before the game. If the wicket had spun like it usually does at Cardiff (ask the Glamorgan bowlers) then Swann and even Monty would've taken centre stage and the quicks would've been able containing bowlers at the other end. It wasn't a bad plan, just the wrong plan for how the wicket turned out.

  • derrida_derider on July 13, 2009, 12:21 GMT

    I don't think either team has caused to be pleased with their attack - on that awful excuse for a wicket this should have been a low scoring match. The Australian bowlers were fairly unexciting, but the England ones were just dreadful. If you win the toss on a pitch that breaks up on the second day you should win, not have to fight for a deperate draw.

    I can't see how they're ever going to get 20 wickets against this strong batting side on more reasonable wickets. Australia have to be strong favourites from here, unless the England selectors produce some aggressive bowling talent from somewhere.

  • znra251 on July 13, 2009, 12:14 GMT

    No, not Harmison please. He was once, for a year a very good bowler, against slightly weaker teams.

    However, that was back int 2004-2005 and i think he has had more than enough chances to prove he is still an international standard bowler and he has failed with everyone of these. He does not have the mental strength to come into an ashes series and if England select him it will be a repeat of the last ashes and his legendary first ball.

    Swann has had one bad game (with the ball) and surely we can overlook this. Monty bowled ok, but still not enough to be the no.1 spinner.

    As for Broad, he is a very tallented player with a great future, however he is not up to the standard yet as a bowler and his batting doesn't quite make up for it. He needs to be developed slowly and maybe this is a series with too much presure for him.

    Sidebottom if fit should return to the side as he gives options and took a lot of wickets.

    And can everyone stop raving about KP! He is a truly exeption

  • the_cooz on July 13, 2009, 11:46 GMT

    I'd have to agree with most of this. For mine, England have the best chance of regaining the Ashes that they'll ever have for some time. Australia are still rebuilding somewhat, whereas most of the England team seem solidified. I do think that Graham Onions or Steve Harmison would be a better bet than Monty because they both bowl aggresively and both (especially Onions) are in good form - better form than Monty. As for Flintoff, I can see why he's regarded as a defensive bowler, but he does have the capacity to be really nasty when needed. And yes, on his day, he can win a Test, or go some way towards doing so. Not sure how Ryan Sidebottom's form is but if swing or versatility are high priority, then he's a possibility too. Be honest though, who'd want to be a selector?

  • dynamco on July 13, 2009, 11:29 GMT

    Start with the captains - one got 150 and had the right bowlers and the right field positions - the other failed with the bat , again , and captained like a school XI newbie. How on earth Broad is opening the bowling forEngland defeats me and ultimately his own side. After lunch on the flatbed Strauss should have had both spinners in place and instead used medium pace that went for 10 runs in the first over. The seamers played Ponting into form - if this had happened between two south east asian sides the ICC investigators would be asking for the match tapes.. Cook seems to be another Ramprakesh who gets more chances than sliced bread but Bopara got a shocking decision and Pietersen is overbalancing with the weight of his ego. In the next game they need someone who can get it throat high whilst line and length at the other end picks up the wickets which means Harmison should bounce em and Onions picks up a good haul. Swann should get in the pactice nets again to find a length.

  • tomjs100 on July 13, 2009, 11:13 GMT

    You're right to an extent. Leaving Onions out for Monty was a mistake, and I'd be surprised if Monty was picked again. However I think the real failure was by the batsman, especially Pietersen. He needs to take a very hard look at his two dismissals and make amends. Is he really saying he's less talented than the 4 Australians who made centuries this match? His arrogance is as astounding as his stupidity; his justification and endorsement (!!) of his dismissal by Hauritz in the first innings was breathtaking. His dismissal in the second innings was equally brainless. On a pitch where edges didn't carry, and when facing up against a bowler generating swing both ways, he left the ball and was bowled. Soft hands next time and a defensive shot! The only person who can take any credit from this match is Collingwood, who has the determination, intellegence and concentration to graft out two very fine innings; a bit more application from all the batters please for next match.

  • Chajgee on July 13, 2009, 11:03 GMT

    I agree with Tim that the wrong team was picked and as for the result it was a shambles , a lucky escape, a very lucky escape. The english selectors have had a habit of favouring certain players over the years, Micheal Vaughan, Ian Bell and now Stuart Broad, more bravado then substance. The main problem in the bowling department is the similarily of the seamers, all bowling at around the same speeds, whilst the spinners are also very much the same aswell. Harmison needs to be in the attack with Flintoff with either Onions or Sidebottom making up the seam attack. As for spin Adil Rashid should be given a chance, he is a good leggy and will provide a change for the norm, he can also bat. As for the selectors well we always play against weak oppositions in a build up to major engagments then rave on about how good we are until we get into a real battle, we then find that actually we are not really that good, Wake up, take a few chances, KP and Flintoff are not the only ones in the team.

  • mattbroad1967 on July 13, 2009, 11:02 GMT

    I feel that England's biggest problem right now is that they are not as good as they think they are.The first innings was not enough as amply demonstrated by the Aussies when they batted.Bearing in mind that Hussey and Hughes both failed. I am not at all sure that the England batsman really looked at their first innings efforts and felt anything other than satisfaction.I feel sure that if say for instance Vaughan had been playing(I know he can't)he would have made a big score(150+)as he so often did in similar situations.Also the bowlers whining about the lack of movement with the ball seemed over the top.Just get on and bowl.That's what the Aussies did and made us pay.This is not a great Aussie side just a very good one who know how to work as fighting unit.With England these days it all seems to be about will KP take off?Will Freddie do the business?No mention seems to be made of any of the other players.Too much emphasis on 2 individuals and not enough on the team collectively.

  • rickarjay on July 13, 2009, 10:50 GMT

    The point about Onions is well made - but criticising batting selection and not suggesting alternatives is weak. Cook averages 44 in tests and has two hundreds in his last 8 Test innings. Scapegoating Cook is short sighted. When certain more attacking batsmen show no balance and waste their talent it is no good shooting at the guys who play a more solid role. It is true that every batsman needs to develop their game - but they don't all need to 'strike fear'. And by the way, Katich also averages 44 in Tests and has two hundreds in the last 8 test innings. In his last 5 series he has 4 hundreds, 2 of which have been part of Aussie victories (against NZ and SA). 1 was in a defeat (against India) and 1 in the draw here against England. That is not reeling off test winning hundreds. SorryTim, but I don't see this as a balanced piece.

  • Jasonharcourt on July 13, 2009, 10:44 GMT

    Very harsh on Cook, I feel - yes, he was out to two poor dismissals, but he has a lot of solidity about him normally and will bounce back.

    Bopara may have got the worst of Doctrove's shocking decisions, but he was suckered into his dismissal. 7-2 field with huge gaps on the leg-side? It might be that the oppo might *just* bowl straight in order to get you playing across the line. Duh. And don't get me started on KP deciding that a straight ball pitched on a good length on a Day 5 pitch that was slow and low to begin with is the right ball to, er, leave.

    Nobody else around to take the place of an England batsman? While Bell was faffing around with the England Lions, someone else was scoring 159 and 61 in the Championship, yet has been discarded far more hastily than it took to finally give him a chance in the first place...

  • StevieM on July 13, 2009, 10:41 GMT

    Agreed that the attack wasn't right with hindsight but I thought it was good before the game. They said it'd be a 2 spinner track so they picked 2 spinners. Ok, it didn't go too well but the track was dead for bowlers. Aus got 19 wickets by England batting pathetically rather than them going well.

    For Lords, Edgbaston and Headingly they'll go with 4 seamers. Broad's going ok and the critism of him I feel is harsh. Anderson and Flintoff take 2 spots without argument and then it's one from Onions, Harmison and Sidebottom. I'm not sure the latter has performed well enough to warrant a recall but would add variety with his left armers that Ponting seems to struggle with.

    If Cook continues to struggle then Moore or Denly could be in with a shout but it's unlikely to give a debut to a batsman in the middle of the Ashes. Who else can open for England? Middle order's ok... if only KP had even a hint of a brain.

  • Steffyboy on July 13, 2009, 10:37 GMT

    I agree with all thats been said but lets not forget that the aussies failed to win the game. Whilst England have plenty to consider with regards to shot selection and bowling strategies they will be quite comfortable knowing that for once that they are not 1-nil down, when indeed they should be. It has to hurt the aussies more knowing that they cheated themselves out of the win and that for two consecutive innings their bowlers struggled to knock over the England tail. Something which is almost unheard of in Ashes contests. Punter must know that the writing is on the wall as he's already resided to using lame excuses for not finishing the job off. Something he used to poor effect in India last year. I am an England fan , I am delusional, I thank you..;-)

  • SSDas on July 13, 2009, 10:28 GMT

    Sorry but this like a lot of your other articles is just ridiculously results-orientated. It also fails to offer no real solutions. When you write something like this before the fact, then it has credibility, but after one bad test match you're just retrospectively bashing the selectors without offering any alternatives.

    Australia score 670-6, you come out with some garbage about going for 'quantity and solidity rather than quality and incisiveness.' Saying that playing two spinners is a mistake after the test isn't hard, but you make decisions on the information given to you at the time. If anything, going for two spinners was a more 'incisive' move than picking Onions would have been. Also take not that Broad has 8 5-wicket hauls in 57 FC games, Onions has 9 in 63. Clearly, a HUGE difference in 'incisiveness' there.

    The reality is that the selection wasn't the problem. We have no real alternatives to the side we played. We just weren't good enough.

  • dr_bab on July 13, 2009, 10:12 GMT

    Good read and many valid poitns, but it would be interesting to read what specific changes should be made to the batting line up. Do you think Cook should be dropped for Bell? Should Phil Mustard or Macheranos be in the team? While they are a poor group of batsmen, I'm not entirely sure they are not Englands best.

  • mikeindex on July 13, 2009, 10:11 GMT

    Interesting and thoughtful piece but a bit short on constructive alternatives - which of Strauss, Cook and Collingwood would you drop and who would you piclk instead? Who indeed would you have picked ahead of Cook for how many of his 44 Tests? (Incidentally my pick at no.3 for the Ashes, before Bopara got those 100s against WI, was Joe Denly).

  • peeeeet on July 13, 2009, 9:50 GMT

    Flintoff isn't and shouldn't have to be the bowler who is going to take 5 wickets and run through the teams. He is an excellent bowler to use in short, sharp spells throughout the day, like the spell he bowled that got rid of Hughes. Its just that the rest of the team bowls so poorly that he is required to bowl more overs, and his effectiveness is limited then. Broad and Monty need to go back to county cricket and take wickets there and make unarguable cases for selection. I don't agree with bringing back Harmi - he is too much of a risk. I'm sure theres other guys in good form who have done the job before that can be brought in (I'm an Aussie so I don't know the performances of some bowlers in county cricket at the moment).

  • Iamnotboredofcricket on July 13, 2009, 9:34 GMT

    Indeed Ponting was down at 6, but with the likes of the Waughs, Taylor, Boon(?) and Slater above him, I suspect Ponting rarely went to the crease with his team in trouble. With Bopara at 6 under the current England top order its hardly the same thing. England made a mistake, like they did in 2005 when they removed Thorpe, by ignoring Vaughan this time. Form is temporary, class is permenant, plus Vaughan's cricketing brain would have greatly helped Strauss who is a weak captain. Panesar was simply the wrong pick his deficiencies have been highlighted for the last year or so. Broad can't be carried to gain experience, we tried it with Bell in 2005 (at the cost of Thorpe) and its proven that experience has counted for nought as Bell hasn't kicked on. Will Broad go the same way? Harmison (out of desperation) and Sidebotham (for variety) in for Broad/Panesar.

  • Wafer on July 13, 2009, 9:23 GMT

    I could take the article more seriously had it been written 5 days ago. But at the start of the match, I heard various people saying the team selection was a positive, attacking one by taking 2 spinners.

    Broad may not be the finished article yet, but he has been improving a lot. No one guessed he would be as inneffectual as he was because in the last year he's learnt a lot and has come on well.

    Flintoff's single 5 for is irrelevant. He's a strike bowler, he comes on, bowls firey spells, gets big wickets and lifts the team. How anyone can describe Flintoff as a defensive selection is beyond me.

    Rather than laying into Cook's form, I'd be more inclined to lay into Straus' captaincy. It seemed a bit bereft of ideas at times, simply sharing the overs evenly amongst the bowlers rather than trying different things depending on the way it was going. If Straus can't make the mark as a captain, Cook is presumably next in line. Some say he should've had it anyway.

  • bmsky on July 13, 2009, 8:52 GMT

    Great article. I had a bet with my mate that Cook would average less than 20 in this series. The guy can't cut it in high pressure situations. Yet we know he won't be dropped (scenes of him laughing and joking on the balcony after being out cheaply in both innings tell you all you need to know about his standing in the closed shop that is the England dressing room).Drop him, and bring in Denly. And while we're at it, let's let Broad go back to the county game for a few weeks - the guy wouldnt get a run out in my local club team the way he bowled this week.

  • Scopey123 on July 13, 2009, 8:34 GMT

    Totally agree.

    But what is the right team then? You have not given any batting alternatives.

    Yes England are weak and not-scary. Our bowling attack last time was a worry for them - this time do you really think Huhges, North or Katich is losing sleep over Panesar or Broad?. We have the "right sort of chaps". We still miss a Trescothick type at the top of the order.

  • Suresh_Joseph on July 13, 2009, 8:31 GMT

    The problem is that England selects players based on their performance against weak opposition. Take a look at the bowlers who have represented England at the international level in the last 2-3 years - Darren Pattinson, Amjad Khan, Graham Onions, Tim Bresnan, Sajid Mahmood, MJ Hoggard, RJ Sidebottom, SJ Harmison, LE Plunkett, CT Tremlett, SCJ Broad, JM Anderson, James Kirtley and when they are not injured, Freddie Flintoff & Simon Jones. That's 15 fast bowlers! There've been 8 keepers - SM Davies, TR Ambrose, MJ Prior, JS Foster, GO Jones, CMW Read, Phil Mustard & PA Nixon!!! And yet, as this article says, there aren't worthy replacements for worthless players... What's saving England is an equally useless Australian bowling attack. It's time for Cook, Bopara, Swann, Panesar, Anderson & Broad to go. And if there are no replacements, bring back the line up from 2005, despite their injuries, illnesses and lack of form. At least they know what it takes to win.

  • sbrice11 on July 13, 2009, 8:29 GMT

    Stuart Broad has a test bowling average of 40, this is not good enough. Yes he is a promising cricketer, but he has been promising for 2 years now and hasn't quite come up to scratch. Harmison is Jekyl and Hyde, in English conditions he is sensational, and overseas, one notorious WI series aside, dire, but he should be picked. Panesar batted admirably, and deserves credit for that, but at Lords there will only be room for one spinner, Swann. Onions should also be picked. Cook does not have a good record against the bigger teams and I doubt he will score many this series. Bopara is a fine player, but I think he is too high at No3. KP could be shifted up a notch. 90% of England's dismissals were due to batting indiscipline, they need to seriously value their wicket and watch how the Aussies gave us a lesson in batting. Hilfenhaus aside, Australia didn't bowl much better than England, but the batsmen need to value their wicket much more.

  • philvic on July 13, 2009, 8:21 GMT

    Quite right, I said it before match and I say it again. Broad is not a test match winning bowler against good sides, and I doubt Onions is either unless conditions are very helpful. Harmison for all his faults could win England a test match and Sidebottom is both solid and sometimes excellent. These 2 need to play for England to have a chance of getting twice through a very good Aussie batting line up. The England batting is probably OK like it is for now.

  • Dilanjith44 on July 13, 2009, 8:07 GMT

    Can't Agree more with Tim!!!.....I can't see Strauss,cook,Collingwood winning a match for England!...They strike fear to nobody...Selectors have been loyal to those conservative Players....They really should have included Vaughan if they were to win the Ashes....Ask the Australians who do they fear Vuaghan or The 3 defensive walls in Cook,strauss,collingwood???......

    I always believed u hv to play like Australia to beat them!!...but these guys just cant move up a gear!!!.....But it's all too late for England selectors as Michael Vaughan has now retired.The player who had great success against the Aussies Opening the Innings!!...The defensive strauss & cook has even denied Vaughan the Opening slot!!...England just simply can't expect to win the Ashes with their current Team!!...

    I would have had Vaughan For cook....Shah for Collingwood with Shah at No.3 and Bopara at No.5!!!...And Onions and Harmison instead of Broad and Panesar......Strauss just lucky to be in there as he is Captain.

  • srik_nar on July 13, 2009, 8:06 GMT

    The opinion is very clear about a wrong team being picked but there is no suggestion about what should be the right team. Onions for Panesar is the only concrete suggestion, otherwise it is about why somebody is not good without any concrete alternative. I am not sure whether the problem is about selection or choice. I guess this team is probably close to the best that England has today based on capability & form (even Panesar's inclusion is justifiable given the nature of the track), so the problem is not about picking the wrong team. The problem is one of choice available to the English selectors, which is something that the ECB needs to address. And regarding the issue of batsmen / bowlers striking fear in the hearts of the opponents, I wonder how many Australians today fit the bill apart from Ponting and say Mitchell Johnson. The fact is Australia is getting its job done with players who are contributing to the team's cause rather than striking fear in opponents' hearts!

  • abdullahtayyab on July 13, 2009, 8:01 GMT

    The only problem was Swann, and if he was replaced by Harmison the team would've fared much better. Monty may very well be a so-so bowler but he could be far more incisive than Swann even on his worst days in the field. You can't have two specialist spinners in the same side unless your spinners possess the quality of Sri Lankans. A senior batsman like Collingwood or Pieterson need to take the number 3 shot with the current number 3 going down the order to learn some tricks of the trade without being under immense pressure.

  • Gebby on July 13, 2009, 7:55 GMT

    "If it ain't broke don't fix it"; it IS broke so fix it immediately.

    BOPARA looked like a rabbit in headlights and god only knows what criteria got PANESAR back in.

    BELL is our most "correct" batsman, HARMISON should be picked for series played at home; get these two in quick before it's too late.

    Thankfully their captain is as tactically piss poor as is ours.

  • JackMacl on July 13, 2009, 7:30 GMT

    This is absolutely spot on. Broad and Panesar should go for Onions and Sidebottom, who I still can't belive wasn't even in the thirteen man squad. This is absolutely brilliant stuff, England can't get by against Australia without intimidation, which they have none of.

  • OtisFirefly on July 13, 2009, 7:29 GMT

    Excellent article. And regrettably painfully true. Every point you make I am in complete agreement with, sadly. Just a word of consolation for Australian fans. Your team played superbly well and in the absence of a magician like Mr. Warne, on a very flat and unhelpful track just failed to get their just deserves. But don't fret although your team will be disappointed I think they will feel that they have the beating of a very spineless English team. As always Ricky Ponting batted terrifically and was extremely gracious when it would have been far easier to be bitter. I wish Strauss could at least have the good grace to admit how poor England were, with a few exceptions, and how well Australia played. Lets us hope that the rest of the series is as thrilling and perhaps more closely contested.

  • RohitJaishankar on July 13, 2009, 7:19 GMT

    Right on the money Tim. As an Indian, I have always wondered though how Flintoff escapes with absolutely no criticism always. How long can someone live on heroics performed 4 years ago?

  • star4247 on July 13, 2009, 7:13 GMT

    I think Tim is absolutely on the spot when he says that England Picked a wrong team. Might sound stupid, But Steve Harmison has to play the next test. He is wayward at times, but he is in pretty decent form and all of us know the capabilities of him as a 6' 4'' bowler who hits the deck hard. Ravi Bopara, he seems really uncomfortable at the pitch and Ian Bell should be joining him. I know Shane Warne talks off the field or on the field but I think he's right with Ravi Bopara. He doesn't look like he's a test batsman. The swing services of Matthew Hoggard and Simon Jones were clearly missed but I strongly feel that England can come back strong. Remember what happened in 2005 Ashes when England went down to Australia in the first test but came back strongly. Harmison in for Panesar, Sidebottom/Onions in for Broad/Anderson and Ian Bell for Ravi Bopara. Swann needs to bowl better if not the young leg spinner could be a nice introduction.

  • SimoninDoha on July 13, 2009, 7:12 GMT

    Given the choice historically, Australia might have opted to have 2 English players in their team, Flintoff and KP. They would not now. Strauss and Cook would struggle to get in any test team, apart from New Zealand perhaps. Are there no serious contenders for operners in England now? And for number 3 or 4 do we really only have Bell to fall back on? It is a poor reflection of English cricket that we don't have much talent coming through. On the bowling side we fare a bit better, we have Harmison, Onions and Sidebottom in the wings, but they are not match winners either (Harmison can be on his day). We are tied to Strauss now for the series, but what if he continues to fail with the bat? The real concern is, unlike our football and rugby teams, we don't have queues of young players desperate to play for their country in cricket

  • boris6491 on July 13, 2009, 6:59 GMT

    I believe Panesar certainly didnt deserve his spot and he didnt do much to prove that he did and should certainly be dropped for the second test. The main issue with England's bowlers is that most of them seem quite flat when the ball doesnt swing. Anderson was helpless with the ball not swinging, Broad looked tame and Flintoff, but for a quite brilliant first spell, did not look too impressive either. I agree with Tim in that they were all bowling very defensively but feel that some of their bowlers CAN attack but simply werent. England cant call for lots of changes as that would ruin the balance of the side but Harmison needs to return to the squad as does Sidebottom. Panesar needs to go for sure. And without doubt, as Dutchy said, Andrew Flintoff needs to step up to prove that he can still perform and is not a poster boy, as he has been for the last 4 years since the one series he performed well in. Otherwise, England need to move on. As an Aussie, its pleasing they are playing well

  • _Australian_ on July 13, 2009, 6:56 GMT

    I agree with the article. I think Englands biggest problem is their is far too much listening to the media hype. All the thought was Australia have a weak bowling attack and batting line up. Yes they have lost a huge amount of talent but they have still managed to remain the no.1 ranked test side but this seems to be forgotten along with the 2007 series. I think the England side expected to dominate. In the bowling department the only error in selection was also believing the media hype that Australia can't play spin and picking 2 spinners on a pitch that was not the raging turner expected. Although an excellent effort in surviving day 5 it was hardly a difficult pitch to bat on. If they did not lose a whole session to rain on day 4 Australia would have won. Thank the weather.

  • CustomKid on July 13, 2009, 6:35 GMT

    England's team has 95 more game of test match experience than Australia. Eng 414 - Aus 319 (132 of those by Ponting). They have been tried and tested for a long time since 2005 and have very little to show for it. At best I'd say they have 2 match winners. KP who is to busy battling his own ego and Flintoff who to doesn't look at all interested. The rest are serviceable at best. Again if they manage to win this series let a lone a test it will be a miracle. Had the Aussies won yesterday I think the result would have been 5 zip weather permitting. Regardless before the summer is out, Strauss wont be wearing his cheesy toothy grin. At some stage he'll feel the cold steel blade between his shoulders administered from his senior management team.

  • ruvvy on July 13, 2009, 6:31 GMT

    Valid points; Would have been better appreciated before the start of the test match? Bowling machines would probably get more batsmen out than Braod & Panesar (unless they bowl against the England team). When you don't have an obvious talent to persevered with, its best to bet on form. Rules out Harmison doesn't it? I feel Strauss lacks imagination /instinct to help his spinners or other bowlers for that matter (though it should hardly matters against West Indies and Bangladesh). So, just focusing on the bowlers shortcomings and ignoring insipidity of the support he gets on the field will not take the team any further.

  • pitolheart1 on July 13, 2009, 6:20 GMT

    Good article, sums up the dilemmas being faced by English cricket. However, i feel you have ignored the other Elephant in the dressing room which is the lackluster captaincy exhibited by Strauss. You just mentioned Strauss as being one of the batsmen to strike the least fear into the hearts of the Aussies, so imagine the deficit in the amount of fear when that less than formidable batsman becomes a lackluster captain! I never thought Strauss had it in him to lead a side, and i haven't seen anything yet to prove me wrong.

  • Pratik_vodka on July 13, 2009, 6:11 GMT

    To be honest and frank I really am not suprised that the way england played and how the team make up looks. England i think post Ian Botham era has never looked threatning. You have never had consistent performers just a few flash in the pants like the Thorpes, Hussain Vaughn, all also not very consistent throught the career. Similar case is KP now. 2005 was a major upset by the slightest of margins the series would have been 3-0 just with a difference of a run or two, in the favour of the Aussies.England i am sorry to say, lacks talent to such an extent that they will be in the 5th-6th test ICC ranking for many years to come. I dont know the reason but England is no match for the talent Australia South Africa India Pakistan Sri Lanka produce. And hence at best will be a good competitors trying not to loose but never trying to win other than once in a blue moon plus some lady luck.

  • kumar692 on July 13, 2009, 5:48 GMT

    What England need's right now is some sort of variety in their bowling attack.Last time england gave very tough time to Australian batsman because of their variety in bowling attack which is missing at this point of time.If england really wants to make any impression in this series they have to bring their key bowlers back especially Rayn Sidebottom who can swing the bowl at the same time he can integrate that aggregation which england team lacks right now.

  • vswami on July 13, 2009, 5:42 GMT

    I hope someone can analyse why Flintoff appears to bowl fearsome spells and yet has only 3 five-fors in his entire first class career. He keeps impressing with his speed and bounce, but batsmen all levels just dont get out to him. Batsmen at all levels these days can play bowlers who bowl straight, irrespective of whatever pace they bowl. An extreme case is someone like Mohammed Sami regularly bowled at 90+ and ended his career with an average of 50+.

  • Crusader1980 on July 13, 2009, 5:36 GMT

    Tim is absolutely right in saying "Broad is, as yet, a fourth seamer who has accidentally found himself taking the new ball", he is still in the devoloping stage of his career and is currently a bit of this and that (bowling and batting). We cant call him a strike bowler as yet. If they can bring in Onions or Harmison to partner Anderson with the expense of Panesar, that will definitely give a more attacking look to their bowling. Another weak point in the batting is that none of the top three are attacking batsmen comapring with Hughes and Ponting fro Australia which will allow the opening bowlers to settle into a nice rhythm early.

  • kris_mg on July 13, 2009, 5:12 GMT

    I think I would tend to agree with you there except in the case of Flintoff. Even though he could be said a defensive option, his capacity to bowl down extremely fierce and intimidating spells in between is an attacking option England will always need. The difference was very palpable between the both the bowling and the batting attacks of both sides.. The Aussies showed their grit, patience and determination to prove that this team is no less than the dream team of yesteryears.. They had something to prove and its driving them.. Meanwhile England looks as if they are not motivated in the same manner unless they are really pushed to the wall.. Even then they just escaped.. England need a set of bowlers who will be able to 20 wickets or atleast 16 of em, else they are doomed.. Also isnt there no other promising batsman in the huge county cricket. No other option if one of the current crop fails..

  • dutchy on July 13, 2009, 5:06 GMT

    Why no criticism of Flintoff? Is he no longer required to score runs or take wickets? When was the last time he won a test match?

  • CustomKid on July 13, 2009, 4:57 GMT

    That is the best article I have read in years, yes I'm an Aussie but that is so true. If England do win this series it will be a bigger upset than 2005! All their bowlers average above 30, and their batsmen other than KP strike fear in to bowlers hearts.

    As much as I hate to say it, Australia in the last two years post McGrath, Warne, etc followed England's current path to a tee. We were beating up the tourists and weak such as the WI but were found out in India and then home by South Africa with a team of players past their used by date.

    The selectors to their credit last summer took the bull by the horns and gave some young blood the opportunity. Johnson, Siddle, Hilfenhause, Hughes, North along with Hauritz and they have turned it around. We aren't world beaters but we have a good mix of youth and seniors and on our day we'll match it with the best.

    England need to take this approach also, but I can understand that they don't want to do this for an ashes series.

  • Nabeel6818 on July 13, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    Tim is very right the combination selected by England wasn't right. They need more firepower in bowling department. It was the oomph in their bowling which won them the Ashes in 2005. Harmison should definitely be in the playing XI for Lord's and Ryan Sidebottom should also be brought in to lend the attack more versatility.

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  • Nabeel6818 on July 13, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    Tim is very right the combination selected by England wasn't right. They need more firepower in bowling department. It was the oomph in their bowling which won them the Ashes in 2005. Harmison should definitely be in the playing XI for Lord's and Ryan Sidebottom should also be brought in to lend the attack more versatility.

  • CustomKid on July 13, 2009, 4:57 GMT

    That is the best article I have read in years, yes I'm an Aussie but that is so true. If England do win this series it will be a bigger upset than 2005! All their bowlers average above 30, and their batsmen other than KP strike fear in to bowlers hearts.

    As much as I hate to say it, Australia in the last two years post McGrath, Warne, etc followed England's current path to a tee. We were beating up the tourists and weak such as the WI but were found out in India and then home by South Africa with a team of players past their used by date.

    The selectors to their credit last summer took the bull by the horns and gave some young blood the opportunity. Johnson, Siddle, Hilfenhause, Hughes, North along with Hauritz and they have turned it around. We aren't world beaters but we have a good mix of youth and seniors and on our day we'll match it with the best.

    England need to take this approach also, but I can understand that they don't want to do this for an ashes series.

  • dutchy on July 13, 2009, 5:06 GMT

    Why no criticism of Flintoff? Is he no longer required to score runs or take wickets? When was the last time he won a test match?

  • kris_mg on July 13, 2009, 5:12 GMT

    I think I would tend to agree with you there except in the case of Flintoff. Even though he could be said a defensive option, his capacity to bowl down extremely fierce and intimidating spells in between is an attacking option England will always need. The difference was very palpable between the both the bowling and the batting attacks of both sides.. The Aussies showed their grit, patience and determination to prove that this team is no less than the dream team of yesteryears.. They had something to prove and its driving them.. Meanwhile England looks as if they are not motivated in the same manner unless they are really pushed to the wall.. Even then they just escaped.. England need a set of bowlers who will be able to 20 wickets or atleast 16 of em, else they are doomed.. Also isnt there no other promising batsman in the huge county cricket. No other option if one of the current crop fails..

  • Crusader1980 on July 13, 2009, 5:36 GMT

    Tim is absolutely right in saying "Broad is, as yet, a fourth seamer who has accidentally found himself taking the new ball", he is still in the devoloping stage of his career and is currently a bit of this and that (bowling and batting). We cant call him a strike bowler as yet. If they can bring in Onions or Harmison to partner Anderson with the expense of Panesar, that will definitely give a more attacking look to their bowling. Another weak point in the batting is that none of the top three are attacking batsmen comapring with Hughes and Ponting fro Australia which will allow the opening bowlers to settle into a nice rhythm early.

  • vswami on July 13, 2009, 5:42 GMT

    I hope someone can analyse why Flintoff appears to bowl fearsome spells and yet has only 3 five-fors in his entire first class career. He keeps impressing with his speed and bounce, but batsmen all levels just dont get out to him. Batsmen at all levels these days can play bowlers who bowl straight, irrespective of whatever pace they bowl. An extreme case is someone like Mohammed Sami regularly bowled at 90+ and ended his career with an average of 50+.

  • kumar692 on July 13, 2009, 5:48 GMT

    What England need's right now is some sort of variety in their bowling attack.Last time england gave very tough time to Australian batsman because of their variety in bowling attack which is missing at this point of time.If england really wants to make any impression in this series they have to bring their key bowlers back especially Rayn Sidebottom who can swing the bowl at the same time he can integrate that aggregation which england team lacks right now.

  • Pratik_vodka on July 13, 2009, 6:11 GMT

    To be honest and frank I really am not suprised that the way england played and how the team make up looks. England i think post Ian Botham era has never looked threatning. You have never had consistent performers just a few flash in the pants like the Thorpes, Hussain Vaughn, all also not very consistent throught the career. Similar case is KP now. 2005 was a major upset by the slightest of margins the series would have been 3-0 just with a difference of a run or two, in the favour of the Aussies.England i am sorry to say, lacks talent to such an extent that they will be in the 5th-6th test ICC ranking for many years to come. I dont know the reason but England is no match for the talent Australia South Africa India Pakistan Sri Lanka produce. And hence at best will be a good competitors trying not to loose but never trying to win other than once in a blue moon plus some lady luck.

  • pitolheart1 on July 13, 2009, 6:20 GMT

    Good article, sums up the dilemmas being faced by English cricket. However, i feel you have ignored the other Elephant in the dressing room which is the lackluster captaincy exhibited by Strauss. You just mentioned Strauss as being one of the batsmen to strike the least fear into the hearts of the Aussies, so imagine the deficit in the amount of fear when that less than formidable batsman becomes a lackluster captain! I never thought Strauss had it in him to lead a side, and i haven't seen anything yet to prove me wrong.

  • ruvvy on July 13, 2009, 6:31 GMT

    Valid points; Would have been better appreciated before the start of the test match? Bowling machines would probably get more batsmen out than Braod & Panesar (unless they bowl against the England team). When you don't have an obvious talent to persevered with, its best to bet on form. Rules out Harmison doesn't it? I feel Strauss lacks imagination /instinct to help his spinners or other bowlers for that matter (though it should hardly matters against West Indies and Bangladesh). So, just focusing on the bowlers shortcomings and ignoring insipidity of the support he gets on the field will not take the team any further.