August 12, 2009

Sending out an SOS

Why Mark Ramprakash should be called up for The Oval, and how things have changed drastically post-Headingley, despite England's denials
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There's a good moment in Toy Story when Buzz Lightyear, the magnificently dim space toy, tells Woody, the world-weary cowboy, "Sheriff, this is no time to panic." On the contrary, says Woody, "This is the perfect time to panic." Andrew Strauss isn't dim, but he has been making Lightyear-like noises this week. The fans and pundits are playing the Woody role: they know the time to panic is nigh.

In Cricinfo's poll on who should bat at No. 3 for England at The Oval, Mark Ramprakash has picked up more votes than Ravi Bopara and Ian Bell combined. The Times asked four of its county-cricket writers to name their preferred top five: all four picked Ramps. The Ramps camp also includes Alec Stewart, who knows him well and got the best out of him as England captain, Chris Adams, his current boss, and Scyld Berry, the wise old bird of the press box. Cometh the hour, cometh the Ramps.

If you put Ramprakash up against Bopara, it's a no-brainer. Ramps has the edge on form, technique, experience, local knowledge and record against Australia. There are doubts about both men's temperament, but the last time Ramprakash faced Australia, he made 133 against McGrath and Warne at the Oval, and he has only improved since. Some would prefer Rob Key, for his heart and nous. Both are surely better bets than Bell and Bopara, and better foils to Cook and Collingwood. England have backed a mousy set of batsmen for a long time, and now, with no big beasts to shield them, the mice are being gobbled up.

Selectors earn their keep at moments like these, by taking bold decisions, not offering inertia. Here is a stronger XI than the one that was crushed at Headingley: Strauss, Key (to open with left and right), Cook (better at three than opening), Ramprakash, Prior (sandwiched between two sober citizens), Collingwood, Flintoff, Broad (flattered by that scorecard, but clinging on), Swann, Anderson (if truly fit, otherwise Onions), Sidebottom (tougher than Harmison, fresher than Onions, good control). Twelfth man Rashid, to add zest. No extreme measures, nothing "wholesale", just three sensible changes. It shouldn't just be for one match, either: England's toughest challenge this year is still ahead, in South Africa.

The England management is trying to deny that Headingley changed things. In fact, it changed a lot of things:

1. These Aussies now know they can win in England
Before Headingley, Australia had gone seven Tests in England without a win - from Edgbaston 2005 to Edgbaston 2009; they lost three and drew four. Eight of their XI didn't know how it felt to win a Test in England: only Ricky Ponting, Simon Katich and Michael Clarke had ever done so. And that was with McGrath and Warne there to take a shedload of wickets at under 20. Now, they all know how it feels to win in England without any geniuses on board. They may just have developed a taste for it.

2. Australia are now favourites
This won't bother them, but it could give England a perverse lift. Backing the underdog is so ingrained in our national character, we want to be the underdog too. This England team usually flop before they flourish, and they certainly flopped at Headingley.

3. England are still prone to collapse
One hundred and two is twice as many as 51, but just as useless. And in their next innings, when they might well have bounced back, the middle order was still shellshocked. This is why the same top five should not appear again.

4. England are even more unbalanced than we thought
We knew England's batsmen were dangerously timid, but at Headingley they took this to new extremes. All five of the specialist batsmen were tentative. In their 10 innings, they made just 115 from 304 balls, with 13 fours. The bottom six made 211 from 282 balls with 30 fours and a six. The non-specialists' strike-rate, 74, was exactly double the specialists'. It's not that the tail had all the answers: Broad and Swann, after an hour of merry slogging, should have calmed down and cashed in as the bowlers flagged. It's that England were a weird pantomime horse, consisting of Eeyore at the front and Tigger behind. It's another reason why they need to shake up the middle order. This is no time for the next cab off the rank, to use the selectors' favourite cliché. It's time for a people carrier and a supercar: Flintoff and Ramprakash.

Some would prefer Key over Ramprakash, for his heart and nous, but both are surely better bets than Bell and Bopara. England have backed a mousy set of batsmen for a long time, and now, with no big beasts to shield them, the mice are being gobbled up

5. Australia have a Test attack For the first three Tests, they had a county attack. Now they have added a proper Test bowler, Stuart Clark, and rediscovered another in Mitchell Johnson, who Ian Bell played back into form. With his low arm, Johnson could lose his mojo as quickly as he found it, but if Australia stick with four seamers, they can hide him. With Ben Hilfenhaus showing great control to go with his swing, only Peter Siddle is still below Test standard. Don't write him off, though: he may have been flattered by his figures at Headingley (as was Broad: two worse five-fors you will seldom see), but the Oval could just be the place for his dogged bombing.

6. Flintoff is worth picking as a batsman
This hasn't been true for much of his career, but it is now. Flintoff's 74 at Edgbaston was England's highest individual score of the past two Tests. The selectors have been demanding that he play his part as an allrounder by bowling at least 15 overs a day. But England's middle order is now so wretched that if you were picking on batting form alone, he would be the second choice among the regulars, after Strauss. He is also a fine second slip and a big presence. And once on the field, he would surely be unable to resist having a bowl. Even if he managed only one spell a day, he would still be in the batsmen's minds.

7. Beating the Aussies will mean a lot
After Edgbaston the series was in danger of going flat. It could have finished 1-0 to England, which is no kind of result for a five-Test series in modern Test cricket. Or it could have been 2-0, which would hardly have been deserved after the narrow squeak in Cardiff, and would have left the feeling that it was more a case of Australia being poor than England being good. We Poms just have to grit our bad teeth, and concede that 1-1 is a fair reflection of the series so far. And if England do turn it around and win at The Oval, it will once again be a famous victory. The mice will have outwitted the cat: from Toy Story to Tom and Jerry.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • concordeboad on August 15, 2009, 23:08 GMT

    We should stick with the side we have had since day one. The same players were good enough when we won at Lords, fair enough few England players could hold thier hands up and say they had a good game at Headingly but lets not go back to bad old days of players having one or two bad scores/spells and they get the chop.

  • topeleven on August 14, 2009, 11:31 GMT

    It's good thot of promoting Prior in the middle. Exactly I was thinking the same and thot of posting it somewhere.If couple of quick wickets do fell there needs someone with a clear intent of attacking.In the absence of KP, Prior is a good choicec. But changing the opening pair will not be good as they have not done anything worse. This is a good opening pair England have got for some 3 to 4 years. In case if they have to go for change at No 3 they can select Joe Denly or Mark Ramprakash . Former is a good prospect for the future. But the Aussies will definitely win the ashes bcoz they have the momentum and are better in the series both with bat and ball. Their batsmen has scored 7 centuries and have taken 65 wkts where as Englans has 1 centurion and have taken 45 wickets. May the best team win the Ashes.

  • popcorn on August 14, 2009, 6:42 GMT

    England are surely in panic mode! For Geoff Miller to even to think about Mark Ramprakash is a poor reflection of selection Criteria and does nothing for the younger players. Why at all was he dropped from the Team? But this IS England - chip chop. And we can watch, amusedly.

  • SidArthur on August 14, 2009, 4:30 GMT

    "No geniuses on board"?! I suppose Ponting and Clark M are just ordinary batsmen, and Haddin an ordinary keeper-batsman; in his last article Tim compared the Aussies with the poms and metaphorically scorned their lack of suntan - I commented that such gloating was premature, and that Australia's superior batting would eventually tell - then came the 4th Test - say no more. If Australia has no great players in their side, then Tim is a dunce.

  • the_reekster on August 13, 2009, 23:49 GMT

    The fact that Ramps is 39 should be of no consequence to selectors looking for the future. Whatever happens this will be Flintoff's last test match but i hear no comments from people suggesting that he shouldn't be picked because we should be looking to the future. You pick your best team from those available on the day. If that selection comes at the start of their career or at the end of it it matters not a jot. What matters is winning the match and in this case the series and regaining the Ashes. Our batting line up looks like it has no spine to it. Just put the ball outside the off stump and they'll all have a waft and a nick one eventually. Ramps and Key are in form and would add an air of stickability to the side that is sadly lacking now.

  • Munkeymomo on August 13, 2009, 23:14 GMT

    Rooboy...if it wasnt for rain it would be 2-2...edgbaston...remember?

  • Charlie_4.0 on August 13, 2009, 19:38 GMT

    Woohoo! Tim deLisle for chairman of selectors! It would be great to see Prior move up the order and to see the svelte Rob Key back in the team. I'm all in favour of Gramps too; he could show Ian Bell the benefits of an 8-year absence from the side. Tim, don't listen to the Aussies with no sense of humour whingeing about your piece; when it comes to mud-slinging, they're great front runners, but if you say something nasty about one of their players, their body language goes to pieces.

  • JimDavis on August 13, 2009, 17:32 GMT

    Tim, bit harsh on Siddle, his 5-for and his bowling abilities, especially considering none of the 5 were Bopara, Bell or Collingwood. You know, if it wasn't for Bopara, Siddle would have the most wickets in the series.

  • balajik1968 on August 13, 2009, 14:47 GMT

    I don't know about the changes that England propose to make, but I do know that Bell is an underwhelming figure. During the one-day series in India,England chased a 9 runs/over target and what did Bell and his partner do : waste the 1st powerplay.He played as if he had 50 overs to chase 100.He has never inspired confidence at no. 3. The Aussies put the man they rate as their best bat at No. 3. Using that logic I think KP should take that slot when he comes back. The English line-up for all its talent looks underwhelming.This series should be a reality check for Bopara after the high against a poor West Indies team.It is time England revamped their middle order if they have to become a quality team.The difference between England and Australia is that the Aussies play around their best performer; England has been too lazy and relied on the Flintoff Pietersen pair to pull them through.

  • tusharkardile on August 13, 2009, 13:27 GMT

    How can you guys compare Ramps to Nass, Gower or Booney? Ramps is not retired, he is still playing and in contention for the test spot. If he gets it, it will be as hard earned as it would have been for Key ot Trott or whoever else it could be.

  • concordeboad on August 15, 2009, 23:08 GMT

    We should stick with the side we have had since day one. The same players were good enough when we won at Lords, fair enough few England players could hold thier hands up and say they had a good game at Headingly but lets not go back to bad old days of players having one or two bad scores/spells and they get the chop.

  • topeleven on August 14, 2009, 11:31 GMT

    It's good thot of promoting Prior in the middle. Exactly I was thinking the same and thot of posting it somewhere.If couple of quick wickets do fell there needs someone with a clear intent of attacking.In the absence of KP, Prior is a good choicec. But changing the opening pair will not be good as they have not done anything worse. This is a good opening pair England have got for some 3 to 4 years. In case if they have to go for change at No 3 they can select Joe Denly or Mark Ramprakash . Former is a good prospect for the future. But the Aussies will definitely win the ashes bcoz they have the momentum and are better in the series both with bat and ball. Their batsmen has scored 7 centuries and have taken 65 wkts where as Englans has 1 centurion and have taken 45 wickets. May the best team win the Ashes.

  • popcorn on August 14, 2009, 6:42 GMT

    England are surely in panic mode! For Geoff Miller to even to think about Mark Ramprakash is a poor reflection of selection Criteria and does nothing for the younger players. Why at all was he dropped from the Team? But this IS England - chip chop. And we can watch, amusedly.

  • SidArthur on August 14, 2009, 4:30 GMT

    "No geniuses on board"?! I suppose Ponting and Clark M are just ordinary batsmen, and Haddin an ordinary keeper-batsman; in his last article Tim compared the Aussies with the poms and metaphorically scorned their lack of suntan - I commented that such gloating was premature, and that Australia's superior batting would eventually tell - then came the 4th Test - say no more. If Australia has no great players in their side, then Tim is a dunce.

  • the_reekster on August 13, 2009, 23:49 GMT

    The fact that Ramps is 39 should be of no consequence to selectors looking for the future. Whatever happens this will be Flintoff's last test match but i hear no comments from people suggesting that he shouldn't be picked because we should be looking to the future. You pick your best team from those available on the day. If that selection comes at the start of their career or at the end of it it matters not a jot. What matters is winning the match and in this case the series and regaining the Ashes. Our batting line up looks like it has no spine to it. Just put the ball outside the off stump and they'll all have a waft and a nick one eventually. Ramps and Key are in form and would add an air of stickability to the side that is sadly lacking now.

  • Munkeymomo on August 13, 2009, 23:14 GMT

    Rooboy...if it wasnt for rain it would be 2-2...edgbaston...remember?

  • Charlie_4.0 on August 13, 2009, 19:38 GMT

    Woohoo! Tim deLisle for chairman of selectors! It would be great to see Prior move up the order and to see the svelte Rob Key back in the team. I'm all in favour of Gramps too; he could show Ian Bell the benefits of an 8-year absence from the side. Tim, don't listen to the Aussies with no sense of humour whingeing about your piece; when it comes to mud-slinging, they're great front runners, but if you say something nasty about one of their players, their body language goes to pieces.

  • JimDavis on August 13, 2009, 17:32 GMT

    Tim, bit harsh on Siddle, his 5-for and his bowling abilities, especially considering none of the 5 were Bopara, Bell or Collingwood. You know, if it wasn't for Bopara, Siddle would have the most wickets in the series.

  • balajik1968 on August 13, 2009, 14:47 GMT

    I don't know about the changes that England propose to make, but I do know that Bell is an underwhelming figure. During the one-day series in India,England chased a 9 runs/over target and what did Bell and his partner do : waste the 1st powerplay.He played as if he had 50 overs to chase 100.He has never inspired confidence at no. 3. The Aussies put the man they rate as their best bat at No. 3. Using that logic I think KP should take that slot when he comes back. The English line-up for all its talent looks underwhelming.This series should be a reality check for Bopara after the high against a poor West Indies team.It is time England revamped their middle order if they have to become a quality team.The difference between England and Australia is that the Aussies play around their best performer; England has been too lazy and relied on the Flintoff Pietersen pair to pull them through.

  • tusharkardile on August 13, 2009, 13:27 GMT

    How can you guys compare Ramps to Nass, Gower or Booney? Ramps is not retired, he is still playing and in contention for the test spot. If he gets it, it will be as hard earned as it would have been for Key ot Trott or whoever else it could be.

  • why450 on August 13, 2009, 13:00 GMT

    I keep coming and reading article after article about recalling Ramps, you people make me sick. SO NEGATIVE, it shows in your cricket, the way you play takes a negative approach but i thought that was just management's fault but now i realize that thats how people in England think. YOU ARE A NEGATIVE NATION, sorry to say but it is true. If Ramps is the best why wasn't he chosen since test one or why wasn't he in the frame of selection since then?????? Pick whoever you want to pick but you have already lost the Ashes. for your negativity. In 2005 you guys were crushed in the first but there were no frantic running around and you won there, you were positive. Be positive now and just replace Bopara with Trott and show some more confidence in Bell. That way even if you lose the Ashes you go do with dignity and pride as the side that ran Australia ragged. Don't pick ramps and still lose then you go down as the side with egg all over their faces. Good Luck to you guys. By the way i am a WI.

  • Woody111 on August 13, 2009, 7:20 GMT

    No swing for their bowlers or short wide rubbish to their openers and gee what a surprise, England look crap! Make all the changes you want, Bell is still rubbish, Bopara isn't facing the West Indies on flat roads, Cook can't come forward and Collingwood takes 2 days to make a 50. We'll be taking home the Ashes thanks. Get Simon Jones back.

  • Itchy on August 13, 2009, 3:27 GMT

    I love this! Work your way into a lather about team changes and consider two guys who have not played at the top level for years! Mike Hussey hasn't had such a good series - maybe Australia should replace him with.......I don't know.......Boonie! Prior to this series Australia got thrashed in their last Test against SA - what wholesale changes were made? None and with good reason.

    You pick a squad of players at the start of the series and select a team from that squad, backing them to perform. Otherwise you send the wrong message to all players and they worry more about their performance than that of the team.

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

    How can de Lisle make such inane comments about Siddle. He was a major factor in Australia beating a better team than England - Sth Africa. His bowling average is better than the present English fast bowlers who have played more tests than him (except Sidebottom), his strike rate is better than all of them, as his economy rate ( again except Sidebottom). And what does it say about the players England choose to put in a test team if a bowler who is not of Test Standard takes 5 for 21!!!!

  • Rooboy on August 13, 2009, 2:33 GMT

    This guy and some of his writing is just laughable. It was an awesome effort by Australia to beat the number 2 ranked test team, away from home, with a county attack, but obviously it wasn't until they tamed the mighty english line up that they could be considered test standard. That is hilarious but I get the impression the writer was being serious, which is just sad. Let's not forget that if not for rain, it would be 2-1 and a lot of drivel such as this article contained wouldn't even be being written. Bad news pommy fans - things are a lot different now that Australia is picking close to it's best team, everyone in the team is finally playing to over 50% of their potential, and the free ride england got from Rudi and Doctrove is over. Can't wait to read how the 'journalists' who were ridiculing Australia less than 2 weeks ago respond to that!

  • bustermove on August 13, 2009, 1:57 GMT

    I agree with Boonidge about your Siddle comments. The fact that Siddle is a "plain Jane" who just runs flat out and tries to hit the stumps (or the batsman) may make him "still below test standard" in your eyes Tim but to my eyes he possesses one characteristic which places him in the pecking order above all the present English bowlers bar Flintoff, that is sheer bloody-minded determination. Witness Anderson's demeanor when the ball won't swing or Harmison's when he gets spanked for four and you'll see what I'm talking about. Heart is very hard to beat in my book.

  • Longmemory on August 12, 2009, 23:23 GMT

    Astonishing! Only in England! When you recalled Close in his mid-40s and Cowdrey around the same age, at least they had a Test record to be proud of. Now you want to recall a 39 year old who played 52 Tests (the same as Bradman if I am not mistaken) and ended with an average in the low 20s and two centuries in all that time. And what's his main claim? He's been feasting on county bowlers the best of whom cannot seem to bowl out any Test side in the world twice in a match. Selecting Ramps will prove that no matter what changes, England's selections remain as bafflingly obtuse as ever.

  • scritty on August 12, 2009, 23:18 GMT

    Would all the "anti-Ramprakash" people answer one question. Are you against him because of his age ? If so you are wrong, your thinking is wrong and your mind set is wrong. This "youth is good age is bad"ideology has no place anywhare, be it sport, the workplace or in the home. Ramprakash is far far away the best English qualified player playing cricket today. I would say more so than a fit Kevin Pietersen (who has a county average roughlt half that of Ramprakash for the last 5 years) Ramprakash is playing NOW against the same opposition that was a good enough testing arena for Show Pony Bopara and Little Boy Lost Bell ie domestic FC cricket, and he is outperforming them,..not just by a little bit, but by an amount that frankly beggars belief If you are 40+ sitting at home and think"yeah well why not pick me" then ask yourself "Can I average 100 season after season in FC cricket ? If the answer is no, then shut up and stop whining, your arguements are ageist claptrap.

  • cookie2211 on August 12, 2009, 21:28 GMT

    Unfortunately i have to agree with the team which you have chosen. Desperate times call for desperate measures and i believe the situation has become so. I have never been a fan of Bell because he has never really shown that he really wants to do well, it's as if he is cruising through (outside opinion) and this applies to Harmison who is the most overated bowler ever. Utterly lacking in heart i feel. Ramps is the romantic choice as well as the sensible one due to his prolific runs scoring and Key is solid. I would be almost inclined to drop Broad and have sidebottom and onions for added bowling depth as we need to bowl Australia out twice but maybe a little harsh. Whoever the selectors choose, I can't wait to silence the smug Aussies!

  • Brownout on August 12, 2009, 18:02 GMT

    @ crazytaurean

    Bringing up Ramprakash would not be like bringing in Lara... Lara has retired from international cricket, so yes recalling him would be silly. However Ramprakash is available and has not retired. The Lara recall analogy would be more similar to bringing in Trescothick.

  • Stevo_ on August 12, 2009, 17:37 GMT

    "only Peter Siddle is still below Test standard."

    Siddle has the most test wickets for any bowler in 2009 @ 36 wickets, not only that his average is 23.75 and his economy is 2.84.

    Flintoff who you call a test bowler has 12 @ 40 and Anderson 32 @ 31 . Onions is the only English bowler to avg under 30

    You really should think before you type Tim.

  • richardk on August 12, 2009, 12:30 GMT

    Key would be a sensible choice, Ramps is an obvious one in this situation. Trescothick would be a great addition, but maybe that ship has permanently sailed?! Bopara clearly needs to make a step to the next level, and these Aussies are exposing his inadequacies.

    Never been keen on Key, but, with more experience, maybe he'd clearly be a stouter choice as you say, than poor old Bell. Some players just are doomed to never quite make it... Harmy surely has to go, he's had countless chances and never steps up, Sidey seems the obvious choice.

    Broad is still a great hope for the future, as a bowler who bats well at 8, I reckon we should stick with him if we have 5 bowlers at our disposal.

    Flintoff has to play this game, I can't imagine a pack of wild hounds and elephants and rhinos would stop him being in that changing room on day 1. Even a 80-90% fit Freddie is still a big threat with bat and ball.

    So in short, I agree with your team!

  • crazytaurean on August 12, 2009, 12:20 GMT

    So many words being spoken, and so much seems to have changed after just 1 test match. Feel sad for Ian Bell and Bopara who deserved to be retained. I also believe that Flintoff brings in more than just some muscle to the middle order. He should be preferred over the likes of Jonathon Trott.

    Dont even think of Ramps. Its just plain stupid. Or otherwise the next time people will clammer for Brian Lara to come out of retirement to save the fledgling Windies !!!

    Australia is very much a beatable side and with the likes of Jimmy Anderson, Onions, Sidebottom, Swann & Flintoff and hopefully a little bit of luck England should triumph and the Barmy Army would get louder !! Hail England ..

  • Normans_Conquest on August 12, 2009, 11:58 GMT

    Forgetting the line up for a moment, may as well stick any 15 names in hat and pull them out in any order... what has been done about the incredibibly poor bowling by England at Headingly ? Surely the plan wasn't to bowl short, so why did they start that way and then the true crime, why did they persist ? Poor captaincy or poor management or just poor bowling ? My personal opinion is that Strauss is not quite upto the job yet, he will get better i am sure, but he aint there yet !

  • NickHughes on August 12, 2009, 9:32 GMT

    Tim DeLisle's championing of Ramprakash's cause omits a number of telling points as to why Ramps should NOT be chosen. For instance, that 133 against Australia (and how long ago was that?) wasn't the last time he played for England...he made more appearances after that and none of them displayed that flourish or determination needed at test level. That century did not propel him to bigger things even though he was encouraged by Duncan Fletcher and given an extended run in the side. And we mustn't forget that he flags when under pressure and I point to him getting stuck on 99 first class centuries and made a few outbursts in frustration at the time. No, Ramps is not the answer. Drop Bell, bring in Key at #3, drop Bopara down to 4 or 5. Play Flintoff at 6 and if he can bowl, bonus. Bowling; pick from Anderson, Onions, Sidebottom, Swann, Panesar, Broad because that's the best England have right now.

  • jackiethepen on August 12, 2009, 9:27 GMT

    Do you call this analysis? No wonder there are some crazy notions going the rounds? I suppose it hasn't occurred to you that it was the wrong decision to bat first at Headingley? And a very different story might have emerged if our bowlers had made use of that bowler friendly pitch (bounce) and muggy conditions (swing). Anderson would have been fit (he got injured batting) and Harmison raring to go, backed by by Onions, Broad and Swan. It could have been the sorry story of Australia's first innings. We could have torn through them like we did at Lords. It was obvious that the batsmen were struggling in the conditions. So called timid Bell got a snorter to the throat. Not much he could have done about it - all the commentators agreed!! In the second innings Bell was playing for Johnson's vicious in-swing and the ball swung the other way. Nice! And caught the edge. Maybe it was lucky for the bowler or he really is a demon bowler. When wickets tumble at Headingley don't be surprised!!

  • Josh88 on August 12, 2009, 9:27 GMT

    Tim,

    Please resist from being so 'reactionary'. Sometimes you make statements where Im not sure how you could possibly have come to that conclusion.

    "The Aussies now know they can win in England" - I think the Aussies have known that for 130 years, and the first 3 tests were a pretty even contest.

    "Australia have a test attack" You claim that the 'test attack' is most supported by Clark and Johnson, but Hilfy and Siddle have been the two best bowlers of the series. To liken Australia's test attack to that of a county in the first 3 tests is ridiculous, they have taken far more wickets than England so far and almost took the required 20 in the first test.

    "Flintoff is worth picking as a batsman" No he isnt. He is a great player because he is a great bowler. Bowlers win test matches and Flintoff has a great record as a bowler against Australia. His 74 in Edgbaston is not that significant, its his wicket taking ability and presence on the field.

  • JB77 on August 12, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    "These Aussies now know they can win in England". You're kidding right? Yes this team have a lot of blokes who've never played in England before, but I doubt very much that they've even been under the impression that winning in England is impossible. Not when they've seen Australia dominate there for the best part of 20 years and not after dominating the First Test.

  • vrghosh on August 12, 2009, 8:24 GMT

    Wisden Cricketer of 2007 knows the English condition very well as he last played for England in the year 2002 vs New Zealand . Once again bidding for Ramps means a lot for his longing love of the game... as no one in the current side except Farewell Boy Circus with whom he last appeared in 2002. Its high time for ECB too .. to refocus on strategies of team selection . My best 11 for final test are.... Cook, Strauss, Bell, Collingwood, Ramps, Flintoff, Prior, Anderson, Onion, Broad n Swan.... For Ramps its high time... Graeme Hick must be a satisfied man with this classy inclusion for the final test.. Spinners must have an upper hand here, as the grace of Laker and Warne are still there with an articulate Bothamism... Fredie must take a note from it for an ever happening Fairwell.... Go England ... Go Once again... Touch the Ashes... Once again... Go England .... Go Once again....

  • NeilCameron on August 12, 2009, 7:41 GMT

    You know it would be really nice for Ramps to be recalled for one test, have him score a huge century and win the Ashes for England. Then again, there's also the equal possibility that he'll fail in both innings as well!

  • Boonidge on August 12, 2009, 7:26 GMT

    Siddle is not up to test standard...? Siddle has taken the most test wickets of any test player during 2009 at a strike rate of a wicket per 50 balls.

    If Siddle is not up to 'test standard', God help the bowlers of the world.

  • JustinF on August 12, 2009, 7:20 GMT

    I do hope that England select Ramprakash. It would make for a great sporting story. Just think, they could make a movie out of it. A washed up Test International who promised so much, had terrible psychological problems aganst top class bolwing and is now outscoring batsman in the lower divisions of county cricket, gets called up for one more chance at redemption against the best team in the world. Just imagine Ramprakash scores a match winning century !! His name will be up there with the greats.

  • Chris_Howard on August 12, 2009, 6:58 GMT

    A tip for England: Bowl at Watson's stumps. If they think Hughes is vulnerable to the short ball, they should check Watson's stats on the ball at the stumps! 11 out of 16 innings in Tests he's been out bowled or lbw, including twice of three in this series. Furthermore, of the 5 other dismissals (all caught), 4 were caught by the wicket keeper (including one in this series). This does not suggest the technique required to be an opener.

  • PaddyBriggs on August 12, 2009, 6:46 GMT

    Confidence is cumulative - so is depression. At Lord's England's confidence tangibly grew as the match moved on. Australia's was battered by the First Innings poor showing but they somehow restored a lot of self-belief and pride by scoring over 400 in a losing cause in their second knock. England's confidence wavered just a little when Aus reached 313-5 overnight but Fred's assault on the last morning got them back on track. At Headingley the Australian confidence levels were high at the start after their fine match-saving batting at Edgbaston on the final day - a match that England could and maybe should have won. England was a bit down after Edgbaston and then hit by silly events on the morning of the Headingley match. From the start they were onto a loser, conversely Australia was onto a winner. Who are the players who will give England a chance to restore some confidence at The Oval? Why not the team which won so well at Lord's with just one change - Bell for Pietersen?

  • Chris_Howard on August 12, 2009, 6:43 GMT

    Not a bad team, only change I'd make is Onions for Broad. Even though he earned his spot, I wouldn't play Broad. No team can afford two all-rounders. Either replace him with a proper bowler or a proper batsman. I'd go the bowler since you have to get 20 wickets, which in your line up would mean dropping him for Onions.

  • fakhy on August 12, 2009, 5:11 GMT

    i dont think too many changes should be made to the team. i personally think bell and bopara should be dropped, but why change the bowling line-up, who even though havent done exceptionally well in the last game, were not too bad as well. tinkering too much in the line-up might prove to be too risky. Flintoff obviously will come in for either bell or bopara, and the other should be dropped. the romantic would want ramps in, but this is just banking on the hope that he would do well. the selectors must think long and hard as to who would be perfect to fill the gap. all the best to england

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  • fakhy on August 12, 2009, 5:11 GMT

    i dont think too many changes should be made to the team. i personally think bell and bopara should be dropped, but why change the bowling line-up, who even though havent done exceptionally well in the last game, were not too bad as well. tinkering too much in the line-up might prove to be too risky. Flintoff obviously will come in for either bell or bopara, and the other should be dropped. the romantic would want ramps in, but this is just banking on the hope that he would do well. the selectors must think long and hard as to who would be perfect to fill the gap. all the best to england

  • Chris_Howard on August 12, 2009, 6:43 GMT

    Not a bad team, only change I'd make is Onions for Broad. Even though he earned his spot, I wouldn't play Broad. No team can afford two all-rounders. Either replace him with a proper bowler or a proper batsman. I'd go the bowler since you have to get 20 wickets, which in your line up would mean dropping him for Onions.

  • PaddyBriggs on August 12, 2009, 6:46 GMT

    Confidence is cumulative - so is depression. At Lord's England's confidence tangibly grew as the match moved on. Australia's was battered by the First Innings poor showing but they somehow restored a lot of self-belief and pride by scoring over 400 in a losing cause in their second knock. England's confidence wavered just a little when Aus reached 313-5 overnight but Fred's assault on the last morning got them back on track. At Headingley the Australian confidence levels were high at the start after their fine match-saving batting at Edgbaston on the final day - a match that England could and maybe should have won. England was a bit down after Edgbaston and then hit by silly events on the morning of the Headingley match. From the start they were onto a loser, conversely Australia was onto a winner. Who are the players who will give England a chance to restore some confidence at The Oval? Why not the team which won so well at Lord's with just one change - Bell for Pietersen?

  • Chris_Howard on August 12, 2009, 6:58 GMT

    A tip for England: Bowl at Watson's stumps. If they think Hughes is vulnerable to the short ball, they should check Watson's stats on the ball at the stumps! 11 out of 16 innings in Tests he's been out bowled or lbw, including twice of three in this series. Furthermore, of the 5 other dismissals (all caught), 4 were caught by the wicket keeper (including one in this series). This does not suggest the technique required to be an opener.

  • JustinF on August 12, 2009, 7:20 GMT

    I do hope that England select Ramprakash. It would make for a great sporting story. Just think, they could make a movie out of it. A washed up Test International who promised so much, had terrible psychological problems aganst top class bolwing and is now outscoring batsman in the lower divisions of county cricket, gets called up for one more chance at redemption against the best team in the world. Just imagine Ramprakash scores a match winning century !! His name will be up there with the greats.

  • Boonidge on August 12, 2009, 7:26 GMT

    Siddle is not up to test standard...? Siddle has taken the most test wickets of any test player during 2009 at a strike rate of a wicket per 50 balls.

    If Siddle is not up to 'test standard', God help the bowlers of the world.

  • NeilCameron on August 12, 2009, 7:41 GMT

    You know it would be really nice for Ramps to be recalled for one test, have him score a huge century and win the Ashes for England. Then again, there's also the equal possibility that he'll fail in both innings as well!

  • vrghosh on August 12, 2009, 8:24 GMT

    Wisden Cricketer of 2007 knows the English condition very well as he last played for England in the year 2002 vs New Zealand . Once again bidding for Ramps means a lot for his longing love of the game... as no one in the current side except Farewell Boy Circus with whom he last appeared in 2002. Its high time for ECB too .. to refocus on strategies of team selection . My best 11 for final test are.... Cook, Strauss, Bell, Collingwood, Ramps, Flintoff, Prior, Anderson, Onion, Broad n Swan.... For Ramps its high time... Graeme Hick must be a satisfied man with this classy inclusion for the final test.. Spinners must have an upper hand here, as the grace of Laker and Warne are still there with an articulate Bothamism... Fredie must take a note from it for an ever happening Fairwell.... Go England ... Go Once again... Touch the Ashes... Once again... Go England .... Go Once again....

  • JB77 on August 12, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    "These Aussies now know they can win in England". You're kidding right? Yes this team have a lot of blokes who've never played in England before, but I doubt very much that they've even been under the impression that winning in England is impossible. Not when they've seen Australia dominate there for the best part of 20 years and not after dominating the First Test.

  • Josh88 on August 12, 2009, 9:27 GMT

    Tim,

    Please resist from being so 'reactionary'. Sometimes you make statements where Im not sure how you could possibly have come to that conclusion.

    "The Aussies now know they can win in England" - I think the Aussies have known that for 130 years, and the first 3 tests were a pretty even contest.

    "Australia have a test attack" You claim that the 'test attack' is most supported by Clark and Johnson, but Hilfy and Siddle have been the two best bowlers of the series. To liken Australia's test attack to that of a county in the first 3 tests is ridiculous, they have taken far more wickets than England so far and almost took the required 20 in the first test.

    "Flintoff is worth picking as a batsman" No he isnt. He is a great player because he is a great bowler. Bowlers win test matches and Flintoff has a great record as a bowler against Australia. His 74 in Edgbaston is not that significant, its his wicket taking ability and presence on the field.