BCA President's XI v England XI, Barbados February 22, 2009

England reserves keen to impress


Ravi Bopara may feature in the match if he arrives from New Zealand on time © Getty Images
 

England's two-day game against a Barbados Cricket Association President's XI on Sunday has taken on added significance with the news that Andrew Flintoff will miss the fourth Test. The tourists will give their reserves a run-out at Windward Park and there is now a spot up for grabs next week.

Ravi Bopara and Amjad Khan, two very jet-lagged players, could yet feature in the match if they arrive from New Zealand on time. They would have less than 24 hours to prepare, but the difficulty in replacing Flintoff means all options need to be explored.

Bopara would be a straight swap for Flintoff at No. 6 - the position where he played his three Tests against Sri Lanka in 2007-08 - but his bowling is nowhere near as penetrative and has rarely been used in one-day internationals. England could decided they need another fast bowler to replace Flintoff's wickets so Amjad would come into the mix as Ryan Sidebottom has lingering fitness issues over his Achilles.

Coupled with Flintoff's withdrawal due to his hip strain, Graeme Swann picked up an elbow problem during the third Test. He won't play the two-day fixture and could yet struggle to make the Test, which would be a huge blow after his eight wickets at the ARG.

In his absence, Monty Panesar is likely to get the chance to find some form, while Adil Rashid may earn his second outing of the tour after spending most lunch breaks on the outfield with the spin coach Mushtaq Ahmed.

This is also an important game for Tim Ambrose, who needs to be ready to step into Matt Prior's shoes. Prior is scheduled to fly home on March 2, straight after the fourth Test, for the birth of his child but could leave early if his wife, Emily, goes into labour before the Barbados match begins.

Apart from a stint with the gloves in the opening tour match, Ambrose has only had net practice since arriving in West Indies so needs to make the most of a chance of some time in the middle. England will wait until the morning to name their side, but it has been confirmed that Andrew Strauss will captain the team.

Possible XI Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Owais Shah, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Tim Ambrose (wk), Adil Rashid, Ryan Sidebottom, Amjad Khan, Monty Panesar

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo