As expected Ravi Bopara has been left out of the 14 man squad selected for the final test starting at The Oval on Thursday. His place goes to Warwickshire’s in form Jonathan Trott, Trott’s inclusion comes as no surprise as he was withdrawn from the England Lions match against Australia at Canterbury starting on Saturday in an attempt to keep him under wraps for Thursday.
The selectors have stubbornly refused to make wholesale changes and didn’t listen to all the so-called expert advice insisting they should pick Mark Ramprakash or Marcus Trescothick which would have smacked of panic stations.
Trott is in the form of his career at the moment and struck his fourth 1st class hundred of the season at Trent Bridge last week in front of the selectors, he is averaging over 80 so far this summer.
The fact though that the selectors have again overlooked picking a specialist to bat at No.3 is a bit of a surprise and a gamble. In moving Bell back up there they are just moving the problem onto someone else again. Bell has a low average of 31 batting at No.3 and it clearly hasn’t worked there for him in the past which is why you have to wonder why the selectors seem to think that he can do it any better this time.
With Steve Harmison and the inclusion of Monty Panesar and Ryan Sidebottom, the selectors have given themselves three different bowling options depending on how they feel the pitch and conditions will play on Thursday.
With Andrew Flintoff certain to play there will be at least one casualty in the bowling department as well. With England needing a win it would seem logical that they will keep Steve Harmison in hoping he can extract the extra bounce at The Oval and provide that match winning contribution we all know is in there somewhere.
It’s unlikely James Anderson will be dropped after a disasterous match at Headingley and Stuart Broad carried out that well known English trait of pulling a performance out of the hat when the axe was looming large.
That just leaves Graham Onions looking like the likely candidate, Onions will be unlucky to lose his place after a largely successful series to date, Headingley wasn’t great for him but he was no worse than anyone else there.