The England selectors sprung a surprise today with the inclusion of uncapped Warwickshire batsman Jonathon Trott, there was also a recall for left arm swing bowler Ryan Sidebottom in England’s 14 man squad. As expected Monty Panesar has been left out as there is no chance of England needing two spinners at Headingley.
The inclusion of Trott means that the selectors are considering playing a six man batting line up if Flintoff dosen’t make it as it would seem very unlikely that they would play the six batsmen and Flintoff as part of a four man attack with his fitness worries. National selector Geoff Miller confirmed that Trott is in the squad as a possible 6th batsman as opposed to batting cover like Ian Bell was earlier in the summer.
The inclusion of Sidebottom also calls into doubt the position of Stuart Broad in the side, Broad has managed just six wickets at well over 50 each so far in this series and has looked totally inadequate against the Aussie batting line-up – ironically he produced his best performance so far in his final spell at Edgbaston. If the selectors continue to pick him it can only be seen as a negative move as they would be picking a bowler mainly for his batting.
Steve Harmison is again retained but it would appear to be only in case they want to go like-for-like if Flintoff dosen’t make it, in picking Sidebottom it seems that the selectors are going to keep a close eye on the weather and if it looks like rainy conditions then Sidebottom’s swing under the Headingley clouds will almost certainly come into play.
Jonathon Trott gets his chance after an impressive season with Warwickshire, the right handed batsman is averaging over 90 in 1st class cricket this season with four centuries so far. In picking him the selectors have again shown that they are prepared to go outside the – what would appear to be – cosy group of players they have established, Rob Key must have privately accepted by now that he has no future under this regime.
The continued failings of Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara must be causing some concern by now, they hang on to their places still as the batsmen normally do these days – surely there is only so long they can continue to back them both in this form though.
Squad in Full – Andrew Strauss (C), Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior (WK), Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Graham Onions, Steve Harmison, Ryan Sidebottom, Jonathan Trott.
Draw is 11/8 favourite at Blue Square and 888Sport
Australia are 7/4 with Ladbrokes and William Hill
England are 10/3 with VC Bet