Anderson quick to fill Flintoff's big boots

Andrew Flintoff's persistent ankle injury will have been the cause of much discussion when England's selectors met last night in Birmingham to pick their squad for Thursday's first Test against the West Indies. During the recent NatWest one-day series England found it impossible to replace the Lancashire all-rounder and the prospect of him being unable to bowl for five days at Lord's is sure to have caused further angst.

Andrew Flintoff's persistent ankle injury will have been the cause of much discussion when England's selectors met last night in Birmingham to pick their squad for Thursday's first Test against the West Indies. During the recent NatWest one-day series England found it impossible to replace the Lancashire all-rounder and the prospect of him being unable to bowl for five days at Lord's is sure to have caused further angst.

Flintoff's formidable form with the bat will ensure he is named in the squad tomorrow, even though the 26-year-old would not be fit enough to bowl in a Test should it start today. Since doctors found a bone spur growth close to the Achilles tendon on his left foot, Flintoff has sent down just 17 deliveries. These were bowled for Lancashire in Wednesday's Twenty20 match against Yorkshire at Headingley, but his absence from the attack on Thursday suggests all is not well.

Mark Butcher is England's only other fitness worry. The Surrey opener strained his left thigh while playing a one-day game for his county, but the selectors expect their No 3 to have recovered in time. Initially England wanted Butcher to prove his fitness by playing for Surrey in tomorrow's Totesport League match at Canterbury, but the selectors are now happy for him to do so when he meets up with the squad at Lord's on Tuesday.

Selecting 13 names for this Test is a relatively simple task but Flintoff's fitness will ultimately affect which 11 walk out on Thursday morning. Flintoff is such an influential cricketer that England will play him even if he cannot bowl. And quite right too: "Freddie" has averaged over 50 with the bat for England in three of their last four series. Robert Key can expect to be named in the squad as cover, but Butcher's fitness is the only avenue through which he may get a chance.

It is Flintoff's inability to bowl which messes up England's plans. Michael Vaughan would be hoping to field the same attack - Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Simon Jones, Ashley Giles and Flintoff - which wreaked havoc in the Caribbean earlier this year, but without his star all-rounder's bowling he will have to adapt.

England will be reluctant to drop a batsman for a fifth bowler and the top seven will remain the same as that which defeated New Zealand at Trent Bridge five weeks ago.

The challenge for the selectors is picking the correct four bowlers for the first Test. When situations like this arise, overhead conditions need to be taken into consideration before decisions are made.

Giles had a wonderful Nottingham Test. Warwickshire's left-arm spinner took 6 for 116 and scored 81 unbeaten runs in the match, but he may have to make way for a fourth seamer should the weather in London remain inclement.

If Giles were omitted, James Anderson would be his likely replacement. The Lancashire seamer sat, frustrated, in the stands while England walloped the West Indies 3-0 in March and April. The 21-year-old was also overlooked when Jones picked up an injury in the first Test of the summer. In the remaining two matches Martin Saggers played, but the Kent swing-bowler only picked up two wickets.

It is likely that Anderson will play this time, even if England decide to pick Giles as part of a four-man attack. Jones has played very little cricket since he was given the all-clear and the overs he has bowled have not been particularly impressive. The Welshman conceded more than four runs an over playing for the MCC against the West Indians at Arundel this week.

The nature of Jones' bowling - fast and raw - means there is always the chance that he will leak too many runs, but with Flintoff and Harmison in the side it is a risk worth taking. But lose one of the bankers and Jones becomes an option the selectors may well choose to save for later in the series.

There was better news at the other end in Sussex. A fortnight ago there were fears that a knee injury would keep Hoggard out of the first Test but, after taking 8 for 90 against Brian Lara's side, the Yorkshireman looks ready for action.

During the next four Test matches it is important that England's other fast bowlers give Harmison quality support. The Durham paceman has been the difference between England and their opponents in the last two series, but Vaughan cannot keep on using him as he is.

Against New Zealand Harmison averaged 53 overs per Test, a workload that will break his body before too long. Vaughan has been forced to throw the ball his way so often because England's other seamers have not looked like winning the game for their side.

England's Test players will have enjoyed the one-day section of the season, but they must adapt quickly to the greater demands of five-day cricket. Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Strauss, Flintoff and Geraint Jones have not had a first-class innings since the last Test against New Zealand. The West Indians will have had four.

Four to the fore the men who missed the one-day debacle

Mark Butcher England's No 3 learned his trade as an opener for Surrey and this has prepared him well for his role in the national side. Offers calmness and class to England's batting and since scoring 173 not out against Australia in 2000 he has scored 2,741 runs at an average of 42.83.

Graham Thorpe India's VVS Laxman may be the best No 5 in Test cricket but Thorpe is not far behind. It is comforting for England to see the Surrey left-hander walk to the crease. He brings the same qualities to the team as Butcher and since sorting out his private life he has scored 954 runs at 59.63.

Simon Jones But for a foot injury the Glamorgan paceman would have played in the NatWest series. Injuries are preventing the 25-year-old from developing as quickly as England want and he remains raw, but talented. Can be expensive but has real pace, which England prize.

Matthew Hoggard This is an important series for the Yorkshire seamer, who needs to offer greater consistency and support for Stephen Harmison. Against New Zealand his nine wickets cost 43 runs each and a similar performance over the coming weeks would see his place put under real pressure.

Suggested Topics
News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits