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
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn