Angus Fraser: England ready to ring changes by dropping Bell

Paul Collingwood is the player set to benefit from Bell's omission but he, along with the remaining England batsmen - bar Marcus Trescothick - can hardly say they are in top form after two poor batting displays against the Patron's XI this week. Collingwood has long been a favourite of Vaughan and Fletcher, and the fact that the all-rounder batted ahead of Bell in Rawalpindi suggests that England are seriously considering playing him in Multan in a week's time.

But dropping Bell, and making a further change to England's Ashes-winning side, would seem a tad harsh. There is nothing the selectors could have done about the injury which forced Simon Jones to withdraw from the tour, but the 10 other players who helped create those wonderful scenes at the end of the summer deserve the chance to play in England's next Test. This is not sentimental claptrap. England won as a team, and it is the team who should be rewarded.

When Bell posted half-centuries against Australia in each innings of the Old Trafford Test, it looked as though he had cracked it but he did little to further his cause in the final two matches of the series. In four innings at Trent Bridge and the Oval he scored just six runs and finished the series with a modest batting average of 17.1. He also spent only 20 minutes at the crease in Rawalpindi, where he collected just three runs.

Bell is naturally quiet and he appears to go even further into his shell when things are not going his way. This has not gone unnoticed and he will need to maintain a good work ethic if he is to continue to impress Fletcher. But Bell is only 23 and he remains one of the most talented young players in the country. England rated him so highly that they picked him ahead of Graham Thorpe against Australia and they should back that judgement now.

England will welcome back Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmison who, after playing in October's Australia versus the Rest of the World fiasco, were allowed to spend an extra week at home. Vaughan would have been pleased to watch his two most influential bowlers perform well in Sydney but conditions here are set to be far different from those they encountered Down Under.

Flintoff and Harmison have not bowled in the past fortnight and will need to adapt quickly if they are to please their captain next Saturday. Bowling fast in Pakistan is not an enjoyable occupation.

Pakistan is not a destination England and Australia have visited regularly since they began playing Test cricket in 1955, but only 10 bowlers for either side have taken more than 10 wickets in a series. For England, only two of these bowlers - Neil Foster and Darren Gough - were of the fastish variety, whereas Australia's leg-spinners - Shane Warne, Richie Benaud and Stuart MacGill - are the best performing slow bowlers, with Glenn McGrath's 19 wickets costing 31 runs a piece.

Yet McGrath's figures are respectable compared to those of two of his heroes. Dennis Lillee's three wickets here cost him more than 100 runs each and Richard Hadlee's came at 44, more than double his career average.

Andrew Caddick was pulverised on England's 2000 tour of Pakistan but Flintoff and Harmison can take encouragement from the great West Indian fast bowlers of the last 25 years. Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Joel Garner and Ian Bishop, bowlers with similar attributes to the England pair, all took wickets here.

"This will be a different tour to others I have been on and I may have to modify my bowling," admitted Harmison. "There may be times when I have to do a containing job, and keep the pressure on for Ashley Giles, Shaun Udal or whoever is bowling at the other end.

"Our tactics will depend on the wickets we play on but we believe that we have the bowlers who can adapt to whatever is put in front of us."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?