Angus Fraser: Trescothick to drop into the hole left by Hussain

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The Independent Online

The recently retired Nasser Hussain is not the only member of England's batting line-up to come under pressure following Andrew Strauss' exceptional performance in the first Test. The Middlesex captain's 195 runs against New Zealand have also put Michael Vaughan - assuming he passes a fitness test on his right knee when he plays for Yorkshire on Monday - Marcus Trescothick and the England selectors in an awkward position.

The recently retired Nasser Hussain is not the only member of England's batting line-up to come under pressure following Andrew Strauss' exceptional performance in the first Test. The Middlesex captain's 195 runs against New Zealand have also put Michael Vaughan - assuming he passes a fitness test on his right knee when he plays for Yorkshire on Monday - Marcus Trescothick and the England selectors in an awkward position.

Trescothick and Vaughan have been England's first-choice opening pair for the past two-and-a-half years and during this period they have enjoyed intermittent periods of success. The pair have put on more than 100 for England on five occasions but recently they have failed to provide their side with the required starts. Following Strauss' remarkable debut their positions must be reviewed.

Strauss proved at Lord's that he possesses all the hallmarks of a quality opening batsman. He is patient, watchful and has a tight technique and it would be foolish to drop him into Hussain's old position at four. Either Trescothick or Vaughan could make it easy for the selectors by volunteering for this vacant spot but if neither comes forward, one of them has to be told to make way for the man in form.

Vaughan would be more philosophical about the situation, because he is the England captain and this move would not be a signal that he was on the way out. The Lancastrian started his international career down the order and it was he who was promoted to join Trescothick when England arrived in New Zealand in 2002.

Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, is keen for Vaughan to move to four. Fletcher is concerned that the 29-year-old has too much to cope with at the moment and that a position in England's middle-order would allow him to wind down and think about his batting before he is thrust into the action. Fletcher will not tell his captain to do this but is waiting for Vaughan to approach him with the idea.

Vaughan's form has suffered since he became captain 10 months ago but he gradually seems to be coming to terms with the pressure which comes with combining these two roles. As an opener he still averages 49.70, which compares favourably to that of 26.25 when he bats at four, and I would like to see him stay where he is. This would mean dropping Trescothick into the vacant hole even though he is yet to bat in this position for England.

Before retiring to a career behind a microphone at Sky, Hussain mentioned the names of four players that the selectors should have a close look at. Rob Key, Ian Bell, Ian Ward and Scott Newman have all had excellent starts to the 2004 season and the merits of each will be discussed by David Graveney and company over the weekend.

Yet it is unlikely that any of these will be named in the 13-man squad announced on Sunday morning. Paul Collingwood, armed with a central contract, is expected to win the final batting slot even though this would be the ideal time to recall Key. The Kent opener has been in brilliant form and yesterday posted a career-best score of 199. It was his fifth hundred of the summer.

Before Hussain said goodbye, it was felt that Ashley Giles would be excluded from the final XI at Headingley in order to accommodate the extra batsman. But this no longer appears to be the case. Graveney, the chairman of selectors, was keen to stress that spin and not just seam is taking wickets in Leeds.

This was true in one match but a closer inspection reveals that it was the leg-spin of Stuart MacGill and not the orthodox off-spin of Yorkshire's Richard Dawson which had an impact. Giles will travel to Leeds but the wet weather which has been forecast could seal his fate and give Collingwood a chance to prove his worth.

At Lord's England's seamers continued their good form of the winter and were superb. Led by Stephen Harmison, they bowled with patience and intelligence and worked their way through New Zealand's long and competitive batting line-up. In the Black Caps' second innings Simon Jones was outstanding. His selection ahead of James Anderson surprised some but his bowling justified the decision of the selectors and he can expect to keep his place in the side.

Andrew Caddick has bowled hundreds of overs for Somerset already this season and shown he has recovered from the back problem which kept him out for most of last summer. The paceman has taken plenty of wickets but England would be wrong to select him ahead of Anderson.

Caddick should only be picked for England again if there is an emergency. Anderson is the future and he should be named in the squad for Headingley. If he has no chance of playing, the Lancashire seamer should be released on Tuesday evening so that he can play for his county at Tunbridge Wells on Wednesday. He needs to bowl.

ENGLAND XIII (probable): M P Vaughan (capt), A J Strauss, M A Butcher, M E Trescothick, G P Thorpe, A Flintoff, P D Collingwood, G O Jones (wkt), A F Giles, S P Jones, S J Harmison, M J Hoggard, J M Anderson.

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