Collingwood is odd one out as Flintoff provides power of five

It was at 3pm yesterday that the need to get Andrew Flintoff back in the England team became apparent to captain Michael Vaughan. England had had an excellent morning reducing South Africa to 83 for 4. Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson and Stuart Broad had all performed well, picking up a wicket each and bowling with far greater skill and intelligence than their much-vaunted South African counterparts.

But the triumvirate were beginning to tire and the ball was losing its hardness, making it difficult for fast bowlers to force the issue on a true pitch. Ashwell Prince and AB de Villiers were capitalising on the situation, leading South Africa's temporary revival.

At this moment Vaughan would have wanted to ram home the advantage his side had created, but to achieve this goal he needed a fourth seamer; a strong, fresh body to back up the good work of Sidebottom, Anderson and Broad. But the only option he had was Paul Collingwood. The Durham medium-pacer bowled four steady overs, conceding just three runs, but batting had suddenly become a far more comfortable proposition.

There are many who feel that a bowler should make way for Flintoff in Friday's second Test at Headingley. The belief is that an extra specialist batsman is required against a good bowling attack, which South Africa still possess despite their first-innings display here.

It is not a view I hold. When a team contains a couple of crackerjack bowlers, as the Australian side of the last decade did in Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, it can get away with playing just four bowlers. Warne and McGrath wanted to bowl for an hour and a quarter in each session and they were rarely, if ever, a liability. They gave their captain wickets and control. In such a team the fifth bowler would often bowl no more than 10 overs per day, a workload that could be placed on a Collingwood-type bowler.

But in a team containing three good but not yet exceptional seamers, as this England side does, variety and fresh legs are required. Most bowlers prefer playing in a four-man attack because they know they will get a regular bowl. When five are picked there are sessions when the ball never comes your way. At times like this you wonder why the selectors picked you.

Vaughan is a captain that enjoys having five bowlers. In the 2005 Ashes he had that number, and it allows him to tinker to his heart's content. He can walk up to a fast bowler and tell him he has got only a four-over spell and that he wants him to run in hard and bowl fast, a luxury four bowlers does not allow.

So who will make way? Unfortunately it has to be Collingwood. It is a tough call on a player who continues to give so much, more so given the poor umpiring decision that caused his dismissal on Friday.

But you wonder whether the selectors were preparing Collingwood for a fall on July 3 when they failed to confirm him as one-day captain for September's Champions Trophy in Pakistan. The selectors obviously have doubts over his ability to lead and being dropped from the Test side has the potential to reduce his standing further among the one-day side.

The batting of Broad, who scored a fine 76 in England's first innings, will make the selectors feel more comfortable about dropping a specialist batsman but the pressure on Tim Ambrose will continue to increase if he fails to perform with the bat. In the same way that Flintoff's shadow has loomed over Collingwood, the name of Matt Prior hovers over Ambrose.

Monty Panesar filled the void superbly yesterday, but he cannot be expected to do it all the time.

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
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

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all