Flintoff comeback delayed as England opt for stability

The sizeable shadow of Andrew Flintoff will hang large over the England dressing room during next week's first Test against South Africa. Flintoff was omitted from Lord's as England named an unchanged squad, a decision that will, fitness permitting, result in Michael Vaughan's side becoming the first Test team to field the same 11 players for six consecutive matches.

The run is unlikely to stretch to seven because the big man is expected to return for the second Test at Headingley on 18 July. It is a prospect that will be noted by several members of Vaughan's side. The most vulnerable are Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell, both of whom need a significant score at the home of cricket to avoid the axe. If the pair bat together the running between the wickets could be interesting.

Should England opt for four rather than five bowlers in Leeds James Anderson and Stuart Broad become potential casualties. Omitting either fast bowler would be harsh but England, as Geoff Miller, the chief selector, said at yesterday's announcement "are a better side with a fully fit Andrew Flintoff in it.

"We have had long chats with Andrew and are in constant communication with him," said Miller. "He knows exactly where we are at and that he needs to get a few more miles in his legs and few more runs with the bat. We need to see a little bit more from him, it's just a matter of him getting the miles in.

"International cricket is an intense game and we are looking for Andrew to be involved in Test, one-day and Twenty20 cricket. And because of that it is essential we monitor him properly, we want him to be involved for a long time. He has got a chance for the second Test and we will reassess the team during the first Test, but our focus is now on that match."

England's 30-man provisional squad for September's Champions Trophy in Pakistan, which was announced yesterday too, threw up a couple of intriguing issues. The first surrounds Collingwood, the current one-day captain. England maintain that Collingwood is their one-day leader moving forward but he is yet to be confirmed as captain for the tournament, a decision that suggests the selectors are not totally convinced he is the man to bring the team limited-overs success.

Collingwood's four-match ban for slow over rates will not have helped his cause, nor the controversial run out of New Zealand's Grant Elliott during last week's one-dayer at The Oval. A slow over rate implies indecision, a trait a captain can ill afford in the limited overs game.

The most welcome addition to the squad is Simon Jones, the forgotten man of England's Ashes triumph. Jones has not played for England since the Trent Bridge Test of 2005, and many feared the knee injury he sustained during a tour of India would end his career. Glamorgan, his team for 12 years, doubted him and a move to Worcestershire followed, but after more than 30 months of heartache he is back in the England set up.

"It is such a great feeling to be back," admitted Jones. "I've worked hard all winter and this season I've kept my head down and tried to bowl as well as I can. It is nice to know the selectors have noticed me. The last couple of years have been a bit of a write off and I wasn't quite ready last year. Physically I wasn't up to the demands of cricket.

"But this year I've felt strong. Physically I have felt brilliant and the ball has come out of the hand well, as it has shown in my performances. I have had four or five five-wicket hauls this season and I feel really upbeat about things."

It has not always been the case. There is nothing more depressing for a sportsman than a long term, career-threatening injury. "On your bad days you do think negatively sometimes, but the way this year's started and the new lease of life I've had at Worcester has really got me going and I feel I'm back near to where I was," Jones added. "My lowest point was probably last year, when things were going wrong. I'd worked so hard to get where I needed to be and it wasn't going right for me and that is when I started to doubt myself. But I've come back this season and things have clicked for me so I'm not going to look back too much now, I'm going to look forward.

"The knee is fine, I ice it religiously, but I've had no gyp whatsoever, and that is such a good feeling to have. I don't see any reason why I couldn't play a Test match tomorrow if they needed me too. I bowled 37 overs in the last game and I feel fine for it."

When asked Miller admitted that Jones, who has taken 26 championship wickets in five matches, has a chance of playing Test cricket for England this summer if he stays fit and continues to take wickets.

England's Test & One-day squads

England squad for the first Test (of four) v South Africa at Lord's, 10-14 July:

M P Vaughan (capt) (Yorks), A N Cook (Essex), A J Strauss (Middlesex), K P Pietersen (Hants), I R Bell (Warwicks), P D Collingwood (Durham), T R Ambrose (wkt) (Warwicks), S J Broad (Notts), R J Sidebottom (Notts), J M Anderson (Lancs), M S Panesar (Northants), C T Tremlett (Hants)

England's provisional 30-man squad for September's ICC Champions Trophy in Pakistan:

T R Ambrose (wkt) (Warwicks), J M Anderson (Lancs), I R Bell (Warwicks), R S Bopara (Essex), T T Bresnan (Yorks), S C J Broad (Notts), M A Carberry (Hants), P D Collingwood (Durham), A N Cook (Essex), A Flintoff (Lancs), S P Jones (Worcs), E C Joyce (Middlesex), R W T Key (Kent), S I Mahmood (Lancs), A D Mascarenhas (Hants), P Mustard, G Onions (both Durham), M S Panesar (Northants), S R Patel, D J Pattinson (both Notts), K P Pietersen (Hants), L E Plunkett (Durham), M J Prior (Sussex), O A Shah (Middlesex), R J Sidebottom (Notts), A J Strauss (Middlesex), G P Swann (Notts), J C Tredwell (Kent), C T Tremlett (Hants), LJ Wright (Sussex).

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss