Flintoff fit as England seek elusive consistency

Andrew Flintoff has been cleared to play in today's second NatWest Challenge match against India at The Oval. At the conclusion of England's seven-wicket victory over Sourav Ganguly's side on Wednesday, there were fears that the all-rounder had injured his right thumb when he stopped a fierce drive from the India captain while fielding.

The discomfort caused by the blow failed to stop Flintoff bludgeoning three huge sixes in a whirlwind 34 not out but he was still sent for a precautionary X-ray in Nottingham. The scan revealed no break, just bruising, and Flintoff is expected to play in an unchanged side.

The challenge for England in their two remaining matches against India is to maintain the quality of performance witnessed at Trent Bridge.

Under Michael Vaughan's leadership and Nasser Hussain's before he resigned in 2003, England have occasionally played breathtaking one-day cricket but seldom have they performed with any sort of consistency.

You have to go back seven years to find a period when England had a lengthy spell of success. From May 1997 to March 1998, under the captaincy of Michael Atherton and Adam Hollioake, England won eight one-day internationals in a row against major nations. Since then they have had the odd four or five-match unbeaten run but each of these spells included matches against the likes of Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, the Netherlands or Namibia. If games against these teams are taken out, the best unbeaten run since 1998 is... two.

Judging by their performance at Trent Bridge, India are vulnerable. They have too many good players to be written off but the loss of Sachin Tendulkar, with tennis elbow, appeared to affect the confidence of the side. And in an effort to make up for Tendulkar's absence, five of their first seven batsmen got themselves out, either through a rash shot or sloppy cricket.

England will hope to expose this ruthlessly today and at Lord's in the final match on Sunday. After winning seven Tests in a row, Vaughan's side know how to win. This is sure to intimidate India.

England's success on Wednesday was not down to their new strategy. They cantered to a comfortable victory by playing good cricket. The bowlers were aggressive and disciplined. They hit the pitch hard and gave Sehwag, Ganguly and Dravid very little to hit. The execution of these tactics forced them to play poor strokes, and Yuvraj Singh to run himself out.

Alex Wharf claimed the greatest credit for England's win - and rightly so. The Glamorgan paceman may not be the best talker in town - when interviewed after taking 6 for 5 for his county on Sunday, his reply to the first question was "I have nothing really to say" - but he impressed everyone with his high action and the quiet and deliberate way he went about his work.

His bowling is unlikely to produce the same results in Test matches but it is ideally suited to one-day cricket. Any bowler who consistently hits a good length with venom, and nips the ball back into a right-hander, is hard to score off because the angle of the ball restricts the range of strokes he can play.

In Test cricket, though, a bowler should be able to move the ball away from a right-handed batsman because good batsmen are seldom bowled, their technique ensuring that the bat and pad cover the stumps. By moving the ball away, in the air or off the seam, the bowler threatens the outside edge of the bat, and this is the reason why the highest proportion of wickets taken in Test cricket are either caught by the wicket-keeper or in the slip region.

* Vikram Solanki needs just six against India today to bring up 1,000 runs in limited-overs matches this season. However, the 28-year-old Worcestershire player will not be flinging the bat as he might have done previously. "It is perhaps not for me to say whether I would have played differently in the past, others might be better judges," Solanki said. "Getting left out of the England side I had to address a few aspects of my game and I went away and did that, and fortunately it resulted in a recall."

England (probable): M P Vaughan (capt), M E Trescothick, V S Solanki, A J Strauss, A Flintoff, P D Collingwood, G O Jones (wkt), A F Giles, A G Wharf, D Gough, S J Harmison.

India (from): S C Ganguly (capt), V Sehwag, V V S Laxman, R Dravid (wkt), Yuvraj Singh, M Kaif, R S Gavaskar, A B Agarkar, I K Pathan, A Kumble, L Balaji, A Nehra, Harbhajan Singh.

Umpires: M R Benson (Eng) and D B Hair (Aus).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
Life and Style
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?
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
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
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
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?
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
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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