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?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions