Flintoff welcomed back at seven while England sweat over Sidebottom

Andrew Flintoff will make his much-awaited Test comeback at Headingley this morning but the England selectors appear to have accepted that his days as a world-class all-rounder are probably a thing of the past. After happily announcing that Flintoff's 18-month injury exile from the side was to end, Michael Vaughan, the England captain, said that the 2005 Ashes hero would now bat at seven in the second Test against South Africa, not six, the position where he built his reputation.

Flintoff's place in the batting order would have put a bit of a dampener on his delight at being recalled and it was the most positive piece of news to come out of the England camp on a day when injury scares threw their preparations into disarray. Ryan Sidebottom and James Anderson carried a huge workload in the drawn first Test at Lord's, sharing 102 overs, and are both doubtful with stiff backs.

As cover England have called up Chris Tremlett and Nottinghamshire's Darren Pattinson, a Grimsby-born former roofer who has played just 11 first-class matches. Pattinson was born in England but he is a product of the Australian system, having spent the past 23 years in the country.

The 29 year-old fast bowler is a latecomer to first-class cricket, making his debut for Victoria in January 2007 – three weeks after Flintoff played his last Test for England against Australia at Sydney. In his first season with Nottinghamshire he has performed superbly, taking 29 County Championship wickets at an average of 21 in six matches. His potential was recognised a fortnight ago when he was the surprise selection in England's 30-man Champions Trophy squad.

Before driving to Leeds, Pattinson said: "It's been an incredible couple of months and to have the chance to play Test cricket for England would be the ultimate honour."

The call-up is wonderful news for Pattinson, a strongly built, away-swing bowler, but it is a kick in the groin for Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison and Simon Jones, each of whom would have hoped and expected to be in the England mix when situations like this arise. Hoggard would be the most disappointed. Headingley is his home ground and a venue that gives assistance to his type of bowling.

England are optimistic that Anderson will be fit but Vaughan was at best hopeful about Sidebottom's chances. The injury concerns mean that England are likely to pick four fast bowlers and Monty Panesar this morning, a strategy which would result in Paul Collingwood's run of 33 consecutive Test appearances coming to an end.

That is tough on Collingwood, but selecting three seamers would be a risky tactic, especially when the captain is uncertain about the durability and experience of a couple of his charges. Tremlett was picked as cover ahead of Pattinson but the selectors do not seem totally convinced of his character, leaving the Notts man with an excellent chance of replacing Sidebottom.

"I really hope Ryan comes through," said Vaughan, who will captain England for the 50th time in Tests today. "He is a key bowler for us, particularly here where the ball swings around. If he is not right he will be missed by our attack because of the options he offers. He has been a revelation for us in the last year and when he is fully fit he gets that snappy swing that makes him so effective. But he needs to be confident in his body to do this.

"It is a huge honour to captain England 50 times," Vaughan added, "but you only reach that achievement by having good players, good management and winning games. I am lucky to have had a few of each."

Playing five bowlers and batting Flintoff at seven would place extra pressure on England's top five batsmen, as well as Tim Ambrose coming in at six. In Ambrose, Flintoff and Stuart Broad, England have three No 7s and they will be hoping to accumulate 80-100 runs between them. The decision puts Ambrose's batting in the spotlight and if he is to keep Sussex's Matthew Prior out of the side, he will need to score runs here.

Despite his poor batting form, Flintoff still views himself as a batsman who bowls a bit and wants to be looked upon as a swashbuckling No 6 capable of playing match-winning innings. But the demotion to seven suggests that he needs to produce something special with the bat to change the outlook of the selectors.

"I have always seen Andrew more as a No 7," Vaughan said. "I think his style of play is very much suited to that position. He is very attacking and given the opportunity he can take the game away from the opposition from that position. He is comfortable playing there and it takes some of the pressure off him and hopefully that will allow him to go out there and express himself.

"If Ambrose ends up batting a t six I am confident he can score runs there. Sometimes players need someone to show faith in them to go on and get that big score. He's done that before in New Zealand and only two Test innings ago he got a really good 70 against them."

South Africa have an injury concern themselves and will wait until this morning before deciding whether Neil McKenzie's groin strain has eased. Jean-Paul Duminy is on stand-by.

Possible Teams: England: M P Vaughan (Yorkshire, capt), A N Cook (Essex), A J Strauss (Middlesex), K P Pietersen (Hampshire), I R Bell (Warwickshire), T R Ambrose (Warwickshire, wkt), A Flintoff (Lancashire), S C Broad (Nott'mshire), J M Anderson (Lancashire), M S Panesar (Northamptonshire), D Pattinson (Nott'mshire).

South Africa: G C Smith (capt), N D McKenzie, H M Amla, J H Kallis, A G Prince, A B de Villiers, M V Boucher (wkt), M Morkel, P L Harris, D W Steyn, M Ntini.

Easing up: How Headingley's Test terrors have been tamed

Headingley is a venue that has historically helped fast bowers, but that reputation has changed in recent times. In the last two Tests here, against West Indies in May last year and versus Pakistan in August 2006, seven hundreds have been scored and just one five-wicket haul taken – by Pakistan's Umar Gul.

1980 - 1989

Tests 10

Average score per wicket 30.08

Average runs per Test 929.6

Team scores over 400 4

Highest team score 601-7

(Australia v England, 1989)

Centuries scored: 11

Five-wicket hauls: 17

1990 – 1999

Tests 8

Average score per wicket 31.56

Average runs per Test 994.25

Team scores over 400 6

Highest team score 653-4

(Australia v England, 1993)

Centuries scored: 15

Five-wicket hauls: 13

2000 – 2007

Tests 7

Average score per wicket 34.38

Average runs per Test 1,105.4

Team scores over 400 7

Highest team score 628-8

(India v England, 2002)

Centuries scored: 17

Five-wicket hauls: 6

Weather

Sunny spells with showers expected, south-westerly breeze. Maximum temperature 16C

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

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy